Success the old school way

As any leader in the corporate world knows, success does not come quickly or easily. In fact, the best way to prepare for a leading role in a large company is starting at the bottom and working your way up.

Although every worker who climbed the corporate ladder has their own success story, the road to achievement has some unavoidable steps. Let’s have a look at the basic framework of working your way up in the corporate world:

Start as early as possible

If your dream is to work your way up to a managerial position in a corporate company, the sooner you start paying your dues, the better.

A business management qualification counts in your favour, but doesn’t mean you’ll be walking into a leadership role. Don’t be fussy about working beneath your station initially. Even obtaining an entry level position in a company that inspires you is a step in the right direction.

Set your goal and work towards it

Be specific about what you are working towards. If you know where you are heading, you will know who to impress, what type of training to invest in and where to focus your energy. Researching the company, its history and its various functions is always a good place to start.

Although your current responsibilities may have nothing to do with your end goal, focus on how you are influencing the ultimate well-being of the company with every well executed task. If at all possible, find a mentor within the company and share your passion to succeed with them.

Just remember, a mentor is not responsible for your success, merely for advising you while you walk your own path.

Make yourself valuable

By building solid relationships with colleagues in all levels of the company and taking on extra responsibilities, you make yourself an unmissable cog in the machine. Be mindful to do your best with every challenge you accept and your efforts will not go unseen.

Although your willingness to go the extra mile is sure to pay off, be aware of the sacrifices you will have to make in the process. The temptation to complain about long hours and massive workloads will get to you, but remember what you are working towards. Also, complaining about your workload in front of senior staff is career suicide.

Actively pursue your goals

Regardless of how hard you work, success will not fall in your lap. Keep up to date with opportunities within the company and apply for promotion as often as possible.

Accept that the next step in your ladder to success might not be a convenient one. Admin jobs in Cape Town, for example, might lead to project leadership in Johannesburg. Are you ready to make the move if a great opportunity arises?

Set yourself a timeframe for reaching the next step in your career. Depending on the company, you’ll ideally want to spend one to two years in the same position. Be patient if advancing takes a bit longer though. No great success story was written in a day.


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