Five strategies that can help you engineer a great career
By Lauren Boas Hayes, senior consultant, Cyber Risk Services, Deloitte & Touche LLP
San Francisco, CA — When people talk about career advancement, they often speak of “earning” a new position or new responsibilities. No doubt, it takes hard work to move your career forward. But in this day and age, it’s not enough to earn it. Successful people create it.
My career trajectory has been shaped by my willingness to create the role I wanted to have at Deloitte. Soon after I joined Deloitte, I heard through colleagues about the opportunity to work on a post-breach project for a commercial client that had been hacked. I did lots of research and found the right people who could help me get involved.
This turned out to be a more complex project than anyone had anticipated. After we completed our work, I shared some ideas with the partners and directors about how we could improve our service to do these projects better. They asked me to make a formal proposal and encouraged me to find others who were interested in shaping a new service offering. A few months later, they adopted our recommendations. As a result, my small team of nine people quickly grew to around 40 practitioners. And I found myself working in a newly created role, managing security and post-breach projects for some of Deloitte’s largest clients.
All of this happened in my first year on the job. But none of it would have happened if I hadn’t followed a few strategies—some of which I stumbled upon and some of which I learned by listening to people who blazed their own paths before me.
- Build your human intranet
You’ve probably heard people talk about the importance of networking as you try to find work. But it’s just as important once you have work. Your connections with co-workers will be vital in helping you identify the project opportunities and teams that will help you grow your value and advance your career.
- Explore the horizons: It’s important to understand the whole of what’s possible within your organization—particularly if you work for a large company. I recommend really trying to identify the extremes of the available work for you: the most boring and the most interesting. This way you can gauge your satisfaction with your work and can identify when you need to find new opportunities. When I began working at Deloitte, I had only a vague understanding of the breadth of services, resources and opportunities at hand. I hadn’t even heard of the group that I eventually came to work for and help grow. That opportunity changed everything I do and set me on the path I have followed since.
- Leverage the right resources: Over time, your connections with colleagues and outside resources can become the most valuable assets you bring to your employer. During a response to a data breach, we often engage teams from Deloitte—an incident response team, a threat intelligence team, etc.—with specific experience that can help our clients more efficiently address the problem. Each project requires a different response and knowledge of which people and teams can deliver the service. By knowing the strengths and gaps in the resources at hand, I can help our clients save money, time and headaches. That ultimately makes me more valuable.
- Map your own path: My own experience at Deloitte demonstrates that if you can build the business, if you can win work in your industry, if you can think up a project that hasn't been done and you can explain to a client why that project is essential to its business, then you can naturally build yourself into a new position. No matter how big or small, how cutting-edge or hidebound the company you work for, that kind of entrepreneurial mindset is vital if you want to truly fast-forward your career.
- Break out of your comfort zone: Bottom line, if you just continue doing what you already do today then your job will continue to be what it is today. It’s not your employer’s responsibility to move your career forward; it’s yours. And the only way to make that happen is to embrace change, seek new challenges and push the limits of your abilities and knowledge.
About the author:
Lauren Boas Hayes is a former national team program luge athlete. She began her career in Deloitte’s Federal Cyber Risk Services practice but quickly engineered a path into the commercial practice, where she focuses on cyber threat intelligence across a variety of industry sectors.