Our management professors always told us about corporate life and that is why we studied and worked hard to score well and join the corporate rat race. Those were the easy days. The corporate ladder would stare at our face and we would strive hard to go up the next rung. If the corporate ladder was steep, we would run into the occasional snake and falter but it was clear that the way forward was up.
But the ladder disappeared and the corporate race changed the rules. The way forward was no longer up, it was now dictated by, what I coin, ‘The Corporate Trellis’. The corporate race today is not on the ladder but has been replaced by ‘The Trellis’. The way forward is sideways. Corporates hire and value cross-department exposure. How you move using ‘The Corporate Trellis’ dictates when you will reach the top.
A.G. Lafley, CEO, Proctor and Gamble, points out, “I learned to think, to communicate, to lead, to get things done.” Jim Collins in his book, ‘From Good to Great’ was perhaps the first to dispel the myth that successful leaders rise to the top because they are naturally outgoing.
It is, thus, important to put yourself in others’ shoes. This lateral movement also means that you do not have to wait for your boss to move up or move out before you progress. ‘The Trellis’ brings with it this great opportunity. Today, companies are not just led by people from Marketing but also from the Finance and the Human Resources or Operations stream.
Edward Neville Isdell, Chairman and CEO, Coca-Cola Company, spent half his career on the bottling side of the business. Before that, he ran his own investment company. Prior to joining Pepsi as Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Indra Nooyi worked in strategy-oriented executive positions at Asea Brown Boveri, Motorola, Inc. and the Boston Consulting Group. Today, she sits proud as the Chairperson and CEO at Pepsi Co and in her climb up the ‘Corporate Trellis,’ she has held the portfolio of Chief Financial Officer.
David Lowden, CEO, TNS PLC, a provider of market information and business insight, took on the role after a job in the Finance department. The ‘Corporate Trellis’ thus goes a long way in relieving boredom, ensuring retention, and gives birth to executives who are far more aware, have greater insight and perspective.
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