Mike Kueber's Blog

July 10, 2012

Career planning – 2

Filed under: Business,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 12:11 pm

A couple of months ago I posted in my blog about career planning.  While giving short shrift to a career in business, I said the following: 

  • So, what would I do today if I were heading off to college like my youngest son Jimmy?  Jimmy is planning to study business, and I think I would give that option a lot of thought.  Whereas my Cold War generation was directed toward science & math to help America compete with Russia, Jimmy’s generation realizes that American businesses need to be able to compete in the global marketplace with Europe and Asia, especially China.  The thing I don’t like about business is that it is highly practical and doesn’t put a premium on intellect.

Lately, I’ve given more thought to a career in business and have concluded that my earlier judgment was too narrow-minded.  My mistake was to think of a business career as limited to two major types:

  1. A small business with few employees.  That is what I was thinking of when I blogged about something “highly practical and doesn’t put a premium on intellect.”  My thinking was that such a business often succeeds by kowtowing to a few key customers happy (sales), and I hated the thought of being subservient to prima donna customers.
  2. A corporation with many employees.  I’ve worked for two large business entities – State Farm Insurance and USAA.  Although corporate life has the advantages of relative job security and jobs that can be many layers removed from customers, it is afflicted by major disadvantages – (a) success often depends on politics, and (b) because responsibility is highly centralized, most employees have very little influence on the business – i.e., the employees are fungible and expendable.  I remember taking CPCU/MBA courses and thinking that this information might be useful, but only if I were a corporate officer. 

What I overlooked was the world of businesses between a small business and a corporation – the small corporation.  A small corporation is big enough to require smart people to run it, but not so big that getting to a decision-making position is unlikely or at best will require many years to attain.

If I were starting out now, I would give a lot of thought to joining a small corporation and then trying to help it thrive.  I suspect that the increased opportunity for work life self-actualization would outweigh the security afforded by a large corporation.

Just a thought.


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