Maximizing education, certification and experience locks in the foundation for a strong personal brand. This includes:
- Identifying key career positions, even if they’re not leadership roles per se, that impart the right skills and experience for a leadership role down the road.
- Pursuing credentials, including certifications, that give you industry-specific knowledge.
- Obtaining the education necessary for the position you want.
- Exploiting any advantageous workplace assets you have that your competition doesn’t.
All of this requires you to have a clear understanding of the goals, professional strengths and values that support your brand of influence and power. These include the skills you alone bring to the table, your ability to collaborate and your ability to communicate your vision to peers, subordinates and leadership.
Ultimately, your personal brand should have its own flavor but be underpinned by such qualities as innovation, dependability, professionalism and competency.
How this looks in my career
Wondering what all this looks like in real life? My own career can serve as an example.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been promoted or made a lateral move every two years, and I’ve never turned down a promotion.
After my military experience from 2000 to 2006 (when I held several positions in several countries), my career trajectory looks like this:
- Satellite systems technician to a network analyst (2006-2009)
- Satellite systems engineer to project manager to program manager (2009-2018)
- Director of Department of Defense programs to vice president of program management (2018-present)
Instead of working one or two functional positions over a 20-year period, I was able to traverse different organizations, work in different functional departments, gain exposure to different technologies and organizational structures, strategically network with executives and personnel from various organizations, and diversify my skill set more than 10 times over. This is how I used experience to acquire influence and power.
Additionally, because I have held so many executive positions for different organizations with different objectives in the same industry, I have been able to build relationships with key players and leverage those in each of my roles.
My education served the dual purpose of teaching me essential information and empowering me to meet certain labor category requirements for career enhancement. To that end, I pursued the following degrees:
Investing in your professional development is key to acquiring power and influence. You must continually pursue opportunities to expand your knowledge, learn new and relevant skills, and gain exposure to new technologies and workflow processes. Certifications may be one way to accomplish that.
Throughout my career, I have held at least 10 major industry certifications, which not only allowed me to meet labor category requirements for global career opportunities but also offered me significant networking opportunities.