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How to Manage an Executive Career for the Long Term

by Annette DiSano    

iStock_000014179111XSmall.jpgMuch of my day is spent talking with executives from all industries and disciplines…many are employed but now are beginning to look around. Some have told me, ”I have never had to look for a job before.  In the past, the jobs have always come to me.” So in thinking about how bestto begin, I realized that the real work in looking for your next job is in the strategy development; luckily, it is something most executives, especially marketing executives, have been doing their entire career. 

Yes, the tactics today are different and continue to evolve in this digital age.  But one has the best chance of making a successful transition to that next job if the strategy work is sound. And this must be done by the executives themselves (difficult to farm out); whereas, the tactics can be bought.  So here is a three point check list to get you down that strategy development road:

1.      The PRODUCT is you.  And drawing from my former CPG days, the best way to optimize the value of the product is to consider

         these criteria:         

      • Are the product benefits unique (what specifically distinguishes you from all the others on the shelf; i.e. your accomplishments, breadth or narrowness of your industry experience, companies in your background, working style, or a combination of these)? 
      • Are the product benefits important (are those distinguishing aspects/characteristics important to the decision maker)?
      • Are you credible (can you support your unique, important product positioning with enough detailed accomplishments and examples to reinforce, without overpromising, that position)?       Once you’ve done enough thinking and honing on the product, the rest will almost fall into place.

          2.      Identify the MARKET/DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL (to include target companies and their decision makers).  There are two

              things to consider, and they are equally important for a longer term fit:

      • The market (industry, company type; i.e. public vs. private, size, location, etc.) needs to want or need the product (you), whether that be consciously or unconsciously.
      • Your skills and style are enhanced by this same environment, which will allow you to grow, shine, and eventually evolve into your next assignment.

I believe the statistics now quote something like managers can expect to have at least seven jobs and work in at least two industries over a forty year career.  Current economics conditions support even shorter tenures.


     3.      The PROMOTION of the product includes:

    • Connecting through networks (like MENG and NETSHARE, Inc.), online media, trade associations, job listings, recruiters, and cold calls.
    • Engaging with potential or prospective companies and carefully listening for the pain and presenting yourself as the solution.

One final thought: developing a satisfying, vibrant, and continuous executive career, as with any successful product, is an ongoing process.  It does not stop with your next job.  The product (you) continues to evolve to best meet market needs as distribution channels are re-evaluated from time to time while the promotion/support never stops.

You already know how to do this…you’ve been doing for other products and services throughout your professional careers.  It is time to apply this expertise to yourself.


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Annette DiSano

Annette began her career in the CPG industry, transitioned at a senior level to consumer electronics, and has served in the COO role for three smaller, privately held companies (consumer products and services) for the past 15 years.  She has been a member of MENG since 2003, serving on the Board and as San Francisco Chapter Chair. Annette@netshare.com

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