Answer: There is only one way to determine if Nathan could succeed in a new industry and enjoy learning about it compared to the industry he had always loved. He would have to take a major leap in a new direction knowing the risk. That opportunity came up and he accepted an offer. The answer became clear. He also felt ready to assume a strategic, leadership role.
See analysis below about the issues involved in his decision-making process.
There was only one opportunity outside of the transportation industry that was interesting enough to lure him away to see how he liked it, and that was short-lived. While the company was a successful technology market leader, he stayed less than a year. He realized he had made a mistake and accepted a challenging opportunity returning to a transportation company, the industry he loved. He would never veer off course again.
He realized that the scope of the job he wanted was at the Senior VP level and he would have to be open to relocation anywhere the job was based. He became a global leader in viewpoint and experience. In every role he took, his ability to offer strategic counsel to senior executives, his operational skill to execute programs and his ability to manage crisis situations, led to reporting to the CEO.
Over the course of his corporate communications career, he commented that, “The rest of the world caught up with the tools used for employee communication—videos, texts, etc. We are now somewhat at a crossroads. Employees get so much information but what has been lost is the art of personal communication. Employees want to hear from their bosses and those managers need to step up their communications. Managers must learn how to communicate effectively and build trust. Surveys tell us people trust their friends most like themselves.” This commitment to employee communications is a viewpoint he has held since he began his career.
Analysis, Judith Cushman
The issue of being a “one industry” communications leader has both pros and cons. I have seen executives who love sports or consumer travel or the telecom industry, progress until the they are qualified for the most senior positions in their industry. That depth of knowledge is invaluable but limiting. When professionals are ready for that role, if the industry is in a slump, or if those jobs are not in “play” there is no way to move up to a VP communications post. It ultimately is risky to have only one path to a VP role.
In Nathan’s case, he has exceptionally strong credentials that put him at the top of any list and he has the flexibility to relocate without restriction for an appealing offer. He has been able to advance his career without any struggle about timing or lack of opportunity. That is very rare.