Is it Time to Own Your Future?

A professional stature program will move your career ahead, says Charles Moldenhauer ’72.

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Columbia Business was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Charles Moldenhauer ’72 on December 13, 2013. An executive coach with more than 20 years of coaching and consulting experience, Modenhauer had recently submitted this column.

Jared Wright, an M.D. senior manager with a major pharmaceutical company, completed the Columbia Executive MBA Program and is exploring a range of career alternatives to help him move to a more senior leadership position. (Jared’s name has been changed here to protect his privacy.) What’s the best way for him to position himself to capture future opportunities?

Building your professional stature can multiply your chances of being considered for a new role in your current organization or in a new company. As an executive coach, I’m often asked how business professionals can increase their visibility as leaders. The business world has always been competitive, but for many, advancement seems even more difficult today. Job dissatisfaction has created enormous mobility and increased competition: more and more executives are looking for new positions.

You may be doing a fabulous job in your current position and possess a wealth of knowledge about your field, but how do you get the word out about what you have to offer so that you can advance? Many professionals address this challenge in a random and inefficient way. To reach potential employers the right way, a structured professional stature program can be very effective.

How to Enhance Your Professional Stature

Complete an In-Depth Review and Craft a Forward-Looking Plan
First, you must thoroughly analyze your career and your accomplishments, and define your goals and leadership capabilities. This process can include in-depth discussions, formal assessments, introductions to current leaders or consultants in your career space, and a good deal of exploration. After a thorough review, you’ll want to develop a written plan that details specific stature-raising actions (see below); a timetable with progress review check-ins will hold you accountable.

Break Through the Market Clutter
Next, find ways to get your name out into the market and establish your presence so that potential employers will know about you, your track record, and your potential fit within their organizations. Techniques include networking with industry leaders and arranging one-on-one meetings; writing bylined articles, white papers, or blog posts; leading presentations, meetings, and conferences; and building your online presence very selectively through social media.

Consider Coaching
To help you tackle all of this, you may want to hire a professional coach. Professionals of all types — actors, athletes, politicians, and writers — employ specialists to help them build and promote their public personas. Likewise, an increasing number of business professionals employ coaching to improve their effectiveness and stature. One-on-one review meetings can keep you motivated and help you adjust your plan and create new outreach efforts. A coach can also introduce you to industry leaders and help you develop white papers, an upgraded resume, and other assets.

I worked with Jared to facilitate his professional stature program. As part of our program, I introduced him to industry leaders from his target industries: venture capital, start-ups, new product consulting, nonprofit organizations, and high-growth biotech companies. Jared further explored these areas by attending conferences, becoming a chairperson for meetings, and developing a series of white papers.

Ultimately, Jared’s enhanced visibility led to several management offers, including his current position as a top executive at a global biotech firm that recently launched a revolutionary new drug.


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