How do you know whether you should ascend the company ladder or seek greener pastures? Bob DeMarzo looks at the factors that influenced his decision to stay at The Channel Company.
One of the great workplace debates is whether to stay at one organization to climb the ladder of success or hop around from company to company, taking on positions of more responsibility and power.
On a personal note, I have had business colleagues and friends who could not stay at one workplace for longer than a few years before moving on in search of a new assignment, more money or a title that carried with it more responsibility. In some cases, these individuals had a career plan and strategy they were looking to fulfill. In other cases, they were following a boss who had also jumped ship and recruited them or a headhunter found who found them a position of interest. There were many other reasons, of course, but those seemed the most common. On the hand, there were many other executives I got to know at IBM and HP before the split into HPE and HP Inc., who remained at their organizations for 10, 20, 30 years or longer. Large companies seemed to attract that kind of loyalty and longevity.
I witnessed all of this from the vantage point of someone who built a long career at one organization that evolved from a privately held company to a publicly traded corporation that was acquired by a multinational organization more than 25 years after its founding. Eventually, our group was spun out as part of management-led buyout which gave us a fresh start as a midsize company. All told, my time at this organization has been more than 30 years. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it was anything but dull along the way. During that time, I had so many jobs and different roles that I could easily compare notes with the job-hoppers. We would discuss our new responsibilities, new projects, bosses, new coworkers and things we were learning every day that kept us relevant and ahead of the market. The differences among us seemed miniscule. I was learning as much as they were and remained focused on creating or taking advantage of new opportunities.
Of course, I used to scratch my head in wonderment why anyone would stay at one company for a long period of time. My colleagues and I used to snicker that those who stayed at one organization would one day hopefully get a gold watch and retire with a pension. Looking back, that is not such a bad thing—is it?
I had an uncle who worked at AT&T his entire career back when it was called Ma Bell. He was well respected by his family, peers and friends because of his accomplishments which included working with NASA on early space communication with astronauts. Yes, he did retire happy with a pension and lived a long life. For those entering the workforce today, such a tenure at one organization seems an impossibility, but there are lessons to be learned from why professionals stay vs. the job-hopping era we currently work and live.
Customizing my advice for the midmarket IT leaders who are reading this, I would say, you know the facts. Many CIOs do not stay in their role for much longer than two or three years. Many, even members of our MES Board, switch jobs every few years as they move from company to company fixing IT problems, addressing broken processes or helping organizations that do not know how to properly leverage technology. But the key is that they remain in IT leadership roles instead of using their CIO role to become a chief operating officer or even IT leader of a much larger organizations. Some do, but many do not.
My point is, the decision is a very personal one and different for every individual.
Here are some articles that shed light on the topic:
I recently celebrated a career milestone for years worked at my organization, as I mentioned earlier. Thus, the reason for this blog. When I told my HR executive that was I was somewhat embarrassed in this day and age to have accomplished such a milestone she laughed and said, “It’s not like you have worked in a factory doing one task all these years. Look at all you have done and accomplished.” Her observation hopefully can help to influence your decision to stay or go.
After word circulated of my tenure and the social media chatter that followed, I posted a note my peers, friends, colleagues and family. I am sharing it with you in hopes it can help you with your career decisions. Best of luck to all of you.