How to Rise Fast in a Corporate World (Twitter Q&A Recap)

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Below is a summary of our Live Twitter Q & A session with Arnold Kavaarpuo, Ghana Country Director of JUMO.WORLD, held on the 20th of May 2016. Using the hashtag #jobbermangh4jobs, we were able to create a meaning conversation around the topic “How to Rise Fast in the Corporate World”. Questions from participants and answers from our Resource Person are compiled into this blog post for easy reference.

 

Q1. What type of job do you classify as Corporate Job (click to apply to corporate jobs)?

ANSWER: Corporate jobs are subsets of private jobs that have some structure. And they range from mid-size corporates to huge conglomerates.

Q2. How does one break into the corporate workspace?

ANSWER: Basically, anything that gets your leg through the door. Some start from scratch and work their way up. Others begin from startups or public outfits and break in at mid to senior levels. Some will start from blue chip companies break out into mid-range companies and come back in for senior roles. So ultimately, you need a plan and the choice is yours. At the end of the day, what matters is what you do with any offer.

Q3. Do you need special qualification to work in the corporate world?

ANSWER: Qualification is broad. When I hire I look for intelligence, energy and integrity. Intelligence being someone with knowledge and the ability to synthesize it to solve often ambiguous problems. When I say energy I am talking about someone who is hungry. And for Integrity, that is ethics and morality to cater for the grey areas that can still hurt the brand. However, a lot of employers still place a lot of emphasis on paper qualifications and experience.

 

Q4. Is there any secret formula to working your way up the corporate ladder?

ANSWER: There is of course the Machiavellian strategy which involves getting a sponsor and bootlicking your way to the top. But usually this is not sustainable because people get there with no followers and no friends and no experience on how to survive on the job.

My preferred strategy is collaboration, focus and integrity. Be a packman or a packwoman. Don’t succeed at the expense of everyone else. Be a team player. Help the weak. Be the default name when someone needs help. In all of this build and maintain great genuine relationships.

In work as in everything else, there will be NOISE. A lot of it. So you need to sieve through the noise to find what you should be focusing on. Easier said than done. Sometimes your boss does not even what is important. This is different from the good to do. I am talking about the MUST do. When circumstances steer you off course, don’t stay there too long. Get back on the grind.  Focus on required results. Keep digging. You may actually end up producing your company’s break through.

Integrity. This is everything. People will forgive you for making mistakes but seldom for intentionally sabotaging a colleague or putting the business at a disadvantage for personal gain. So keep your nose clean. Integrity helps you see grey to be either black or white. When it’s grey, it’s probably black.

Q5. Is this Machiavellian strategy ethical?

ANSWER: Unfortunately not and it is a sure way to self-destruction.

Q6. Are these other strategies ethical?

ANSWER: Yes. Unethical means may get you to the top but will never make you successful.

Q7. What is your take on corporate politics? Do you encourage it as a means to rise fast?

ANSWER: Sadly, corporate politics is a challenge everyone will deal with at some point. It is bad but difficult to eliminate. Can be managed though. Look depending on your prowess and flexibility of your morality – it is your choice. But I think it is too much a price to pay. You can grow right and sleep well at night.

Q8. Are there any specific set of things to do to rise quickly in the corporate world?

ANSWER: My preferred strategy is collaboration, focus and integrity. Be a packman or a pack woman. Be a team player. Don’t succeed at the expense of everyone else. Be a team player. Help the weak. Be the default name when someone needs help. In work as in everything else, there will be NOISE. A lot of it. So you need to sieve through the noise. Build your Integrity. This is everything. So keep your nose clean. Integrity helps you see grey to be either black or white.

Set off right. Large corporates teach you processes. Mid-size corporates teach you The Business.  So what do you want? I once worked in a corporate for 7 years without understanding how we make money. I once missed out on a job because I had no experience in managing a budget of €10 million. At the time I was just 27 and clearly no corporate would have given me such responsibilities. So set your sights right and do what is right. You will rise faster than you think.

Q9. What are some of the things that can hurt your progress in the corporate world?

ANSWER: Settling. Burning out. Playing victim. Don’t be the whining type. If you are sensitive you need to grow tough skin and stand up for yourself. If your Boss upsets you, do the job and then go have a grown up conversation. Don’t sabotage the business. Don’t be childish. Don’t be caught breaking company laws – depletes your capital and sets you back several months if not years. Remain upright and keep your shoulder to the wheel. Grind.

Q10. Some say in the corporate world it is who you know and not your competence that determine your rise. How true is this?

ANSWER: Who you know can get you through the door and may even give you some initially advantages but will hardly sustain you if you are not worth your weight in salt.

Q11. Does hopping jobs guarantee a fast career progression?

ANSWER: Sometimes. I believe that if you are focused you only need 6 months on the job to figure out the job the rest is building value for the business. Very few businesses will move you at that point. So if you need to broaden your scope, it can be a faster route. But you must know where you are going because you can also land on a landmine.

Q12. Your final words to job seekers and fresh graduates preparing to join the corporate world.

ANSWER: Learn anything and everything that you can, I guarantee you it will be needed one day and that might set you apart. Don’t be afraid to compete. No one has a God-given right to success. Be bold and knock on every door and call up everyone. Remain hungry. And when you get in, don’t think you have arrived. Your journey just began and the time starts now … see you at the top!

ABOUT ARNOLD KAVAARPUO:

Arnold is the Country Director of JUMO Ghana Ltd . JUMO.WORLD is the leading mobile money marketplace for emerging markets with footprints in South, East and West Africa. Follow Arnold on Twitter @Arelka1

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