Whatever happened to my career plan?

Geoff Hardy

When I left University, I joined the graduate scheme of a large bank. After further interviews and tests, I was given a place on the programme for the top stream of graduate trainees. I still remember the excitement I felt when the letter arrived confirming this.

Shortly after getting this news, I received another letter. I would be mentored by the deputy chief executive of the Bank (let’s call him Mr. Harris) and he wanted to see me at the Bank Head Office.

Mr. Harris’ office was truly magnificent and awe inspiring. Old oak panel walls, expensive paintings from the Bank’s collection and a very valuable antique desk with leather top. Book shelves covered the walls, containing original editions on the history of money, banking law and lending. (I believe the offices are now a Burger King).

‘We need to do your 10-year career plan, Mr Hardy’ said Mr Harris. In front of him he had a piece of paper split into three columns:

  • In the first column we would list the job roles I would do over the next 10-years
  • In the second column, we would list the banks I would work at (the Bank owned several international banks and overseas experience was the norm)
  • In the third column, we would list the countries I would work in.

Mr. Harris and I completed the form. He folded it neatly, placed it in a white envelope and sent it to the Personnel Division.

Sadly, I then forgot about my career plan and it somehow disappeared at Head Office. However, I was delighted when, around five years later, I was moving to a new house and came across a copy in a box:

  • Half of the job roles we had listed no longer existed (gone due to rationalisation or centralisation)
  • Two of the banks we said I would work at were no longer owned by the Group – sold off or merged
  • And, incredibly, one of the countries we said I would work in, no longer existed.
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Indeed, even the Bank I worked for had been taken over by a bigger, fitter outfit.

Fast forward.

I was recently reading the results of a client’s staff survey. One of the top comments staff made was: ‘I would like to know what my career path is, what will I be doing in the next 5-10 years.’

If I couldn’t do a career plan all those years ago, what chance have we got now?

The American Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that graduates entering the work force now will change jobs 17 times during their careers (yes, 17 times). The days of recruiting someone into a job for life and plotting a career that goes step by step upwards have long gone.

These could be scary times that we are entering. The consensus is that individuals who are prepared and can adapt to the changing environment and learn new skills, will have the best chance to prosper (see, for example, ‘Catch the Wave’ by Deloitte).

In the words of Randall Stephenson, CEO and Chairman of AT&T:

‘If you don’t develop new skills, you won’t be fired but you won’t have much of a career in the future.’

At Sysdoc we have realised that, for the company to prosper and for employees to have the best possible experience, we need to embed a culture of continuous learning. We need to reimagine how we help our staff learn in the most effective way and how we deliver and curate content.

This series of blogs describes how we have gone about this and the lessons learnt.

Other blogs in this series:

#1 - It's time to adopt a growth mindset for future skills

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