The Three Stages to Your Career

Recently, Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University with Talking Management for The Globe and Mail sat down with Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide, to discuss people and their career trajectories. Click here to view the video interview with Brian and Karl or read the transcript below.

KARL MOORE: You come here to McGill and give us great advice in careers and you talked about the three phases of a career. What are those three phases?

BRIAN FETHERSTONHAUGH: First point about careers, they are way way way longer than people think and I think there are three big chapters.

Chapter number one, is 10 or 15 years. The entire purpose of that first chapter is to take on a rocket fuel. Again, it’s such a long journey so you need to take on fuel for the long haul. The two forms of fuel, in my experience: One is sustainable relationships – something that will be enduring and will last you. The other one is meaningful experiences – transportable skills that you can carry with you through your management career.

The second big stage is all about differentiation. I call it pouring gasoline on your strengths. After a certain point you know what you know, you are what you are, and the real purpose is to make sure that you are outstanding at some core strength that you bring to the business. So it is all pouring kerosene on your strengths and differentiating yourself for the long haul.

And then the third, and final chapter, I call passing the torch. What is the right succession for my business, how do I as an individual have impact on the business community, maybe the community at large, and it can be a very rewarding 10 to 15 even 20-year chapter of a long-term career.

KARL MOORE: So Brian, you are in phase two now and doing very well, but you are probably beginning to look at phase three. What would make you go from phase two to phase three?

BRIAN FETHERSTONHAUGH: I think it is just an evolution in someone’s career and there is not a single event. It is not retirement that does it, I think that I have found in my own life that certain aspects of that third phase, passing the torch, are just really appealing and make me happy and I think are somewhat valuable.

So I am spending more time teaching, in advisory activities, whether it is within my own company or the community at large, I am thinking about longer-term succession within my firm. So I think it is part of the natural evolution but clearly going towards that passing the torch phase, which most people miss, can be a fantastic capstone to a long career.

Transcript was originally posted on The Globe and Mail website.

Brian Fetherstonhaugh is Chairman and CEO for OgilvyOne Worldwide. Brian has a unique vantage point on how brands are built, how corporate cultures are created, and what happens as the world goes digital. In the course of the past 25 years, Brian has worked hands-on with many of the world’s leading brands, including IBM, American Express, Coca-Cola, IKEA, Unilever, and Nestlé. His book "The Long View: Career Strategies to Start Strong, Reach High and Go Far" will be published by Diversion Books in September 2016.

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