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Career Strategy | Not sure about the plan...
Opinu
posted on Monday, 15 August 2011 14:44
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Dear Doctor,

I would like to have your opinion about my career plan.

Here is a brief summary of my background: I have graduated from a BA in Economy & Management and a MSc in Business. I have 2 years experience in sales and 4 years in hospitality (restaurant manager & waiter). I am currently working as Sales Manager for a wholesale company  distributing beverage for different hospitality businesses in Hong Kong.

Let’s start by what is my objective or I should say my dream: It is to have my own consulting & wholesale company (2 different companies).

My plan is to reach my objective in three steps:

-    Sales: I want to understand how the operations work, how to find new customers, maintain and improve relationship with customers. So far so good, I brought good results to my company in bringing key on-trade customers and increase our turnover. Basically, in order to increase sales I have to do “door-to-door” sales since the company is quite new in the market. 

Nonetheless, I have to be honest with you: I hate “door-to-door” sales. I am shy so I am trying to get over this  by this method (like Chinese medicine – it does not taste good but you finally get better), sometimes, I am procrastinating going on the road to avoid doing this… In this business, emails and telephone calls are often a failure, so you need to go there and talk directly with the decision –maker.

Please tell me if I am wrong, but I believe that this is the only way to decrease my shyness. Also, I believe if I don’t master the basic things related to sales, my future company will not be successful. I really like sales, developing the relationship with customers, getting new contracts really excite me. So I decided to spent 3 years (so one more year from now) in this business in order to get a “rich” experience. Do you think 3 years is enough or should I stay longer?

-    Consulting in Strategy: my next step is to work around 7 years in a consulting company helping companies with their strategy. Since I am a kid, I love strategy from strategic video games to planning overseas trip with my friends; but I never had neither a position related to strategy (the official title) nor a job related to consulting. I really would like to use what I learnt in University to help other companies. I believe I can learn much more from this job than working as a sales manager…

Since in business, your network is the most important thing – I am afraid my current job is not bringing me the network  I need, to get a consulting job in strategy. What do you think?

-    My own company: I plan to start my own business by 2020…

Thank you in advance for your advices.

Best regards,

Opinu

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1 Comment
Rebecca Cheung - Career Doctor's picture
Rebecca Cheung - Career Doctor  
Posted Thursday, 22 March 2012 03:45 PM

Dear Opinu,

I like it that you have a plan! To use sales experience as a foundation to further your career is a smart move. Sales experience is essentially a life skill. The ability to identify opportunities, interact with people confidently, and convince others is a key winning factor in everything we do. Sales roles, in general, have a low barrier to entry. Some people take it as a job just to get by.
However, for those who appreciate the value and possibilities it may bring, it could be the fast track route to a rewarding career.

Meeting new customers can be stressful for people who are not naturally outgoing. With such determination to overcome shyness, it is also important for you to understand and adapt your behaviour towards different customers. To tackle procrastinating, focus your attention on actionable little steps such as setting clear and measureable target on number of customer visits, this will help to take your mind off pondering.

From sales transiting to consulting, the decision should not just base on the number of years in your current role, rather, it is what you have experienced from your work and your ability that enable you to consult others.

Consulting, simply put, is to give advice to companies in specific areas. Consultants are people who are knowledgeable in the field through experience, professional training, research and publication, and are well connected in the industry. A consultant is an effective communicator in articulating conceptual ideas or processes in a straightforward manner. Although people rarely recognize the connection, a successful consultant must also be a good business development person.

You are right about the importance of networking. You need to actively look outside of your work to be in the right orbit, participating in professional or industry associations - the SMEI club of HKMA for example. The wise use of social media and professional networking platforms could also open doors for you.
Having a career plan is important. Being focused and persistent in pursuing your dream is absolutely essential. I hope when you look back in 2020, all these thinking and planning invested have paid back in a big way.

Rebecca

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