Career Strategies for the Twenty-First Century

Today's leaders adopt specific guidelines in managing their own careers (Wanjumbi 2015; Green 2013). Among many such guidelines published in the literature on career management, the eight specific guidelines offered by Kacena (2002) are particularly comprehensive and insightful (see Table 9.6). Fernandez (1999) offers a slightly different set of career strategies (see Table 9.7).

A set of new career strategies was recently offered to STEM professionals by Chang (2016). They include

  • 1. Join the promotable ranks (prepare to be ready)
  • 2. Acquire T-shaped competences (acquire a broad-based background and work experience)
  • 3. Network to become visible to decision-makers and gain support of key people (manage own brand)


Eight Specific Guidelines

1 Think, speak, act, and walk like an entrepreneur. Adopt an entrepreneurial mind-set, as if your own

investment is involved. Accept the notion that jobs exist so that problems can be solved.

2 Make chaos a friend. Embrace change as an opportunity for growth. The mantra for today's career

advancement is "eager to stay, yet ready to leave."

3 Don't be afraid to break the rules. Attempt to be a visionary, as innovation is possible only in cultures

that tolerate mistakes. Be detail oriented.

4 Know your own strengths and weaknesses. Set high standards for yourself and affiliates. Be very

competitive. Market yourself. Express commitment, passion, and excitement about your own work.

5 Be nonlinear. Radical career shifts will become commonplace. Companies are ignoring specialization

in favor of adaptability, cross-functionality, people skills, and a rock-solid customer focus. Follow the new paradigm that anyone who does not know how to do something must learn or partner with someone who does know.

6 Maintain balance. Set your own priorities with respect to health, family, and business—in that

order—and have fun. "Earn a living, make a life."

7 Stay connected. Building alliances by networking is essential. Establish reciprocal relationships with

colleagues, clients, customers, and competitors. Seek to be helpful and supportive so that they become resources for ideas, skills, and knowledge.

8 Always keep your options open. Keep abreast of the market, nurture skills that are marketable, stay

professionally active, and avoid becoming complacent.


Fernandex Guidelines


Balance your priorities between your job, personal interests, family, and the community. This is the key to having a full and meaningful life.


Cultivate a broad business background through education, diversified work experience, and success skills. Ranked most important among success skills are integrity and persistence. Persistence means unwillingness to accept defeat.


Learn leadership from proven leaders. Observe successful people and learn from their behavior.


Learn what the company and industry are really about. Understand the company values, aspirations, brand character, market position, organizational structure and culture, and qualities of people.


Make an impact. Strive to contribute from the basis of knowledge and attitude. Ask how the world would be different and just a bit better because of your efforts.

  • 4. Obtain requisite skills for the next level of promotion and beyond (know what is needed)
  • 5. Avoid career errors (learn from others' mistakes)
  • 6. Practice global leadership skills (be proficient in specific leadership skills)
  • 7. Innovate to derive strategic differentiation and operational excellence (focus on value creation)

Engineering managers are advised to refine their own career strategies constantly by using the aforementioned inputs as general guidelines.

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