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What skills are needed for Industry 4.0?

March 4th, 2020 by

We are on the cusp of what’s being billed as the fourth Industrial Revolution – or in 21st century parlance, Industry 4.0 – so what skills are required to climb the career ladder to boardroom executive roles in the coming decade?

It’s a shortlist that reflects the year we’re in. For decades, 2020 has been a popular milestone among sci-fi authors, as well as being the deadline for many long-term environmental initiatives and sector-specific business development plans.

Now we’re living in the 2020s and although we still don’t have flying cars, we do have electric vehicles and it seems likely that trials of driverless cars will develop into mass-market autonomous vehicles during this decade too.

The pace of innovation is astonishing – so what does it take to make the grade when applying for jobs in the era of Industry 4.0?

The first three Industrial Revolutions

First of all, let’s quickly recap the first three Industrial Revolutions:

  • 1780s: Steam Revolution, mechanical manufacture.
  • 1870s: Electrical Revolution, mass production and division of labour.
  • 1970s: Digital Revolution, maturity of IT and electronics.

Half a century on from Industry 3.0, it’s not enough just to be computer literate. If you’re targeting senior executive roles in your career plan, you need to be ready to cope with whatever disruptive technologies come your way.

Mental gymnastics

Adaptability – or ‘mental gymnastics’ as it’s sometimes called – is the ability to think laterally and non-linearly in order to solve problems using innovative solutions.

With new technologies emerging all the time, appreciating how to apply them to improve efficiency and drive revenues in business is key to gaining a head-start on your rivals.

This is true not only when competing with other businesses, but also when competing with internal rivals for lucrative promotion opportunities.

Emotional intelligence

Despite the digital, automated world we now live in, emotional intelligence remains a crucial leadership attribute, especially in organisations with a highly flexible workforce.

The ability to detect when a remote worker is struggling in their role enables you to tackle their concerns head-on and show some support, which is often visibly lacking for people who don’t work in the main office or company headquarters.

Emotional intelligence is equally important in executive roles when holding negotiations via video conferencing, where it can be harder to pick up on non-verbal cues unless you have heightened awareness of them.

Visionary creativity

Finally, don’t be afraid to think big. We live in an era of true visionaries – private entrepreneurs shipping goods and crew to the International Space Station, and so on.

Just a few decades ago, some of these ideas that are now reaching maturity would have been dismissed as science fiction, but it is business, not government, that has achieved many of those pipe dreams.

If you believe there is an opportunity in a specific industry, it may be worth chasing, even if it’s what the business world terms a ‘big hairy audacious goal’ or BHAG – it might just be the vision needed to land the juiciest executive roles in the sector of your dreams.

What roles are companies hiring for in 2020?

February 26th, 2020 by

Getting the job of your dreams depends on suitable vacancies being available to apply for, and this holds true from entry-level jobs right up to executive roles.

Of course some entrepreneurs build their own business from scratch, but if you’re entering a mature industry, it’s usually easier to join an established company and work your way up.

Here are five roles many companies will be looking to fill in 2020, giving you the vacancies and opportunities you need to progress towards your long-term career goals.

1. Data analyst roles

Data drives profitability in a wide range of industries nowadays, and that means talented data analysts are always in demand.

As new technologies emerge all the time, the data landscape is continually disrupted. This helps to level the playing field significantly for new entrants.

If you’re relatively early in your career, data analyst roles are one discipline where recent education can be as important as on-the-job experience in landing the best positions.

2. Specialist sales jobs

Disruptive technologies need competent sales teams who are able to explain the potential of new innovations to prospects who have never heard of them before.

In many cases, the sales teams working on raising awareness and orders of new technologies are themselves from technology backgrounds, rather than traditional marketing backgrounds.

This is giving specialists an in-road into sales and marketing, a dynamic and rewarding discipline that you might want to consider if you want to get out of the computer lab in your next job.

3. Executive roles

Leadership is critical in this time of disruption and continual innovation, so talented individuals are finding new opportunities in board-level executive roles and senior management.

Getting into these executive roles means combining good career experience with personal attributes like good resistance to high-stress scenarios and flexibility across multiple disciplines.

If you fit the profile, executive roles could be well within reach and it’s worth putting them in your career plan even if they currently seem like an ambitious aim.

4. Human resources

HR roles are diversifying too. An increasing number of human resources professionals are being tasked with upskilling internal employees, not just hiring from outside.

Internal promotions have always been popular to fill senior roles, but the climate of disruption means new senior management and executive roles sometimes emerge with nobody to fill them from further down the hierarchy.

This leaves a question – recruit externally or train internally? There’s no right or wrong answer to that question in many cases, but it is one that is often left to the HR department to answer either way.

5. Regulatory and compliance

Finally, with an increasing amount of compliance and regulatory demand placed on companies across many different sectors, companies need department heads and executives who can navigate the treacherous legal waters.

Again this is often driven by emerging technologies, such as the regulations surrounding driverless cars in your company fleet, or how to handle marketing data collated via a mobile app.

If you have good awareness of the issues confronting your sector or you have undertaken relevant legal training in the past, you could find you have a head-start when applying for senior-level roles that would previously have had little exposure to legal issues.

Are you looking to climb the career ladder? Contact us today for expert recruitment services.

The winding road to chief executive roles

February 19th, 2020 by

Chief executive roles are some of the most prized positions in any organisation, and getting your name on the door of the CEO’s office is a long-term ambition for many people.

But how you get there can be a very non-linear process. It’s always been a combination of many different factors, such as leadership ability, intelligence, a willingness to work hard, and often blind luck.

However, modern-day companies are increasingly looking for CEOs to have experience in multiple different departments, and you’ll often find chief executive roles occupied by former chief information officers or chief financial officers.

In some organisations the CIO or CFO is on equal footing with the CEO when it comes to expressing opinions around the boardroom table.

But by experiencing more than one management role in different departments, you improve your odds of getting into the C-suite overall.

Is ‘lateral promotion’ good or bad?

Moving into a different department at the same level of seniority is often thought of as ‘lateral promotion’ – a move sideways rather than up the hierarchy.

Research shows that this can increase your chances of eventually making CEO. However, too much lateral movement is not always a good thing.

Move to a completely different company and the evidence shows that you don’t help your chances, although on average you also don’t hurt them either.

But switch to an entirely different industry and you’re less likely to make it to CEO, so try to choose your sector early in your career and stick to it if you’re targeting executive roles as your long-term ambition.

Cutting corners to race to the C-suite

Increasingly, organisations seeking to capitalise on talented candidates are offering hybrid roles that make good use of your capabilities in multiple disciplines at once.

For example, you might work in the IT department but have significant financial responsibilities, giving your employer a single source for information about IT budgets and spending.

This kind of role is relatively rare, but if you’re aiming for executive roles in the future, middle-management hybrid roles are one way to show your aptitude in multiple areas at once, potentially removing the need for lateral promotion later on.

Right skills, right time

Surprisingly, the CEO isn’t always the individual with the best skills in sales or marketing, product innovation, technology or otherwise.

Instead, it’s about being the person with the best total capability across all of those areas. If you’re pursuing executive roles within your existing company, look at the current executives for inspiration when trying to fill in any gaps on your CV.

Covering many different disciplines to a good level – even if not the highest level – means you’re well equipped to step into any senior-level role that becomes available, especially if nobody else in your organisation has the skills to step up.

Often this is how senior execs find themselves in the executive roles they’ve been chasing throughout their career – by being in the right place, at the right time, with a varied skill set.

Your 5-year route into executive roles

February 12th, 2020 by

You’ve probably been asked by an interviewer “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” but you might not realise that this is a question that is worth asking yourself, especially if you have an ambition to climb the career ladder into executive roles.

Getting into the C-suite is no small feat for anyone in business and, although it may seem like there’s a certain personality type that’s destined for the boardroom, that isn’t always the case.

For some people in business, it’s hard work and forward-planning that eventually gets them into executive roles, and the sooner you can set out your career plan, the better the chance for you to get a seat at the table too.

Why a 5-year plan?

Career mapping is all about long-term goals and ongoing personal development, and in most people’s career a five-year plan makes good sense, as it’s long enough to make significant progress but not so long that it takes too big of a bite out of your career.

If you’re targeting executive roles, ask yourself where you are now in terms of skills and experience, and what you need to do to climb the promotion ladder as quickly as possible.

Some of the most respected and renowned executives in business started out in entry-level roles with an ambition to become the president of their company – and many of them got there in double-quick time.

Getting started

The start of any career plan is finding the right role to begin with. Unless you already have considerable experience or extremely unusual qualifications, you’re likely to start out near the bottom in an entry-level role.

Keep executive roles in your sights. Apply for entry-level jobs with clear progression opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask about the promotion hierarchy upfront – interviewers should not be put off by ambition.

Remember that promotion, especially to the highest levels, tends to happen from within. If there’s a particular company you’re interested in, find a way to get in the door.

Earn your reputation

Show some initiative and excel in your role and you’ll build a positive reputation with the right people in the management hierarchy.

That can mean taking on responsibilities that are not strictly part of your job description. It may mean taking unpaid overtime or longer hours, or working on new initiatives and helping to bring them to maturity.

All of this helps you to show willingness and positions you closer to the core of the company, moving your name higher up the list when promotion opportunities arise.

Watch your goal

Keep your eye on the boardroom. Do whatever you can to ‘dress for the role you want’. Ask senior colleagues to mentor you, take on management-level duties like delivering training sessions, and so on.

There’s no clear-cut route map into executive roles, but there are sensible steps along the way.

Know where you want to be and plot the ways to get there – based on what opportunities are available to you in your entry-level role – and who knows where you’ll be in five years’ time.

If you are climbing the executive ladder, we can help! Get in touch with us today.