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5 Practical Ways To Climb The Corporate Ladder

How did they get there? Those women who climbed the corporate ladder to the corner office, who are mentors to young professionals and who steer the business from strength to strength. Each would have started at or close to the bottom but found the right coordinates on the map that have taken them to the top. Their wealth of insights is vast so woman with drive has curated five of the most sage and pertinent pieces of advice from those who have earned the right to dish them out.


1. Don’t wait to get noticed

Modesty will not get you anywhere in the corporate world. If your have achieved something that will make your managers and peers sit up, then speak up.

This is Cynthia Whelan’s philosophy, The Head of Strategic Finance at Telstra told BRW that most women think if they put their heads down and work really hard, someone is bound to notice. But no one will because everyone is focusing on telling someone else what they are doing and achieving.

Spend more time taking responsibility for the dynamics around you than on feeling bitter about being overlooked yet again.


2. Learn the “hard” skills

Most women tend to veer towards the “softer” side of business like human resources and marketing. But the three rungs that lead to the top involve technology, sales and accounting. These skills are what got Sharon Rowland to the CEO seat in ReachLocal.

Rowlands’ first leadership role was in sales and she told Huffington Post that her performance there was assessed more “purely and cleanly” than in any other management role.


3. Make your aspirations known

Do not hold your cards too close to your chest. Your managers are not mind readers and will never know what roles you are eyeing unless you clearly tell them. National Australia Bank’s executive program director, Christine Barlett, has seen this happen too many times. She told BRW that it is always easier managing someone when you know where they want to go.


4. Practice generosity of spirit

Adeptness in technology and numbers will get you a certain distance but it is how you treat people that will take you all the way. Gail Kelly, the former CEO of Westpac, said in a speech last year at the St George Bank Foundation lunch that if those who believe in practicing generosity of spirit also believe in the power of an individual to make a difference.

“(They) treat individuals with deep respect and want to see others flourish. The people who do not practice generosity of spirit are quick to judge, intolerant, they shoot messengers, they take credit for work that others do.”


5. Don’t wait until you are 100% ready

When Kelly was offered the opportunity to head the credit card division of South Africa’s Nedbank, she had no knowledge or experience in the industry or an understanding of the technology that underpinned it. Unsure of what to do, she dug deep within herself and decided that if the organisation backed her, she was prepared to take on the challenge.

“You can imagine the mistakes I made and the lessons that I had there. There was no transition. But I reflect on it now, that if I had not dug deep then, if I had not made that call then, taken that opportunity then, there is absolutely no way I would be here today in the role I am today.”


What is the best career advice that you have received? Tell us in the comments section below.

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