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. …