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Posts Tagged ‘Career planning’

I recently had a wonderful conversation with a smart professional in our industry whom I’ve known for years, Kari Gearhart. Kari had a long career in commercial pharma (much of it with Merck), and was heavily involved in many facets of corporate training during that time.

karigBut, as she started to look ahead at new career options – either within the industry, or potentially after retirement – she realized the importance of expanding her network. Not only within the narrower circle of her company or industry, but also in other areas of professional and personal interest.

Kari and I had a number of talks over the years about these transitions, and when she was ready to retire from Merck, she had created a robust network of other people who shared her interest in professional development. This led to a board member position within the Healthcare Business Women’s Association (HBA); strategic alliances (and referral relationships) with like-minded others; and an opportunity to build her own consulting practice. An important part of this transition was to create the space and the time to pursue her passion in women’s leadership development and in particular a program called Fit-to-Lead that she co-developed with a colleague. The program focuses on making the connection between taking on a significant fitness challenge (e.g. Triathlon), and leadership growth.

According to Kari, it was the outside volunteering opportunities (through HBA and other groups) that led to the most fruitful connections as she planned out the next phase of her professional and personal life. Many of us, as we get older, begin to pay more attention to “legacy passions” brewing within us – those things that we want to accomplish which may have little to do with the next step on the corporate ladder. Kari’s desire to impact others compelled her to start exploring these new avenues, even as she continued her work at Merck.

One of the joys of her current status is that Kari now has more room to explore, to be open-minded, and to let opportunities take shape at a more organic pace. Her “master plan” during this phase of her life has lots of flexibility built into it, and many of those avenues of exploration come via her growing network.

Careful financial planning and long-term thinking about how she wanted to evolve into new opportunities kept Kari from being lost in the cold after leaving corporate life, a fate which befalls many who retire or are involuntarily downsized. In fact, within days of catching up with Kari, I sat down with a gentleman whose many years in the industry came to an abrupt end, and he had to ruefully admit that he had not pro-actively built a wide network ahead of time, or explored other potential options before being suddenly set adrift.

Kari and I concluded our talk with several summary points for all of our colleagues to consider:

  • Build a broad network NOW, before you need it (hint: some of your best potential contacts will be on the vendor side; in adjacent roles/companies; and in volunteer roles). Connect to, and cultivate, pro-active networkers.
  • Talk to people who can help you think differently. If need be, do some strengths assessments and hire a professional coach for a season.
  • Get in touch with your legacy passions. What do you want to accomplish in your latter years? How can you plan backwards from that future to make it happen?

I will add this, from my experience – making weak ties with hundreds of people (such as LinkedIn connections) cannot hold a candle to cultivating strong ties with a handful of smart, pay-it-forward people. They are the ones who will go to bat for you and make things happen. Successful networking is not merely a numbers game – it’s primarily about quality and authenticity.

There is no corporate safety net anymore, right? Start building your own opportunity network.

More in the Impactiviti Interview series:

Training Journey – From Major Pharma to Startup

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

Development of Field Leadership at Gilead Sciences – “Touchpoints”

Lessons from the Dark Side

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First, a quick explanation for this post – many of you are aware of another site where I am regularly posting (SteveWoodruff.com), and promoting a service I provide called Clarity Therapy.

It’s a practice I have loved offering over the last few years, and it may become important to you or someone you know. Can you give me a minute to tell you the story of how this Clarity Therapy thing has come about??

In my client-vendor “matchmaking” work here at Impactiviti, I noticed that many of my vendor/partners were struggling with putting forward a clear (and differentiating) offering and message. So I began to consult in order to help them “discover their fit” in the marketplace. Quite unintentionally, this began to spread into helping individuals who are in career transition, because the need is the same – figuring out your professional DNA; defining your “sweet spot” role or offering; telling an effective story; having an effective verbal business card to hand out.

Increasingly, I’m serving as an outside voice to help individuals and companies unearth their purpose and define their fit. Turns out that this is a massive need, especially in turbulent times.

So – a coaching practice was born, called Clarity Therapy. And it’s based on this one core reality:

You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in

I’m mentioning all this so that when you see various posts from that site, emphasizing message clarity, professional identity, branding and differentiation, etc. – you’ll know why.

A number of your vendor/partners and some of your colleagues-in-transition have already had very productive in-depth sessions. And, as you might guess, making network connections based on the professional direction uncovered is always a big part of what I do.

If you want to learn more about the service (half-day or full-day; pricing; expectations) – here’s a quick overview. And, I put out a fun little single-topic weekly newsletter called Clarity Blend – feel free to view a sample and subscribe here.

Thanks for listening. Since I am essentially working on two (inter-related but distinct) practices, I thought I’d provide an explanation so there’s no confusion. And, if you need help with professional direction – I’m your guy. :>}

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This is not the most wonderful time in the overall economy, or in pharma, so a lot of folks are looking for jobs – including former employees of both client and vendor/provider companies. We field calls regularly from folks in the Impactiviti network (and I really don’t mind!) looking for help with new opportunities, or available resources.

A few things to help out, including something new (see point 4)!opportunityweb

1. One of the reasons we launched the Impactiviti Job Board was to try to provide a one-stop place for sales training professionals to see what’s out there (we also have some vendor positions advertised there). But there are other resources you might want to look into:

2. Blogging colleague Jason Alba has a site called Jibber Jobber to help manage your job search, and to provide resources. Here’s a helpful recent post with 10 Resources for Job Seekers Right Now.

3. Social networking sites are a great way to build up your network. I’m a big fan of social media and I think that creating your own “Opportunity Network” is the best job security you can have. Here’s a recent CNN article with helpful do’s and don’t’s.

4. I’ve spoken about LinkedIn before, and even created a group “Impact” just for pharma/biotech/device professionals (no vendors or recruiters) to facilitate networking. You who are training professionals (on the client side) can join here.

Starting today, I’ve just launched a new group (ProActiv) for those on the other side – this group is specifically FOR vendors, contractors, freelancers, consultants, recruiters, and potential employees of vendor/provider companies. The purpose is to create a place where companies and professionals can more easily find each other when looking for resources and work. If you are someone looking for work on the provider side, or looking to hire contractors or employees, you can join that group here.

As always, I’m open to suggestions about better ways to strengthen our community and provide resources and networking opportunities. Give me your feedback and let’s see how we can continue to build an “Opportunity Network” that helps us all!

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