Category Archives: Career

Never Burn Bridges

A reorganization in my department was announced today.

While no layoffs are in the works, – that’s what we have been told so far – here’s some quick observations/thoughts/opinions on my reorganization experience.

  • Don’t burn bridges. Let me repeat this…never burn bridges. It’s a smaller world than you think it is, and you never know who you will end up working for, with, along….think about any preposition you want to use here. 
  • Development is in your hands. If you want to develop your career, don’t wait for your manager to develop your career. Take your career by the horns, and steer it. Because if you leave it up to your manager it won’t happen. One of my coworkers has been relocated to a new team. It came as a shock to her. She wasn’t asked if she wanted to move to the new team. My manager simply “did what she wanted.” She has been wanting to develop her career, and asking to switch positions; handle a new commodity category. She didn’t want to move to the new team, but my manager already found a new replacement. Let’s just say she was not pleasantly surprised.
  • Our organization seems to be getting top heavier. In management’s words, they are adding “line managers” to manage work more effectively.

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Do any of you have experiences with reorganizations? Any interesting stories to share?

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Happy Hour Musings

Every other Friday, there’s a happy hour at a nearby bar. I have managed not to go because I rather go workout straight after work on Friday. But last week, I convinced myself to go, in order, to network with my fellow peers. I forgo on the alcohol and order water. Especially since I was planning, and actually did go to Boot camp afterwards.

I am a people watcher, and love observing how people act in certain situations. I, also, observe how I act to try to improve myself. I can be a tad socially awkward when I am uncomfortable and/or don’t know people.

A couple of thoughts I had while I was there:

  • Everybody buys alcohol. It is after all happy hour! But I wonder, how much their tab adds up at the end of the night. I was there for a little over an hour, and everyone had about 3 -5 beers. Nobody looked like they were leaving anytime soon. When I actually left, people where like woah, you are leaving early!
  • People get friendlier, cockier, and/or quieter. Alcohol relaxes people and it brings down their inhibitions. Some people say it’s the alcohol. I think people use the alcohol as an excuse to act a tad different.
  • Funny business – One of the guys blurted out how he invests all the time, and how he’s been losing so much money a bond index fund, one of his buddies convinced him to invest in. My thoughts – Why buy bonds now? He’s only 32. If I were him, I would spend more time researching investments than drinking. Anyone???
  • Sunglasses should not be worn inside. One of the guys wore his sunglasses inside the bar. I made a comment to my friend, about the guy in front of us looking creepy with his sunglasses. She laughed and said he had recently bought them, so he didn’t want to scratch them up. Especially since they were super expensive. Umm??? Can’t you leave your sunglasses inside the car that’s inside the parking garage before entering the bar? Guys, sunglasses inside bars are creepy. No matter how expensive the sunglasses are.
  • Men outnumber women. There were only 4-6 girls compared to 15 guys there from work.
  • What’s the point of Co-Worker Happy Hour? Not yet sure on this one. Any thoughts???

Those are my observations/rants from Friday’s Happy Hour.

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Stagnation and Politics at a Corporation

I see posters of “keep calm and carry on” everywhere. At my offices, in cubicles, on Pinterest boards. Many have switched the phrase and added other funny words like “keep calm and call batman.”

The past two weeks at work, I have been repeating the same words over and over again.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 5.12.28 PMWork has been crazy the past two weeks. I have had to cover for two of my coworkers on top of my day to day responsibilities. But this was nothing compared to the frustration and desperation I felt at work. Welp…I may be exaggerating a tad to express my emotions.

I knew I was going to face politics at work, especially since I work for a large corporation. But I just never imagined it would be in this scale. Especially since I’m not used to dealing with NON-smart people. I have realized that my company is slow. It promotes social climbers – for a lack of a better word. Most people that actually do the job stay at their jobs, and don’t get promoted to manage people and work. Thus, people that are good at greasing wheels, and don’t really understand work, end up managing people. I have also realized that women don’t get promoted as quickly as men. This is quite discouraging. Again, I knew it happened, but having not faced a gender disposition before in other roles, I jus never thought it would impact me this way. Why work harder, if they guy next to you, who may or may not work or be as smart as you, get promoted before you?

Below are some of my observations:

Example 1: Manager promotes himself as more than he is. He’s just as manager but when he announces his title at meetings, he makes himself look as a director. Clearly he is not. People- men- believe him. Yikes!

Example 2: Manager is a very eloquent B.S.er! I can recognize the best of them because I was trained in bullshitting through high school. I have to thank the International Baccalaureate program for helping me hone this skill. How does he B.S.? He uses a lot of supply chain phrases over and over again. What’s worse is that he tries to implement supply chain innovations without understanding the concept or necessary requirements.

Example 3: Manager or individual contributor do not like being told they are wrong. They respond defensively, and then try to turn the situation on you by calling you defensive and aggressive. Great, right? I’m aggressive because I stand by my decision and I have the analysis (numbers) to back it up. Also, they don’t like to admit they don’t something. They try to B.S. it, and then when I ask them question on subjects which I am fully versed on, they get offended.

Example 4: Getting promoted. It’s a good old boy network. I work for a tech company. Women are outnumbered 4:1. Especially when you start climbing the ladder. Men promote men quicker. I have seen it happen too many times in my organization.

Example 5: Big corporation equals big politics and big stagnation. Sometimes I want to shoot myself. Nobody wants to make a decision because they don’t want to take the blame for it.

Sheryl Sandberg spoke about this at HBS Class of 2012:

As the world becomes more connected and less hierarchical, traditional career paths are shifting as well. In 2001, after working in the government, I moved out to Silicon Valley to try finding a job. My timing wasn’t really that good. The bubble had crashed, small companies were closing, big companies were laying people off. One woman CEO looked at me and said, we wouldn’t even think about hiring someone like you. After awhile I had a few offers and I had to make a decision, so what did I do? I am MBA trained, so I made a spreadsheet. I listed my jobs in the columns and my criteria in the rows, and compared the companies and the missions and the roles. One of the jobs on that sheet was to become Google’s first business unit general manager, which sounds good now, but at the time no one thought consumer internet companies could ever make money. I was not sure there was actually a job there at all. Google had no business units, so what was there to generally manage. And the job was several levels lower than jobs I was being offered at other companies. So I sat down with Eric Schmidt, who had just become the CEO, and I showed him the spread sheet and I said, this job meets none of my criteria. He put his hand on my spreadsheet and he looked at me and said, Don’t be an idiot. Excellent career advice. And then he said, Get on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. And when companies aren’t growing quickly or their missions don’t matter as much, that’s when stagnation and politics come in. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sheryl-sandbergs-full-hbs-speech-get-on-a-rocketship-whenever-you-get-the-chance-2012-5#ixzz2VCAK0smb

I’m an intelligent woman who is frustrated with the status quo at the moment. It’s not about money or title at this moment – those are just minor annoyances. Honestly, it’s about knowing there’s a better, faster, smarter way of doing things. Only to find out this better, faster, smarter way will probably get killed by politics.

I don’t want to blame it on being a female. Although most of the meetings I go for client meetings are 99% men. I have seen these men listen to only men, and shrug off advise from senior-level, well-respected, extremely intelligent women.

Stagnation and politics kill innovation. I wonder if my company’s CEO realizes his middle level managers are squashing innovation and efficiencies at the bottom.

Other wise words from Sheryl:

About 6 and half years later, when I was leaving Google, I took that advice to heart. I was offered CEO jobs at a bunch of companies, but I went to Facebook as COO. At the time people said, why are you going to work for a 23 year old? The traditional metaphor for careers is a ladder, but I no longer think that metaphor holds. It doesn’t make sense in a less hierarchical world. When I was first at Facebook, a woman named Lori Goler, a 1997 graduate of HBS, was working in marketing at eBay and I knew her kind of socially. And she called me and said, I want to talk with you about coming to work with you at Facebook. So I thought about calling you, she said, and telling you all the things I’m good at and all the things I like to do. But I figured that everyone is doing that. So instead I want to know what’s your biggest problem and how can I solve it. My jaw hit the floor. I’d hired thousands of people up to that point in my career, but no one had ever said anything like that. I had never said anything like that. Job searches are always about the job searcher, but not in Laurie’s case. I said, you’re hired. My biggest problem is recruiting and you can solve it. So Lori changed fields into something she never thought she’d do, went down a level to start in a new field and has since been promoted and runs all of the people operations at Facebook and has done an extraordinary job.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sheryl-sandbergs-full-hbs-speech-get-on-a-rocketship-whenever-you-get-the-chance-2012-5#ixzz2VCBfmwH6

I’m not quite sure what this means for my career moving forward, but I’m keeping my eyes open and developing my ideas to move forward.

What do you think of politics? Do you feel politics creates stagnation? Do you feel stagnation creates complacency?

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Reviewing Your Professional Profiles

It’s been a year since I started working at my new company role, and I realized I didn’t have my resume, or Linked In profile updated. So I spent a couple of hours Sunday night, updating my resume, Linked In profile, and searching online for some new job openings.

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No, I’m not quitting my job, but, I think it’s important to be prepared.

Even if you are employed, make sure you have the following updated at all times:

  1. Resume
  2. Cover Letter
  3. Linked In Profile

It’s so important to keep up with your digital presence today.

Have you updated your professional profile or resume recently? How have you used Linked In to leverage your career?

I’m  improving the content and design of this blog. Please share any ideas or suggestions you might have for my blog. I’m, also, working on increasing my followers. If you haven’t followed me on Twitter or subscribed to my RSS, please do so :) I love being able to keep in touch with my readers. Download the Alexa toolbar, and help me improve my Alexa ranking! I appreciate your help!

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I Got My First Raise

Today my boss confirmed my first annual merit increase!

Time to rejoice like Ross in Friends?

rejoice

Maybe…

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I wasn’t expecting a huge raise, but somehow the raise I got disappointed me. I should be happier my paycheck is increasing by $50 every two weeks, but somehow I’m not. $50 is not going to change my life. Don’t get me wrong I love that I’m earning $50 every paycheck. An increase in income is always good by me! I just don’t want to be stuck in the pool of workers who expect and/or are satisfied with a small percentage merit increase every year.

I don’t know what this means for the future. I’m not going to quit my job anytime soon. But I am going to be proactive. Seek out opportunities. Drive change.

I have already increased my 401K contribution to reflect my new raise.

Have you received your annual merit increase? What did you do with it?

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Warren Buffett Says Women Need To Take More Credit

Are you taking credit for your work? Or do you say it’s no big deal?

Warren Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century. Buffett is the primary shareholder, chairman, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business ...

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an interview by Fortune magazine last week, Warren Buffett told a group of students that “women need to pursue more recognition for what they accomplish. He used Katherine Graham, former chairman and CEO of the Washington Post, as an example of a woman who’s stock multiplied, yet she never gained the confidence that came with success. Buffett found it peculiar when he saw Katherine Graham still feeling uncomfortable, despite all her accomplishments.

And yet, I don’t find it peculiar at all because I struggle with this everyday. I remember graduating valedictorian of my high school, receiving a full scholarship to college, and still feeling like I hadn’t accomplished enough. While everyone else was bragging about their graduation, I couldn’t, and really didn’t. Few people know I graduated as Valedictorian of my high school to this date.

I have improved a bit since my 18 year old self, but I am definitely not as confident as I should be. In college, I finished both my bachelor’s and master’s in 4 years, and I’m about to finish my MBA, and I still don’t brag about it. I should right? I see other people bragging…specifically men about their alma mater.

What’s happening at work? Am I taking credit when I should? Sometimes, but most times, I don’t. See, I’m the type of person who sees accomplishments and success as mandatory, not exceptional service. I see men praise their work, and all I see is “okay, you accomplished your goal, but you did not over-accomplish it.” In my head, there is no reason to feel a sense of glory when you just “accomplished” what you were suppose to accomplish.

It’s a problem. I already see where this mentality hurts women.

On Friday, I spoke with a female manager about handling “over-confident” men at meetings, and how the men in our industry view women. She has many years of experience, and basically told me it’s a hard world in the telecommunications industry. The industry is dominated by men, especially in senior leadership positions. And men do not take women seriously. Her words not mine. Although I have seen this behavior in our company. She mentioned at her point in her career, the last thing she wants to do is cause waves. She is just keeping quite, maintaining her job. She’s comfortable, and she admits to being okay with that.

But I’m just beginning in my career. I know I don’t want to cause waves, but I’m quite rebellious, which means I will cause waves.

I already know I’m not taking enough credit for my work. What next? What do I need to do to take credit for it? This change doesn’t happen overnight. What I can do is increase my confidence.

I pledge to be a strong, confident woman. 

Are you taking credit for your accomplishments?

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I Joined Toastmasters

Remember how one of my goals this year was to develop myself outside of “work.” Welp…I finally took the plunge and joined Toastmasters.

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For those of you who don’t know what Toastmasters is, here’s a short blurb:

Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. It is a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. There are 280,000 members attending one of the 13,500 clubs in 116 countries that make up a global network. A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere. There is no instructor in a Toastmasters meeting. Instead, members evaluate one another’s presentations. This feedback process is a key part of the program’s success.

 I have been part of Toastmasters before as part of my competition training for SIFE/Enactus in college. It was a great experience and it taught to be less nervous in front of crowds. I, also, learned not say as many filler words (uh, ahh, umms, you know) when I speak. It’s really hard, and I found myself loosing the skills I had developed years to acquire.

See if you don’t practice your skills, you start to lose them! What a thought.

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A new environment at work has caused me to be less confident. My boss actually pointed it out during my annual review, which he mentioned was strange because he hired me due to my confidence. Yikes!

So, I took this advice, and set one of my personal goals to improve my public speaking and confidence. Both of them go hand in hand, and if my public speaking skills improve so will my confidence.

I have been to four meetings so far, and have volunteered for table topic speaker, ah counter, and Toastmaster already!

Today, I was actually Toastmaster and Table Topics Master because our meeting was not very big and we had to double up on responsibilities.

My dream is to one day be like Steve Gates who just faces audiences like it’s nothing. Of course, this requires lots and lots of training, so I better start now at 22, so I can be marvelous in ten years!

Marvelous was the word of the day at today’s meeting.

We actually have a club within our company, so all I have to do is walk to another building to go to the meeting. This should leave no excuse whatsoever to not go!

How are you developing yourself professionally?

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Corporate Politics

It’s been almost a year since I started working at my company. It’s definitely not the experience I was expecting. Maybe I had too much of a rosy picture of the corporate world? Beh..I don’t think I did. I knew I would have to deal with politics, it would take a while for me to get accustomed to the working environment, and time to get to know everybody.

The first six months were super bad. I had to completely switch my sleeping schedule, and learn to sit in front of my desk for 8 – 9 hours. I didn’t have a lot of work yet, and was not involved in many projects. It was actually quite boring.

Then, January started, and I began to support a new category manager, and the work just exploded. I have been playing catch up ever since, learning as I go, and really getting to know a lot of people in different departments.

I figured out sourcing is not going to be my lifetime career. I see myself in this position for the next three years. My hope is I get promoted to a category manager by the time I’m 25, and then I can start looking at different roles within and outside the company. I already have my eyes on the next position.

To get to the next role I will have to navigate a bunch of b*** corporate politics. Wait….I already have. :o

***The hardest part of my jobs is handling people and the politics that goes with a big organization. It’s important to never take things personal in the working world, and to have a rough skin. Read on for an example of political play within my organization. 

About two weeks ago, on a perfect Friday, I butted into a conversation with a junior member outside of our team (same position as me in the corporate ladder) and a category manager within my team. I started asking questions about a topic he was “proposing” one of my team’s category managers handle. I quote “proposing” because it was not a proposal. He basically came up to the category manager ( a senior member above him) and said:

Hey, I have discussed it with your boss, and several other directors, as well as other category managers within the team, and we decided your category is the best to implement this “big idea.” I’m going to set up a meeting with you and ____ department to discuss what we need to do moving forward. I just wanted to let you know.

 Category manager responded by saying:

What do you mean? I’m not aware of such discussions? Can you please explain how I can help here, seeing how this is not really my role. I have no visibility into those systems to implement the “big idea.”

My reaction knowing the background of the “big idea” was to butt in and start asking questions. First of all, I had extensive background on these types of “big idea” implementation across different industries, and I knew our company was nowhere near ready for such implementation. Having worked within the other ____ department during some of my recent projects, I understood the criteria to implement the “big idea” was not there. Furthermore, he was being extremely authoritative to a senior member of the organization. In addition, his “job” definitely did not fall into what he was trying to do. So, I interjected as started asking questions quite calmly. By this time, most of our team was involved in the discussion. 

I actually put him in the defense position because he did not know the answers. His knowledge was weak, and it showed. He actually started to tense up, and he made a couple of big mistakes. He accused the category manager of not wanting to do her work by pushing the work to the other side. He then raised his voice at me and basically told me to shut up by saying “Listen to me, listen to me, stop interrupting me.”

Yup….Things broke down at the moment. He tried to intimate me with his voice and posture, and it did not work.  The category manager and I pulled him aside to calm the situation down, and try to understand what the hell was going on. For the next 45 minutes, we both asked questions, and basically realized he had no idea of what he was talking about. 

The scary part? It seemed like he had convinced everyone to go with this “big idea.” When we mentioned we wanted to talk to the senior leaders to get their approval. He deflected and said they were on board.

Things ended “cordially” at this point. Although I really wanted to punch him. I have had several scuffles with him in the past, and he is by far an extremely arrogant, sleazy, creature. Management protects him because they say he is young and immature, but has a lot of potential. I laugh…I’m young at 22, but he is 30-31. Is that young??? Is it acceptable for him to disrespect women at that age? FYI…we are both in the same spot within the corporate ladder.

I should have reported his behavior to my manager, but I didn’t want to create any more enemies. It’s hard to tell who is his friend and is my friend, you see?

He set up a meeting and invited our entire team. I managed to convince of this to bring everyone on board. Frankly, it was also a way to bring other senior category managers to question his “big idea.”

At the last minute, everyone but the first category manager was dropped off the meeting. Pretty sucky, considering the category manager was about to face what she and I thought would be a tidal wave of opposition.

I was not in the meeting, but I received a summary from the category manager. Basically, the guy above had misrepresented a lot of information. The other department’s representative said the “big idea” would be impossible at the moment, and really it would be their responsibility to start such implementation. Furthermore, he had not talked to the senior leaders as he had represented in the beginning. In addition, my boss found out about his “behavior” via the category manager and had a talk with his supervisor.

The guy now barely talks to us. Seriously, his reaction instead of being proactive and a big man, is to ignore us.

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Is your organization political? What kind of politics have you witnessed or become involved in?

 

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Is It Time To Move On?

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Today I have a guest post from a lovely young lady. Jessica is a 23 year old, single mom, trying to survive SUCCEED in the BIG APPLE, NYC with her young son. She enjoys personal finance, humor, decor, cooking, and dancing. Thank you Jessica for sharing your story today. 

Many eons ago when I was still a college student…

I always thought when I graduated I would land my dream job and boom that would be it. Looking back I often wonder what I was thinking and whether my expectations were every realistic. I received my Business Associate’s Degree, hoping I would get a job and climb the corporate ladder. Two jobs later, I’m wondering where this corporate ladder is hiding?

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I was so excited when I first started my job as a Client Service Associate in a Private Wealth Management Firm. I was thrilled to finally be using my problem solving and communication skills to help our clients with a variety of financial needs in a fast paced environment. Fast forward one year, I answer and transfer calls, make copies, file, cover anyone who is out that day. I, ultimately, dread going into work every morning.  I need excitement, a legitimate position; not to be a floater covering everyone’s position when they are out. There is no room for growth in this company and my pay will not increase without some divine intervention. Lastly the atmosphere in this place is so gray and dismal, I hear at least one person daily who hopes to quit. I really believe it is time to move on.

When do you know it’s time to move on?

I sit here and I am not quite sure the financial sector is what I thought it was, or maybe the fact that this company has no room for growth and that the same positions are always available and rotated—Client Service Associate.  I am sure that I am not alone in this private battle when your “honeymoon” state at a new job is over and you really realize what you got yourself into.  There are obviously two choices: stay here and make the best of my position or move on and find something that I believe will be a better fit.

Things to consider when you’re undecided about your current position:

  1. Happiness: you spend 40 or more hours at your job! If you’re not happy, remember it’s your life your wasting!
  2. Compensation: Let’s face it if you’re not getting paid what you should be, the quickest way to make more is to find a job that pays more!.
  3. Career Advancement: If you’re in an entry level position, it should be just that entry level. There should be other levels above yours to move into, if there aren’t and you want to move up in this world… start searching.
  4. Benefits/Commute ETC: these are really important; benefits are expensive and if you find a company that offers better ones—RUN. Commuting is not always fun and also dips into your budget consider how much you actually spend in this money AND time wise.

You can trust I will be evaluating all of this as I venture onto my next big move. I have applied to continue my education this fall and get my Bachelor’s degree. Hopefully with my Bachelor’s, I will be able to get better job that offers career advancement. In the end,  I strongly believe that you hold the key to your destiny and that you should always value your time and what you do with it!

Savvy Financial Latina speaking now :) My two cents: Everyone starts at an entry level job. It does take some time and effort to get out of that entry level job. But Jessica is right. If you don’t see advancement within your company, then it’s time to move on. Maybe keep your job while you study in the evenings. Your work experience will, also, help you land your next job. Believe me! You need it on your resume. However, small you think your contribution, it is work experience. Focus on the positive side of the job training, and use it to land your next job. 

What would you do? Would you stay or move on? 

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