New Graduates – Here’s your 6 tips for climbing up the Corporate Ladder

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SUCCESSAre you a recent graduate looking for your first gig in the corporate world or are you currently in an entry level position and stuck behind a “cubic” at a large organization/corporation? If you answered yes to both questions, I’m going to share with you some tips regarding the corporate industry that I acquired during my first professional job. These tips were gathered during a conversation with my (then) Boss Mr Mostafa Zommo.

Mostafa is currently a Chief information officer (CIO) at a 100 Billion dollar organization. A man with an infectious smile, Mustafa does not subscribe into the “titles” domain that most people in his position tend to endorse. He sees himself equal to anyone else on his team and in the organization he runs. Each morning, you will spot him in corners and throughout the hallways having deep conversations with everyone and anyone; from janitors, Student Interns to ministers. Mostafa’s story is even more brilliant. He was born in the troubled Palestine, moved to Canada to study and built himself from the bottom up. As a young man, Mostafa understood early on that he had to work harder than the next man. Today, he represents Canada at international technology and innovation events and on two occasions during my time in his organization, he was asked to attend an event where he receive an award on behalf of Canada – what an honour.

All this hard work has paid off too; its  rumoured (in the collidors ) that he always drives the latest “fastest” automobile on the market. At the time of our discussion, a red Ferrari was swiftly shining the otherwise ‘rusty’ parking lot beneath us. So how did Mostafa get where he is? Well, the following six steps are not only his formula to success in the corporate world but also in life.

Don’t be distracted in your everyday work. Don’t get too comfortable with your position. Stay focused and cater to what you do consistently. Procrastination only works in college!

STAY A STUDENT. Ive heard that “classes begin after graduation”. Mostafa’s approach is that you must stay a student for life. If you get an entry level position; you must not only learn about your job but know it inside out! learn about the entire organization, the organization culture and even its people. You need to do all you can not only to be comfortable with your position but also to be “the go to” person on any issues related to your position within the organization. This cannot be emphasised enough!!

  • WORK RATE; Don’t be distracted in your everyday work. Don’t get too comfortable with your position. Stay focused and cater to what you do consistently. Procrastination only works in college! These however, does not mean doing hard labor but simply applying yourself.
  • WORK SMART; This doesn’t mean you work around your job! It means seek clarifications on assignments! ask what is asked of you! find best practises in regards to your specific tasks. Its been my observation that us “Africans” tend to kinda panic and work too hard on tasks we could do more efficient with less pressure and effort! Just get your job done and do a bit more if possible but don’t ‘kill’ yourself.
  • BE A TEAM PLAYER: Pass the ball around and especially to those that don’t look good (at their work). Its not always enough to be a good team player (doing your job on the team) as its those that you helped along the way that will help you climb the ladder and keep you there! Help new members on the team and pass on information to others. Its the right thing to do. Also, always define yourself by your own values and not by everyone else.
  • YOU HAVE TO LIKE YOUR JOB: If you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing; you might as well not do it in the beginning. For you to get to the top, and for you to stay at the top; you have to like what you do. That said, Mostafa notes that “what you like is not necessarily what you good at! But when you good at something you start to like it”. So in other words, its not always a bad idea in applying yourself to something that you’re good at!
  • ALWAYS BE RESPECTFUL: Disagreement is different from disrespect. You can always disagree with people without being disrespectful to them. Its amazing the number of doors/opportunities that respect (the way you treat others) can open for you.

I have since chosen to follow these six steps and so far they are doing me a lot of good. I am not saying they are going to work for everybody or that by following this simple rules you’ll be the next CEO of your organization, but they are definitely worthy trying.

By Moses Mutabaruka

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