Earlier this week, I was in Kuala Lumpur talking with a client in the Service industry. During a discussion with the head of the business unit, he expressed concern with his inability to fill a particular role for an extended period of time. Working with his HR team, they had seen over 30 executive candidates - many of whom were referred by headhunters based on a brief provided by his team. Yet they still were unable to find the right match for the position.
The candidate would be required to drive effectiveness and efficiency in the business, and as it prevails in the market now, all executive candidates were trained Six sigma professionals (Black Belt / Green Belt etc..).  Despite liking some of their skill sets, my client's primary concern was 'how to look ahead for a career path' for the chosen person, as most of them seemed to lack core expertise in functional areas (particularly Finance).      
Pondering over this aspect, I could sense and share a few cases known to myself wherein with the glamour associated with programs such as six sigma, many professionals had joined the bandwagon to secure 'accreditations' without developing some 'core' functional expertise or plan their careers beyond those roles! Only a few smart executives had diversified their profile with such initiatives - say for 2-3 years - acquiring decent immersion and moving into business or functional areas of their choice. The executives who dwelled for 4 years or more in six sigma roles with a wish to get out later, got stuck and have been struggling ever since! The intoxication from short term recognitions masked their ability to see beyond.
Let’s be mindful that trends such as six sigma have come into the limelight many times in various forms - TQM, BPR Lean, etc.   Although, some of these may have been old wines in new bottles, the trick is enriching the 'core competence' of one's professional track in alignment with one's passion and aspiration. Such approach could avoid us from getting into desperation during job searches.
To complete the story of my client, we agreed to zoom in on two individuals who demonstrated very strong Financial skills as well as qualifications and experience in leading 'change' and six sigma practices; paving the way for a win-win for both the Organization, by offering a long term proposition, and for the candidate, by offering an internal career development track.
It is immensely helpful when candidates are introspective and clear about their long term pursuits when planning their career, and have the ability to convey these goals concisely when discussing the role with headhunters, ensuring the best match between the organization and the executive.

BlueSteps Executive Guest Writer

Kalyan VKalyan Vaidya is a global-minded international executive with Asia-wide, multi-industry experience - Computers, Healthcare, Auto-electrics, Aircraft engines, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Trading - in various facets of business value chain.

He has led projects in Japan, China, South Korea, ASEAN countries, India, Australia, Europe and the USA, and applies his international experience to his writing and management consultancy. Connect with Kalyan on LinkedIn or email him directly at kalyan.vaidya@gmail.com.

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