Fast Track: Help Desk - It's boring at the top

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The problem

I AM 40 and have been in the "fast track" career lane since I completed an MBA. I decided to specialise in telecommunications as I was attracted to a fast-moving growth industry where my strategic thinking and hunger for challenge would be satisfied. Indeed, for the past five years, I have worked in a management capacity for a successful telecoms company where I have had access to excellent training and development programmes and will soon have the option to work internationally. I don't, however, feel much job satisfaction. I have responsibility but would like greater variety. I also get tired and distracted by office politics and I don't think that I have the patience to continue to "play the game" in order to move into the highest echelons of the corporate ladder. I am completely open minded about possible options as I thrive on the challenge of change. Have you got any suggestions?

DAVID HELMSLEY,

BRISTOL

The solutions

Bill Pitkeathley, director, Barton Interim (a division of Barton International) says:

Your needs, combined with your sector experience and strong management skills, make you an ideal candidate for a career in interim management. Most people who choose the interim route like to initiate change and move on rather than manage a stable situation or play at office politics. You also sound flexible, confident and incisive, which are all key skills for interim managers. Numerous myths surround interims, including the belief that they are only redundant executives looking for a proper job or burned-out executives at the end of the career ladder. The reality is that executives become interims for better quality of life, improved pay, no bureaucracy and greater variety and challenge. You may be asked to provide cover for the unexpected absence or departure of senior staff. Alternatively, the brief may be to bring short-term skills (not available in-house), launch new products or restructure a department. Increasingly, interim management at the top end of the market is a board-level resource.

Dr Raymond Madden, director, Executive Development, City University Business School, says:

Your comments suggest that you have low structure needs typical of entrepreneurs. The telecommunications and information systems areas both continue to experience considerable growth and you might like to consider your own business idea. If you would prefer to remain within an organisation, then consultancy might be worth exploring. Creativity and acting as a change agent are central skills required by the well-known consulting houses. The big hitters mostly recruit fresh MBAs but your sector-specific expertise may be attractive. Another option, which I can personally recommend and which provides a great deal of variety, is executive development itself. Our business relies on ideas and we aim to develop people and their organisations through innovative management practice. City University Business School is highly international with just under 50 per cent of staff and 65 per cent of our students coming from outside the UK, adding greatly to the intellectual environment.

James Gill, managing consultant, Sanders & Sidney plc, career consultants, Regent Arcade House, London W1V 1AA, says:

Why, after achieving so much, are you not obtaining job satisfaction? A simple form of self-appraisal should help you discover what's missing. Identify your achievements and rank them in order of importance to you. Analyse which of your jobs you have enjoyed most and decide on your preferred work roles. List your full range of transferable skills, technical, management and personal. Then look at life goals. Where are you now? Where do you want to be in five years' time? These exercises will stimulate your thought processes and you can start brainstorming possible job options. Finally, start talking to and extending your list of personal contacts. This research should surely discover a suitable outlet for your skills. An added bonus will be your meeting some very interesting people on the way and building a valuable network for the future.

If you have a work problem and want expert advice, write to Carmen Middleditch, Fast Track, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL; fax 0171-293 2068; or e-mail c.middleditch@ independent.co.uk

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