Your career is an amalgam of experiences – good, bad and ugly. They make you who you are and who you can be. We don’t invest enough time in developing ourselves – whether that’s through learning, building relationships, reflecting on successes and failures. All those experiences should be cherished.
In this second blog, I expand on the ‘play to win’ theme when it comes to your career, with more tips on how to achieve success and my favourite: the 40-40-20 approach.
One: It takes a village and you have to build it
Many people talk about having a mentor – someone who can guide them and share their experience. I prefer to talk about ‘sponsors’ – people who are advisors but who also challenge you. What most people don’t realise is that mentoring, or sponsorship, is a two-way process that benefits both parties. While at EMC I worked very closely with the president of the Americas business and became his right-hand – someone he could rely on as a sounding board and who would, equally, challenge him.
This wasn’t a relationship built purely on friendship – it was about the impact we could create for the firm. He became, and still is, one of my closest advisors and evangelists. I followed him in my career and that path led me to becoming a CEO myself. The relationships you build will be some of most important stepping stones in your career, so make sure you nurture and give back to them.
Two: Staying under the radar is not a good thing
Oscar Wilde famously said, there is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. A memorable moment from my career was entering an all-male board meeting as an engagement manager at McKinsey on a major project for a technology company. The CEO asked the room about a competitor and their progress on a key acquisition. The room was silent – none of his team had done the research. I thought for a brief moment about whether I should say anything given the seniority of the people in the room, but decided to go for it.
I stepped forward and handed him a sheet detailing the latest update from the competition. I had done my research that morning, and followed through. What’s more, it got noticed – a year later the same CEO asked me to join the company as head of strategy. As Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook says, women need to step up to the table, not wait for an invitation. Seize your moment and know your facts.
Three: Manage your energy: 40-40-20
I get asked a lot about how I maintain my energy, even when times are tough. Most importantly, as I mentioned in my first blog, do the things you love. When this is true, it’s easy to be energetic. Secondly, I follow a rigorous rule of 40-40-20, which I learnt from a senior director at McKinsey. I spend 40 per cent of my time with customers, 40 per cent with my team and 20 per cent I save for myself – to learn, reflect, strategise and refuel.
Another rule I live by is to avoid wasting time with toxic people or unnecessary bureaucracy and internal politics. Time is precious and you should surround yourself with people who are going to challenge you constructively, enable you to execute and coach you to the next level of performance. Thirdly, wellbeing is an essential part of being successful in your career and in life. High performance requires healthy employees – stay fit, eat healthily and when you find yourself getting tired, take a break.
Four: And finally, take the plunge, it’s better than doing nothing. Or, ‘jump off the cliff and build the plane on the way down’, so said Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn
When I got the call to go to Schneider Electric to run the UK and Ireland business it meant moving away from an industry that I had spent my entire career in. It was an exciting opportunity to learn an entirely new set of products, services and technologies, but it could also have gone very wrong.
What I relied on in making that decision was speaking with my ‘sponsors’ for advice and knowing what drives me – I love problem-solving and I am passionate about learning and having impact – I knew this job had all those elements and I couldn’t wait to learn again. Trust your gut and throw yourself into new opportunities, otherwise you’ll never take off. Then work hard, ask questions and do all you can to learn about the business. With the right support around you, you will be on the path to career success.
About the author:
Tanuja Randery, president UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric.
Tanuja joined Schneider Electric in 2015 from BT Global Services, where she served as President, Strategy, Marketing & Transformation responsible for the growth transformation agenda. Prior to BT, Tanuja spent 10 years at Colt Group, in both strategy and operations roles – while at Colt she led the UK/IE Enterprise Business, was MD of Benelux and setup Colt’s Global Business division.
Tanuja also led the acquisition of MarketPrizm – a low latency trading infrastructure company and was CEO of the entity driving the expansion into Asia and cross asset classes. Tanuja’s professional career has also seen her working as Vice President of Strategy at EMC Corp where she led a number of key M&A initiatives and she worked seven years as a Consultant at McKinsey, specialising in technology and sales and marketing effectiveness, both in the United States.