You have completed your MBA and ready to put your career on fast track. Here are a few tips that will help you to achieve a successful MBA career. Career is a journey and not a competition. When you undertake a journey you take it in your own terms in terms of possibility, suitability and aspects that are of importance to you. In a competition, you subscribe to the rules of the contest and it is always about winning or losing. Many MBA professionals view career as a one big competition or a series of competitions that need to be won, though I am not sure if it is the right perspective.
A successful career is about achieving your professional purpose/goals in life and through it benefit your family and society at large. Hence the definition of a successful career depends on you and not set by others. If you haven’t set your professional career goals, it is high time to do so. You should be able to enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. Don’t succumb to the rat race or the pressure to make it to C-level or find the next billion dollar ventures. If it happens, great – but if it is not your purpose, don’t bother about it.
#1. MBA is not Everything
Are you surprised that this is the first point? Yes, it is vital to understand. No matter whatever institute you pass out from and whatever grades you have achieved, MBA alone will not guarantee you a successful career. As you probably know, several global businesses were found by entrepreneurs and visionaries even without an academic qualification.
The stamp of MBA from a great institute gives you the credibility and stands as a testament to your capabilities in the business world. However, what will make you successful is how you put them to use. It gives you a competitive advantage and propels you into critical roles in organizations. But, you need to supplement your MBA qualification with all the other success factors. Identify the success factors and work on them continuously.
Gone are the days when MBA from a top institute guaranteed you a senior management role. Nowadays, it is all about the value you add and so focus on it.
#2. Keep the Learning Engine Steaming
Don’t stop learning after the MBA. We as humans tend to forget things that we learnt and the best way to keep your knowledge fresh and wide is to constantly learn and relearn. You might have taken up a job in a very specific industry / function. But, let that not stop you from learning about other topics and developing a wide knowledge.
A well rounded knowledge of all functions / subjects (that you learnt during your MBA) will aid you in your daily job to demonstrate a cutting edge difference from peers. Let us say that you are a Marketing Director – As you keep yourself informed on strategy/HR/Leadership/Finance etc. it helps you to develop new insights or form different perspectives on the same topics you know and use them effectively in your current role.
Subscribe to your favourite thought leaders / magazines / white papers / publications. Nowadays, you can do most of them online and there is a wealth of information available. It might be silly to say – but read overview of the daily news and stay informed. Life is hectic, but a little bit of discipline and prioritization will steer you in the right path.
It will constantly bring you new perspectives and ideas to problems. If you have a fantastic library, make it a habit to drop-in or borrow books often to read. If you are comfortable with using technology buy e-books/e-magazines and they stay with you forever. Whatever way you prefer, read as much as possible. You can read during your transit to office, during business travels, in the evenings or weekends – whatever suits you.
#3. Adopt an MBA Life
Do you remember the adrenaline, drive, attitude, energy, determination, curiosity and confidence you had when you undertook your MBA? You always found ways to overcome time constraints, worked effectively as a team, kept an open mind, explored things from different angles, delivered top notch projects, read a multitude of books, networked, socialised, had fun and on top of this all, managed to excel the academic grind?
Most of us fondly remember those days – as intense it was, it was also one of the best days of our lives. Find a way to imbibe this in your life and it will make you more productive and motivated. If you have fellow alumni in your city, even from other business schools, make effort to meet with them regularly. There is a positive recharge when MBA’s meet together.
#4. Leverage Social Media
You have heard enough of it. For some it is overwhelming, for some it is an uncomfortable necessity while for some it is an ideal companion. Whatever is your experience so far, learn to use the Social Media to increase your professional standing. It is an inevitable part of your professional development.
Connect and follow what your favourite professors are saying. Don’t limit your experience of hearing them just during the MBA lectures, but tap into their latest works and tweets. Follow thought leaders in your industry / function. Connect with other MBA professionals. You will always learn something new. Be part of groups that appeal to you the most. I always recommend to have a few groups and be active in them.
#5. Network with Like-Minded People
Explore what kind of people motivate you. It is a great booster to connect and network with people who influence you positively. Also identify what kind of people appeal to you / you look up to. Connect with them and interact. Don’t be shy to ask for advice or ask tips on how to succeed. There are always people who are happy to share their learning’s and advice on your career growth. But avoid just being a receiver. People always like to give and take. If you are lucky to find a mentor, value them as a diamond. May be you can mentor a young MBA graduate?
During your career if you are planning to change your career path or start a new venture, identify and start networking with people who have done so. This will help you to make a smooth move and be prepared for the challenges. In the current world, it is common for people to rely more on technology and less on networking. With a bit of conscious effort you can get the best out of both worlds.
MBA alone will not take you through a successful career though it offers a vital jump start and has certified your abilities. The biggest part of success comes from the collective efforts you take post-MBA.