Not All Career Roads Lead to Chief Executive's Office

Article excerpt

Studies have shown that marketing and finance are the easiest paths to the chief executive officer's office. But there are other departments where the route is far more difficult, largely because the impact on the bottom line is harder to discern.

Not many chief executive officers, for instance, have risen from purchasing, data processing, quality control, real estate, human resources, public relations or auditing. There are some exceptions, but in general the road from those locales is rocky and there are no bridges over the ravines. Like the punchline of the old joke, "You can't get there from here."

What happens if you're assigned to one of these dead end departments? Try to negotiate a two-year commitment, with the promise of being assigned to a more visible area when your tour of duty is up. If that's impossible, or if you're already stuck in a department with no way up, there are still things you can do to move your career ahead.

Make contacts in the departments you'd like to be involved with or go to night school and work on an advanced degree in an area you'd like to move into.

Become more visible. Make speeches or give papers at civic and professional meetings. Get involved in civic projects that get your name and picture in the papers. These will get you not only more awareness in your present company, but also contacts that may facilitate a move up into another one.

Sometimes you can transfer your skills to an industry where they're more crucial. If your specialty is real estate acquisition, for example, move to a hotel or restaurant chain, or if you're in public relations, transfer to an agency.

So if you're on the upward climb and you see a sign that says "Road Closed," don't despair. There are ways of building bridges over the chasm.

QUESTION: I received my bachelor of arts in education in September 1987. Being unable to find a teaching position, I have since been working full time as a secretary. I would like to keep this job and begin my master's program part time. This could take several years. Upon completing my degree, will I be able to obtain a teaching position, or will my having been in a different field so long be detrimental?

ANSWER: Your secretarial work should not damage your chances to get a teaching position, especially since a shortage of teachers is predicted by 1995 and the annual rate of teachers dropping out of the profession is nearly 18 percent. …