When it comes to climbing the career ladder, what worked for our aunties and uncles ain’t working for us.
It’s rare that we are staying in the same position for years, and what we value in an employer has changed. Even more so, our journey to the top requires a strategy that may seem different to older generations.
So, as an ambitious professional, how do you develop your own blueprint to get to the leadership position of your dreams?
To help you figure this out, we tapped Lauren Legette, a Black professional who has risen to the top at some of the largest tech companies.
Currently, Lauren is the Chief of Staff of Global Marketing at Google. Outside of that, she is the founder of Black Women to Watch, a content platform committed to amplifying the voices and stories of Black women across industries. Working previously at big tech companies like Uber, Facebook, and now at Google, she knows what it takes to move up in your career and land lucrative positions.
Keep reading as Lauren drops gems on how to make your own career journey in-line with your career goals.
When you’re trying to reach your goals, you have to be intentional by starting with a plan and clearly assessing where you want to be. Your plan should be created with the aim to help you achieve your own north star. For some people that might mean CEO, CMO, or CFO. For others that might mean becoming a VP of the product team, being Head of People, or leading the engineering department.
“I think a lot of times people get into careers and they wait to have their careers happen to them, versus taking control and charge of their careers,” Lauren says.
“We all need to reflect and be a little more proactive about mapping out our careers. What I’ve learned is that your professional journey doesn’t happen to you, you make it happen,” she continues.
If you take a more passive approach to your journey, you’ll start to see a lot of passive things happening to you and your career. One thing Lauren recommended was building what she calls a "career journey path" on a recurring basis.
Looking 5-10 years out, she says you should ask yourself the following questions:
What is it that I want to do?
What is my end goal?
What ultimately do I want to do with my career?
Also, ask yourself:
What are some of the skills I might be lacking?
How do I get to my north star or high-level position?
Constantly mapping out your career journey is really critical!
Think about what your motivators are
You have an idea of what the path looks like, but what will keep you on the path?
Lauren suggests thinking through what your motivators are, or what she also calls "your constants." Ultimately, you need to figure out what needs to be constant at every role to make sure you’re satisfied.
Lauren told me that her time at Uber reflects this second point. “I like working at companies and doing work that becomes a utility for other people,” she says.
Uber became an opportunity for people who were drivers to make money and build their livelihood off of driving with Uber. For riders, there are stories about people who leverage Uber to have transformational experiences. More than nights out with friends, it became a utility for people to use every single day.
“Knowing that really motivates me and gives me the excitement to think through how my skills and marketing could really level up that experience,” she says.
With Black Women to Watch, she built the platform because in navigating her own career journey, she often looked to others who were wiser, more experienced, or seasoned to get inspo. So she created her platform to scale the knowledge and that’s a really clear goal that motivates her.
Being really clear about your own motivators keeps you on the right path and keeps you continuing down a very intentional journey, rather than just settling.
Step on out and into new experiences
As we all know, older generations for the most part did not do a lot of “job hopping.” But for Millennials and Gen Zers like us, opportunities pop up everywhere. When it happens, don’t be afraid to step out and try new experiences, Lauren advisesd.
At the beginning of her career, she started off in television, and then she transitioned into tech.
While it might not have looked like a natural career transition, Lauren told me it was keeping her thumbprint on the pulse of what was happening broadly across industries that led to this action.
It was also the result of being plugged into the news and noticing the big moments that were happening. She thought, 'how can I leverage my skills to be impactful, and how does that align with some of my motivators?'
Take inspo from Lauren. Get your read on or your listen on. Platforms like Mogul Millennial are great resources for insight and you can also turn to podcasts. But remember, once you’re in the know, it’s not about being afraid to seek out those opportunities. If and when they come to you, be fearless about taking advantage of them!
Remember, you can always pivot into a better path for you
Lauren told me she works with a ton of people across different industries to help them make what she calls “professional pivots.”
“I think a lot of people think that pivots are much more complicated than what they are. But the reality is, every single day when we talk about new opportunities, companies are always looking for people who can help them think innovatively and outside the box,” she explains.
Thinking you have to go back to school to get another degree to make a professional pivot?
Think again, because that’s not always the case!
“I think it’s important to really lean on those transferable skills and determine why you want to make that pivot,” Lauren says. “Thinking through what is the measurable impact that you’ve had over your career and how that can help the company reach their goal.”
Also, whether you’re taking on a new role at your current job or considering an offer with a new company, Lauren says that a key skill to have in your back pocket is salary negotiation. “I think it’s a space where we are all underserved and haven’t been given the skills to navigate those conversations,” she adds.
Sidenote: Lauren works with people all the time on this and she can be contacted through her website if anyone wants consultation on how to think through salary negotiation!
As you’re making moves in your career, Lauren’s tips will help you slide right on into that leadership role or in your dream career.
While you are leveling up, don’t forget to:
- Be intentional with your career plan
- Find your motivators
- Don’t be scared to step into new beginnings
- Make career pivots when needed