|Launch day of the Sprint network
It is hard to wrap my head around that number thinking how long I have been with my employer as of today. I joined just five years of working after graduating college to be part of something that at that time was totally new.
Prior to 1996 by law there were only two wireless carriers in each town. That helped things remain stable as this newfangled technology was growing and at the same time limited competition. The government decided more players in the marketplace would reduce prices and increase innovation. Of course the billions of dollars that were to be made in the spectrum auctions were not a bad thing either for Uncle Sam.
I was working for one of the two at the time and thought it would be exciting to be part of a ground up new start opportunity.
During these last many years I have been part of a lot of changes. I stepped into this company as a newlywed and soon had a house, a son and a growing set of responsibilities and challenges that come with maturing.
In my work life, I saw a growth of technology and an evolution of my skills thanks to being part of a dynamic industry. I encountered opportunities to explore my abilities and found a path that led me in career areas I would not have imagined early on.
I also experienced the full corporate lifecycle with explosive growth, maturity, decline and now (hopefully) growth again. My job titles and roles have changed many times as the organization changed. Co-workers have come and gone. CEOs have come and gone. In the last fifteen years, there has been turmoil and changes with layoffs occurring on average once a year or more.
As a manager I have hired people, fired people, laid people off, celebrated promotions, celebrated life events and consoled life tragedies of peers, managers, and subordinates.
In a work world where now the average worker changes employers every 4.6 years according to the U.S. Department of Labor, I am an anomaly as are the many others I know that are long time employees here.
Through it all I have remained singular in my corporate life for reasons I am not sure I even understand.
So how does one stay at one employer for so long, through so much change and still stay engaged, challenged and growing?
Know your purpose
My purpose, mission statement or whatever you may want to call it has evolved over the years as my interests and roles have changed. What has remained the same however is that I have consistently taken time to define why I work and then have used my why as a magnet to pull me forward in my actions and in my growth.
The tumultuous life that is the ever-changing world of the wireless industry has resulted over time in a need to constantly adjust my brand as organization shifts. Having a true north by knowing my why has provided focus even when all else around me is seemly in chaos.
Grow your skills through opportunity
My undergraduate degree is in Government from a small regional state college. Not exactly the credentials that will land you that high-level corporate position right out of the gate. Fortunately, work has provided many growth opportunities through in the trenches experience and formal learning programs. Even better, once I locked into my career path I was able to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program to go on to a master’s degree in my field of work and later a senior-level certification. All debt-free and reimbursed by my employer.
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation” –Bobby Knight
Having faced many staff reductions over the years, I would like to say that each time I was chosen to continue it was due to my skills and my performance outcomes. While I have confidence in those areas, I have at the same time stayed prepared. I am always striving forward, learning and keeping an eye on the external market for new ideas as well as the skills that others see as valuable.
Just as importantly, I have worked to stay forward thinking and positive through good relationships with those in the organization that are influencers and performers. I believe you learn best from those that are excelling in what they do.
Most importantly, I have continued to believe in the future. I have steadfastly held that no matter what change may come my way I will be able to handle it and the outcome will result ultimately in a positive impact.
We get back from the world and our careers what we put into it.
No longer after twenty years is there a reward of gold watches, celebrations, pension and retirement. Instead, the work continues so, therefore, I will quietly go about my day and press on while giving my best to the future that has yet to be revealed.
Really, I would have it no other way.