Staying Power

Winning strategies to secure your job

self-assurance doesn’t turn into a false sense of security, causing you to lose your professional competitive edge." Take the initiative to form new alliances.

Such alliances can be developed by networking within industry trade groups and organizations that may indirectly impact your industry. It could also be strategically advantageous to work closely with executive search firms.

"Utilizing search firms can only enhance professionals at the VP level," says Sam Robinson, president of the search firm Robinson-Robinson & Associates in Minneapolis. He believes connecting with a search company is an important part of career management.

Robinson, a former executive in charge of diversity for a computer company, started his firm 13 years ago to help black executives make successful transitions in their careers.

"Because the work climate is so volatile, when you think of career development, there seems to be less concern about development and more about being in a survivor mode," says Robinson. "But [senior professionals] have to always be in a position to protect themselves–just like an organization protects itself. And often if you’re not well connected when an organization goes through a restructuring, it’s a hard tumble. In many cases, it’s a big surprise when people who have been told they’ve been major players and big contributors find themselves on the outside looking in."

"People involved in search work," he explains, "know a lot of people and hear a lot of things, and that exchange of information is invaluable."

Brenda Ross-Dulan
Age: 41
Position: Senior vice president and division manager for Wells Fargo
Education: B.S., business, Howard University; M.B.A., UCLA
Professional Strength: "I’m really strategic. I really understand direction and how to move the big picture."
What’s Next: "To expand the territory where I am and get some exposure to other lines of business."
Marital Status: Married; two children

Jonathon Jefferson
Age: 41
Position: Vice president at A.T. Kearney
Education: B.S. mathematics, Morehouse College; master’s of engineering in operations research, Cornell University; finishing a Ph.D. in organization and management, Capella University
Professional Strengths: Problem solving. "I’ve evolved from purely quantitative number crunching to solving problems across organizations, people, systems, and levels."
What’s Next: College professor or chief executive. "I would like to take all that I’ve learned and apply it to running a company."
Marital Status: Married; two children

Considering B-School? An executive MBA program may help you reach your goal.
There’s no doubt that graduating from a competitive business school has its privileges. According to a study by the Graduate Management Admission Council, employees with M.B.A.s typically enjoy considerably higher pay, more management responsibility, better promotion opportunities, and greater satisfaction overall than employees who don’t have the credentials. In addition, business school graduates who’ve completed highly competitive programs bring a level of experience and contacts that employees without graduate degrees could never match.

If you’re currently in the midst of your career and can’t afford taking off for a full-time, two-year graduate education, consider an executive M.B.A. program. The part-time curriculum is designed to prepare mid-career

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