What contribution employers can make
What can we learn from colorful and exceptional career paths? How can companies respond to the change in expectations of high potentials when it comes to such career paths? These and other questions were debated by a panel on “Colorful Careers – Career Paths and Directions off the Beaten Track,” organized by the WU Executive Academy on September 5, 2019. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, led the panel of acclaimed experts in the discussion. But what is behind this debate? Today’s executives are not only used to switching between companies but also between working hours schemes or even between free-lance work and permanent positions at a company. The career paths of executives are changing and becoming more dynamic just as much as the business world in which they operate.
Sabine Bothe, Chief Human Resources Officer at Magenta Telekom (previously T-Mobile Austria), said that “there is no more room for gray careers.” According to her, colorful careers not only offer up opportunities for personal and professional development to the individual but, eventually, also benefit the company. Ms. Bothe herself has used flexible working hours schemes to reconcile her family and work lives, which is something that has guided her throughout her career and made her path unique. She advises people who consider these things important to choose their employers carefully.
Ferdinand Klauser, currently General Manager and Partner at KISKA Brand Design in China, had founded a company before, which he later sold. He made the change from being self-employed to joining a corporation because he recognized the great potential and new opportunities that came with it. “That is what it is all about: lose the silo mentality, and learn something new.”
Marietta Ulrich-Horn, founder of SECURIKETT, a leading company in product protection, comes from a background that is rather unusual for an entrepreneur: she has a degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology. “Openness and curiosity have always been important to me.” And not least, she specified, diversity is also essential in hiring executives. Her company employs more female executives than other enterprises in this field, which has traditionally been male-dominated. Ms. Ulrich-Horn also underlined the importance of recognizing the potential of employees that cannot be expressed in a CV.
The panel participants agreed that predetermined career paths do not make sense anymore. But how can companies actually promote colorful careers?
Erika Kriechbaumer used to be, among other things, Global Sales Director of the welding technology provider Fronius and is now an executive coach. According to her, trust is a vital element that helps companies to promote careers and increase employee motivation. “I have seen trust even after mistakes had been made and in other difficult situations, and this is incredibly important.” Sabine Bothe added that companies should enable flexible work models or sabbaticals as, today more than ever, employees actively request these things. Ferdinand Klauser is convinced that organizations need open spaces and room for development for people with ideas. “For a functioning corporate culture, diversity is indispensable, also when it comes to the professional background of executives.” According to Mr. Klauser, small teams that share an entrepreneurial mindset have proven to be most effective. He added that in this respect, one should not forget that everybody must be aware of the direction in which a company is moving.
“It is not even possible anymore to plan your career. If you go ahead and try anyway, you will only limit yourself and your opportunities,” concluded Erika Kriechbaumer.
If you are curious about the career paths taken by WU Executive Academy alumni, you can read their interesting Career Stories here.