When I was younger I can’t say I had a thought out career strategy. I arrived in the U.S. at 17, as an immigrant from Mumbai with a total of two bags. My strategy was to put one foot in front of the other.
But as I look back, I see that I had a few deeply rooted principles that guided me and I have developed a few more that, together, have helped me grow and evolve both personally and professionally. If I had a chance, I would go back and tell my teenage self to always keep the following in mind:
1. Have passion for what you do. My days have been long and sometimes intense, but my belief in Sodexo’s mission fuels me. I truly believe that we play an important role in improving the quality of life for individuals around the globe. This is something young professionals starting out should always remember: If you don’t like what you do, it will be very hard to commit the level of time and energy that a person must be willing to invest to achieve success, in the myriad of ways that success is actualized.
2. Learn your business. I have learned that when I take a new role I need to consume myself with the details of the levers that drive business impact and team engagement. There are no short cuts, you have to roll up your sleeves and dive in.
3. Take initiative. Early in my career, I found that when I made sure my managers and mentors knew I wanted to make further contributions to the organization, great opportunities presented themselves. I have served in roles in sales, marketing, operations and strategy and as a result I have diversified my experiences which has allowed me to create greater value for my employer. Be bold and be proactive in communicating that you are open to new opportunities and responsibilities, even if they are outside your comfort zone.
4. Listen. Listen to your peers, people you manage and people you don’t manage. Always, always, listen to the client and end consumer. No matter what your role in an organization, the consumer dictates the path to company success. Businesses are made of people and to serve people, so listen and commit to being a lifelong student.
5. Share the credit. Very rarely, if ever, is success achieved alone. This is even more true as one climbs the professional ladder. Giving credit to team members builds morale and camaraderie and creates motivation for sustained outcomes.
6. Finally, build diverse and inclusive teams. We all have a role to play in creating workplaces where everyone feels valued and where different perspectives are considered and appreciated. Value diversity in thought, experience and background.
I’d like to hear other ideas about what principles drive your success. Share in the comments and we can practice #4 together.