The top 3 career tips – Executive Search Supply Chain

Inspired-Search | 1 September 2016

Executive search supply chain learnings

Careers can look very impressive if they are long enough and if you look back on them. In the Inspired-Search practice of executive search supply chain (headhunting) for global supply chain and logistics positions, we have, over the years, spoken to a high number of C-level executives.  This has learned us that most of those executives had, at the outset of their working life, no idea which way their careers would develop. Although in hindsight it might look like a carefully planned career, the reality is that they just took it step by step and quite often just took the next step based on what looked best at the time.

People with less successful careers are by definition never asked to share their journey’s, leaving us with only success stories. Personally I believe one cannot underestimate the power of luck: being at the right place at the right time, joining coincidently the right company, being born at the right place, having a good set of brains etc. Just hard work will not do the trick: lots of people are working very hard on a daily basis so this alone will not set you apart.

However, through my boardroom discussions on career development and listening to personal stories I’ve collected three essentials that will be extremely important for you to get the luck factor on your side. They might sound obvious but nevertheless the most obvious is often true anyway….

Do your job as good as possible

#1 Regardless the job you’re in and the position you hold, you need to do your job as good as possible and be better than anyone else. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or the junior clerk at the reception desk: do what you need to do and do it better than people expect. There should never ever be a discussion on underperformance, full stop. Go all the way to exceed expectations, just go that extra mile, make sure your company is the most successful team, your customers are the happiest, peers love to work with you and your team, suppliers deliver top performance etc. As Executive Search Supply Chain professionals we will always look at performance rather than responsibilities.

Help others

#2 Help others, make a habit of taking ownership of actions that are not necessarily part of your job description, might cost you a little effort but might have a big impact on others.  If you’re in the logistics department you might sit on some data that might help the sales guy to bring in a large deal. Spend time to get the data, help the sales guy to understand and to secure the deal. He will get the credits (and the bonus) but that’s absolutely fine. People will recognize the fact that you went beyond your duties and helped someone else. Apart from the fact that this is good for your career, it is a lot of fun, it will give you a good feeling and it is very good for the business across the board.

Ensure people know what you and your team have achieved

#3 Make sure that people know what you and your team have achieved. Celebrate successes and make sure that people understood what your contribution was. In some cultures, this might feel as a little uncomfortable, but remember that if no one knows what you’ve accomplished you will never benefit from it. The way you communicate however is essential, just shouting how great you are will not do the trick. Make sure your dashboards are always seen by the right people (including the layers above your manager), give the credits to whom they belong to and do never ever claim successes that were not yours, nominate your employees for awards and nominations, speak at conferences, get your team in the corporate magazine, get a department section on the intranet etc. Recognizing achievements from others are important as well, be the first one to congratulate others in public for their outstanding performance.


Oskar Verkamman

Oskar Verkamman is Managing Director of Inspired-Search, an international specialized executive search and interim management firm for Supply Chain and Logistics functions and active in Europe and Asia.