Seizing control of your career in a post-pandemic world

Now is a time of uncertainty and fear and change, but it is also a time of innovation and opportunity. So, take charge, be innovative, and seize control of your career, says Ann Hiatt

It truly is a tumultuous time. So much has changed in the past year and the dust is only now beginning to settle. Sure enough, it will be sent swirling again soon. I’m here to tell you that no matter the time, now is the time. Now is the time to seize control of your career and make it what you always wanted. 

Let me tell you about another tumultuous time. I graduated from the University of Washington in 2002, just two years after the dot.com bust had wiped out trillions of dollars of investments and thousands of companies overnight, destroying the economy. Employment options were few and far between. 

The thing about tumultuous times is that they take away our feelings of control and choice of direction. They make us feel lost and dizzy and hopeless and as if it’s you against the world. Thing is, that’s not true. Ultimately, you are in control, and you can make things happen. It’s all about betting on yourself.  

It may feel risky, scary, ridiculous even! But you’ve got to remember to bet on yourself even when, especially when, no one else will. Betting on myself back in 2002 when finding an appropriate job felt futile led me to where I am today; having worked with and learned from some of the best in the business, Jeff Bezos, Marissa Mayer, and Eric Schmidt, and then founding my own successful consulting company, and being able to work as a non-exec director (NED) for companies like Armadillo. I believe in betting on yourself so wholeheartedly that I wrote a whole book on the matter: Bet on Yourself, Recognise, Own and Implement Breakthrough Opportunities

Businesses are pivoting, shifting, and morphing. The best businesses are becoming their best selves yet, embracing lockdown learnings and challenging the norms of their industry.  There are indeed a lot of things that we can’t control as individuals, but there’s also plenty that we can, which is one of the key messages I bring in my work as a NED. 

Seek out irreplicable opportunities 

What many people misunderstand at the beginning of their career is that the jobs that are the most fulfilling and rewarding don’t often resemble dream jobs on paper. Seemingly low-level job opportunities can expose you to experiences you might not have as a junior employee unless you know what to watch for and seek out.  

Prioritise learning 

It’s so important to learn to focus your mindset, prioritising learning over perfect performance and finding more meaning in your work. If someone had asked me what my dream was when I started my very first job, it would in no way resemble the career that I’ve had. The key was that I did know what I wanted to learn in my life, even if I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do.  

Find meaningful impact 

There are a number of ways you can increase your impact and make it more meaningful: by working smarter not harder, taking calculated risks and building resilience.   

Ultimately, it’s about claiming your power and implementing the changes that will bring you the most meaningful results.  Any meaningful success comes only after repeating the cycle of choosing the right bet, experimenting, failing, pivoting, and trying again.  

Write your own job description  

Part of betting on yourself is believing in your skills and your abilities and knowing what you can offer. Sometimes seizing control of your career takes a bit of gumption! Tell others why they need you! Tell them what you can offer.  

Write your own job description. 

Rob Pellow, Innovation Director at Armadillo is the perfect example of this. He did exactly that. Previously the Digital Experience Director, Rob wanted to pin down his role within the company even further and maximise his talent. Now, as Innovation Director, working across big name brands including McDonald’s, Disney and Carnival UK, Rob acts as a catalyst for the Development and Campaign Delivery teams to both ensure output is of the highest quality, as well as push forward Armadillo’s development capabilities. 

Now is a time of uncertainty and fear and change, yes. But now is also a time of innovation and opportunity. These values are embedded in the business culture of successful companies. Armadillo is a prime example. In my work with them I see how these values are a driving positive force.  

So, take charge. Be innovative. Seize control of your career. Write your own job description. 

Ann Hiatt is Armadillo NED, a leadership strategist, and a Silicon Valley veteran with 15 years of experience as the Executive Business Partner for Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, and Eric Schmidt, CEO/Executive Chairman of Google.  She now lives in Europe, having worked in Silicon Valley for nearly two decades.

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