Volume 35: Climbing the Ladder

RoySince I’m on a roll talking about my friends in the industry during this series, I’ll keep that chain going and talk about a friend with a totally different career path: one that goes straight up to the top.

This Climber started out as a sales rep in another industry before he found his way to corrugated. Sales made sense for him when he got out of college, because he’s always been a very driven individual. To give some perspective, this is a guy that played tons of sports growing up to put that competitive edge to good use and stay out of trouble, all the way through getting a scholarship and playing college football.

So after graduating, he needed something that challenged him and sales was it.

He excelled.  And then he got bored, so he moved to something new.

For his next challenge, he joined his current company in the finance department of a facility. After learning everything he could at that facility, he was promoted to a senior role in the finance department of his company and eventually expanded his horizons past that. Soon he was a Regional Manager, overseeing operations for multiple plants. Then a General Manager role over a couple of facilities. Then an Area General Manager role.

Our Climber here has killed it at every turn and recently he’s been promoted again to a bigger, more prominent region.  You better believe he’s not done there: he’s got his eye on a head role at the corporate office in a few years.

My friend here is obviously very different from the last two types of employees we’ve discussed.

Whereas our twenty-year Leadman has elected to stay totally still, professionally and geographically, in order to focus his energy at home, our Climber has scaled the ladder as fast as possible, uprooting his family a couple of times in the process. His mindset has been that his family won’t see him quite as often, but they’ll also never want for anything. As he continues to move up, so do their options.

Whereas our Turnaround Guy has channeled his competitive juices towards honing one particular set of skills, the ability to turn a plant around, our Climber has used his competitive drive to move up and learn lots of different areas.

On top of this, these guys are just very different from a personality and personal perspective as well. Whereas our Turnaround Guy burns bridges right and left to get his job done, including the bridges to his ex-wives, our Climber has become an expert at the art of the soft touch. Sure, he’s an imposing figure that can get tough when he needs to, but he knows that burning bridges can come back to bite you later, and that he’ll need a lot of those bridges if he’s going to move to the top. Most importantly, he knows he’ll need his family’s support once he’s at the top, they’re why he’s doing all of this after all…

In essence, our Climber is a strange combination of our two previous types. Competitive and driven to prove his value, but grounded with his desire to provide the best life possible for his family.

As for what the right career path is for you or me? That’s something we’ll just have to decide for ourselves as we move forward. Is your current career trajectory helping you attain your personal goals?

If not, how do you get there?

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