Sustainability is here to stay!

Published: 2019-10-10

Are you building a sustainable career for yourself?  

Corporate sustainability has become a buzzword in companies big and small. According to Wikipedia, "sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. It has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social. These three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet, and profits."  

A Growing concern  

The fast changing and unpredictable global economic environment - in which careers progress - has made sustainable careers an increasingly and important concern for individuals, organizations and societies. Therefore, sustainability is a growing concern not only among investors, shareholders, or entrepreneurs. It is becoming part of everyone's life and concerns. It is becoming more than a buzzword. Sustainability is here to stay.  

To be sustainable, a business must be profitable. To be durable, a career must be able to survive all disruptive risks coming from technological advancements, redefinition of occupations, services, and products, and all falls in employment that has been spotted in recent researches, including in administrative, secretarial and some sales occupations.  

These disruptive changes have consequences both for individuals and organizations, making some competencies obsolete while raising the need for new competencies.  

Surviving and thriving  

Something that we must have in mind is that studies show trends that predict reduction and redefinition, but not elimination. So, it means that we still can believe that administrative professionals are needed. We only must focus on building a career strategy that allows us to survive and thrive.  

This is the message I want to pass through my new book The Executive Secretary Guide to Building a Successful Career Strategy. I want us to believe that with a robust strategy, we can keep on making a difference! We can keep on adding value, being business partners, building strong relationships, and loving and being of what we do. It is all about being proactive rather than reactive.  

When I decided to write the book, I was willing to share my experience with you. I wanted to help those who feel lost or stuck to find a new path. Career is not only a job; it involves all dimensions of life. So, everything we do impacts our career.  

The most important messages in the book are the value of building a career strategy on strengths and talents and creating alliances that will allow you to leverage the best of you. It means partnering with the right people to get the results we want.  

Your skillset is your most powerful career weapon  

To get where you want, you have to recognize your strengths. Being strategic is about knowing yourself and understanding how to deliver the best services and products to your customers.  

My book invites you to assess your skillset, talents, and passions. It is the most powerful tool you have to empower your professional career. "In the Digital Age, you need to be comfortable with change and need to be willing to develop new skills."  

Managing your skillset in a proactively way will allow you to act as an active agent. You will interact with the environment, deal with work transactions and traumas, and cope with anticipated and unexpected challenges. A career strategy is a platform for proactivity, adaptability and planning of actions to identify opportunities and eliminate threats.  

The importance of building a sustainable career  

In my book, I mention the importance of building a sustainable career for us to ensure a seat in the future of work. Creating sustainability careers is about getting ready for the new forms of work and getting the necessary skills to keep ourselves employed.  

A sustainable career is the one which will allow you to perform exciting work that exploits all your talents. It will also enable growth and development and help you to be the best you can be. It will keep your professional and personal goals aligned with your organization's goals. It will connect you with people who energize you, and finally, make you add value to your organization.  

Knut Haanaes, a professor in strategy and international management explains that “sustainability is a business approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organization operates in the ecological, social and economic environment.” For me, our career strategy has to follow the same principle: how we operate in our professional ecosystem and private life.  

Let’s make sustainability a mindset!  

Some career sustainability initiatives are:  

Identify your purpose and vision  

Identifying one's purpose and mission in life is energizing and motivating. A purpose will help you improve effectiveness and attain the results you want. We are not only admins!  

We are the most valuable resources our managers can have at their side! Therefore, we also need to know our "why". In my book, I help you identify your values and vision, create your leadership purpose, and embrace audaciousness.  

Find the right people to support you  

People are the essential things in any strategy. "People can collaborate and make great things together. Your career strategy has to be able to gather the best people you may need to build a bright professional future for you."  

Dedicating a little time to understanding another person's perspective should also help us learn, grow, and expand our thinking. If you spend time with people who care about development, you will grow both personally and professionally. People together should mean collaboration, creativity, and efficiency.  

Build a robust strategic network  

If you want to build an influential strategic network, build a diverse network of professionals. Your network should include people who don't look like you, sound like you, speak like you, or have your background, education, or history.  

A robust strategic network will help you accomplish your goals. Stay knowledgeable, boast creativity, get new perspectives, keep yourself motivated, and have the right mentorship program. Collaboration is a necessary route to career progress. Professionals need to reach out to others if they want to address career challenges, help shape the social context in which they operate, and even explore vital new career opportunities.  

Plan out of reflections 

Learning comes about not from doing, but from thinking about what we do. So, what are you doing to ensure that you have a sustainable professional future?   

There is no strategy planning without reflection, self-assessment, SWOT analysis, and a strong desire to survive, thrive, and embrace sustainability. So, allow yourself reflection-time and strategic thinking moments.  

You can’t be prepared for everything but planning ahead gives you a clear view of what you need to attain success. When you have a structure and strategy in place, you create room for accountability and measurement of progress along the way.  

Although it is very much a buzzword, sustainability is here to stay. Then building a strong career strategy is key. It will ensure you a seat in the future of work.  


About Julia Schmidt: She is a member of IMA Norway and an award-winning Executive Assistant with over 20 years of experience working in different industries. She is known for being a passionate advocate for people development and in helping others succeed and embrace their leadership skills. Julia is a proud member of IMA - International Management Assistants, an active networker, mentor and the author of The Executive Secretary Guide to Building a Successful Career Strategy, available now on Amazon.

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