For many young professionals, the ultimate career goal is landing a spot in the corner office. But getting there by following a traditional career path can take years, even decades.
However, several young executives have proven that it’s possible to streamline the process and become CEO before your 30th birthday.
To find out the secrets of climbing the corporate ladder at record speed, The Guardian’s Matthew Jenkin talked to two young CEOs about how they got where they are today. Here are the three best pieces of advice they gave about how to reach the top:
Choose the right environment.
Finding an industry and company where colleagues will respect you for the work you do, not how old you are, is key, says Danny Waters, who became CEO of Enterprise Finance at 25. If you aren’t able to work at your own pace and stay true to your own goals and values, success will become extremely difficult to attain.
“Never lose sight of who you are,” Waters advises. “It’s really important that you enjoy what you do because if you do, then you tend to achieve and excel at whatever career you are in.”
When you’re young, you have much less to lose than older colleagues, so take advantage of it, suggests Jonathan Samuels, who was named CEO of Dragonfly Property Finance at 28. “Because the consequences of failure are far less, you can afford to be bolder,” he says. Without a family or mortgage holding you back, you can take bigger risks and go for those bigger rewards.
A lot of getting ahead involves commanding the respect of your colleagues — which can be extra difficult if you’re younger than most of them. Samuels recommends asserting authority, then backing it up by doing your job well.
“There will be times during negotiations with other parties when people will be surprised by your age,” he says. “In my experience, they will get over that very quickly when they realise you know what you are talking about.” Prove your worth and your more senior coworkers will recognise you as someone who’s going places.
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