Navigating through the complex corporate world successfully

Photo: Carl Odame-Gyenti (Dr)

The Ghana National Service Secretariat recently released the posting for the 2020/2021 placement and over 86,000 graduates were posted to various institutions to undertake their mandatory national service. This number, I believe, has seen a significant growth year on year thereby increasing the number of unemployed graduates across the country. This training programme usually lasts for nine months. Undoubtedly, about 95% of these graduates will always wish to have been maintained in their respective places of work. However, the reverse is the case with a few sailing through and getting entry level jobs after their service placements.

The truth of the matter is that Corporate waters can really be difficult to navigate for new potential employees coming out of school. Sometimes, it may seem that your best chance for success lies in simply doing your job as effectively as possible. Though that may be true in many professions, the corporate world may demand a little more.

Corporate careers often reward those who want to move upward. Employees with a strong desire to excel must learn how to play the game and position themselves for that next big promotion.

Personally, I have come to realise that in many cases, it takes more than just doing your day to job well to move up in a corporate setting. As an employee, you need to develop an aura of confidence, responsibility and leadership to gain the trust and respect of colleagues. Let me use this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to persons like Isaac Mwige, Victor Yaw Asante, Sandra Asiedu, Kodwo Arizie, Kwame Asante, Frimpomaa Ntiforo Agah, Anthony Asmah, Andrews Adu-Osei, Kojo Otoo, Benjamin Bright-Davies, Horace Tetteh, Gladys Joseph Dankwah, Thompson etc who helped to shape my early career with a multi-national firm in Ghana. I remain grateful!

It is important to emphasise that, there is no exact formula for corporate success. However, getting the right guidance can be a game changer. In this piece, I try to share some lessons and encourage colleagues who are still navigating the corporate world to achieve greater success.

Image: Forging ahead despite obstacles

Embrace Capacity-building

Capacity-building is basically the process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that one need to survive, adapt, and thrive in a fast-changing world. An essential ingredient in capacity-building is transformation that is generated and sustained over time from within; transformation of this kind goes beyond performing tasks to changing mindsets and attitudes. Many people in corporate offices have been stagnant because there has not been any initiative to develop and add knowledge to their existing scope of work. They are only glued to their existing scope of work. Moving to the next level in career requires personal investment.

Building capacity may come in different shapes and forms and empowers you to be good at what you do and prepare for the next opportunity. Unfortunately, roles in the organisation which seem best fit for a self-developed internal person more often than not, are offered to external recruitments. I know a lot of friends who have never bothered to attend trainings programmes, free online seminars, webinars etc to add value. With all the uncertainty on the job market, coupled with the pandemic, capacity building fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Practice Good Networking

If there is one thing that has helped me personally as I aim to reach the very top, it is having a very good network of people. As Biance Miller Cole put it, ‘Networking is not only about trading information, but also serves as an avenue to create long-term relationships with mutual benefits’’. The importance of the saying “no man is an Island” has been proved to be the reason why many of us need to make a collective effort in the bid to achieve professional success. For many individuals that have succeeded in their career, the causes have largely been contributed to the strong networking channels they have created over time. I recall obtaining an appointment on the back of a close network. It does work and I believe many readers have had same experience.

But the question of who you network with and their relevance to your career matters more. This way, you don’t have to network with everyone. To rise to the top, be sure to consistently develop your network. Networking is almost as important as breathing when you work in a corporate setting. It can be used to gain information, solve problems and advance your career.

Networking is not something that you do only at specific events or on your first day in the office. It demands a consistent, daily commitment to engage others and focus on developing office relationships. Try to be outgoing and professional, even if it doesn’t come naturally. Constant practice will make it a lot easier. 

Image: Forging ahead despite obstacles 

Deploy Your Transferable Skills

On any normal day, my corporate job focusses on managing corporate relationships in a financial institution. However, one skill that has helped me to excel is my level of versatility. As an IT enthusiast, I have been able to integrate technology to drive my client’s business.

While your position may have specific requirements, it pays to focus on your transferrable skills. Soft skills, like managing teams or budgeting time and resources effectively, are just as important as job-specific skills, especially in a corporate environment.

The corporate world rewards flexibility and adaptability. Position requirements today may change tomorrow, but by developing core competencies that can be adapted to multiple areas of responsibility, you ensure that you will be able to respond well to any changes.

Take A Good Role Model

Role model is not new to the corporate environment and its importance dates back centuries. A role model is someone who others may try to emulate or look up to because they are efficient or skilled in some way. Role models usually try to learn as much as they can to better themselves, but they remain humble. You may find role models inside or outside of the workplace. Even in stressful moments, they will be confident in their abilities and that of their co-workers to overcome obstacles. Today, many employees do not see the importance of taking a good role model, but it did work for me.

As already indicated, I remain grateful to the abovementioned persons because uniquely, they all inspired me. At a point in time early in my career, I recall Benjamin Bright-Davies always advising me to pay key attention to my corporate emails, ensure to edit every single line before I press on the send bottom. As for Kodwo Arizer, he gave me every slight opportunity to explore and excel in every endeavour. The rest of role models guided me in several ways on the journey.

Dress Well and Look Presentable

There are several schools of thought regarding the relationship between dressing well and the impact on a career growth. I will for example hire a sales manager who looks decent and presentable than any other person.

In daring to be different, dress and carry yourself like a leader from day one. People often make snap judgments of others based on how they look, so use that to your advantage. Do you show up to work in clean, pressed and professional attire? It may not matter to others

Workplace dress codes may differ but looking neat and presentable is always appropriate. As a rule, try to emulate your superiors. If your superiors show up in formal attire, you should try to do the same, regardless of what your co-workers wear. Succeeding in the corporate world means keeping an eye on the next step up and dressing for that step can be a great start

The list can go on and on, but the message is that, it takes a deliberate and conscious effort to be successful in the corporate environment. There are office politics one must deal with, don’t hate on people. Study the people that succeed and learn to have a winning mentality.

Thanks for reading.

Credit: National Service Secretariat, Aliana Opuni-Frimpong

Disclaimer: The views expressed are personal views and doesn’t represent that of the media house or institution the writer works

About the writer

The writer is a Finance and Investment professional, managing local and global Investors, Intermediaries, Banks and Non-Bank Financial Institution relationships with an International Bank in Ghana. Contact:  [email protected], Cell: +233-200301110

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