Playing the Career Triangle

November 06, 2018

For a career that makes you happy

What do you associate with the term "career"? Money, status, leadership responsibility? Or is it more about doing something meaningful, making a difference and shaping society? Career is a multifaceted concept: Apart from “going higher, faster and further all the time,” it can also mean the following: Experiencing complete fulfillment and the good feeling of really being in your own element. How this works? In the course of the WU Executive Academy's Career Accelerator Program, MBA students learn to focus on the “magic triangle for a fulfilling career”.

Picture of a notebook with a pencil and some cards on it
What do you associate with the term "career"? Money & status or also shaping society & fulfillment? Photo © CC0 Licence

What am I good at? What am I passionate about and what does the world need?

These are precisely the questions that participants ask themselves during the Career Accelerator Program. Taking advantage of the latest findings of career researchers, the program (which the WU Executive Academy offers as an MBA training supplement) features workshops, reflection sessions as well as individual and peer coaching. The goal of this supplement is helping students explore their career concepts and identify factors that make for fulfilling careers. “We have analyzed the factors that are indispensable when it comes to enjoying a fulfilling and successful career and summarized them as the career triangle,” says Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé, Managing Director of the WU Executive Academy.

Where skills, passion and context intersect

As a “magic triangle for a fulfilling career”, the career triangle is about the intersection of the following three key questions:

  1. Skill - What am I good at? Participants reflect on the competencies, skills and experience they have acquired in the course of their careers.

  2. Passion - What am I passionate about? Participants explore their passions and intentions, i.e. what they absolutely want to do.   

  3. Context - What does the world need? Participants take a closer look at the relevance and meaningfulness for others of the things they do. Answering this question is a prerequisite for viable business and revenue models.

Picture of the Career Triangle
Career Triangle: The career at the intersection of skills, passion and context.
Portrait Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé

It is only where the answers to these three questions intersect that one will be able to enjoy a career or a job that is as fulfilling as it is promising. “For one thing, this is crucial for your energy balance. On the other hand, executives are increasingly required to ensure that employees experience career satisfaction,” continues Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé.

Career traps to avoid

By contrast, those who do not pay adequate attention to these three areas are highly likely to get caught in one of the following, very common career traps:

  • Irrelevance trap: We focus on our interests, motivations and competencies without asking ourselves how relevant the things we do are for others. There is neither a demand nor a paying target group, and so our activities generate no revenue.

  • Incompetence trap: We follow our wishes and interests, which are in line with what the world “needs.” However, we fail to offer good quality because we lack the competencies required to do so.

  • Boredom trap: We have the necessary competencies, and we meet the demands of our target group; we do a good job, but: We are not really passionate about it: What we lack is the “inner fire."

Personality, passion and reality check

“Typically, many people tend to associate the term career with advancement, money and prestige. But it helps to keep other career aspects in mind as well, like your career as a legacy: What skills and competencies have I been endowed with, biologically and socially speaking? And: What do I want to leave to the world?” says Prof. Wolfgang Mayrhofer, career researcher, behavioral economist and head of WU Vienna's Interdisciplinary Institute for Management and Organizational Behavior, who will facilitate the individual sessions of the Career Accelerator Program in cooperation with WU-Vienna-based organization expert Dr. Markus Latzke.

Portrait Kleinhanns-Rollé

Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé

  • Managing Director of the WU Executive Academy

We have dedicated our Career Accelerator Program to a variety of career topics. In the course of the ‘Reframing my Career’ session, participants have the opportunity not only to develop an in-depth understanding of what they associate with the term career but also to examine, in great detail, the individual parts of the career triangle. The optional ‘I can’ session lets students explore their personality based on the ‘big five’, i.e. the five most important personality traits, complete with a computer-based test and peer feedback from their colleagues. During the ‘Passion’ session, they reflect on their passions and interests by focusing their attention on seven career dimensions, and the ‘Reality Check’ helps them become clear about their job prospects and job opportunities on the labor market.

For more information about the Career Accelerator Program, please click here.

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