In a recent article, Emily He, SVP Oracle Cloud HCM Marketing, discussed three invaluable career tips for career growth:
- Be intentional
- Invest in micro-moments over mentors
- Build a community of inspiration.
This is my personal reflection on how true each of these has been for me!
1. Be Intentional
I wanted to learn and contribute more in the areas of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Autonomous Databases and acquired half a dozen Oracle Cloud-related certifications over the past few months. My manager and global virtual team lead saw my interest, and as a result, I was recently nominated as one of the four regional technology leads for Oracle Advanced Customer Services (ACS) Global Virtual Team focused on Cloud Databases. I will be delivering a Knowledge Transfer(KT) session to an ACS customer next week on OCI. These are small steps, but steps in the right direction to learn more, hone my skills and continue to contribute towards the firm’s success.
The lesson that I have learned is that it is important to take the initiative if you are serious about learning something new. There may not always be immediate opportunities to work in an area of your interest, but it is very helpful to lay the groundwork ahead of time.
In the meanwhile, equip yourself by acquiring relevant certifications—we have excellent training and certification resources available for all employees through our internal Oracle Cloud Learning Subscription—and get involved in all sorts of volunteer groups to expand your network and get a great depth of domain knowledge.
The topics covered in the Autonomous Database (ADB) and OCI professional exams helped me grasp the breadth and depth of Oracle Cloud and better appreciate its interoperability, brilliance, and beauty. It will be helpful to architect the best possible solutions for various customer requirements. In addition, these skills will also come in handy in the triage of support situations post-go-live. Finally, customers value advice from technical professionals they have a close connection with. There is a sales enablement aspect to every engineer's role in communicating the superiority of OCI solutions.
In my previous job, I watched every town hall presentation by the Chief Digital Officer. He was an amazing communicator and storyteller and my main motivation was to learn more about effective presentation rather than the topic itself at that time. After the talk, I went to his office and asked if would be willing to be a guest speaker for a special session at the company Toastmasters club. He agreed and conducted a mini-communication workshop for us, which led to the formation of a business relationship and eventual participation in a group-mentoring program sponsored by him. Since that event, we continue to keep in touch.
Building a community of inspiration
There is no greater joy than being surrounded by inspirational colleagues. This benefits happiness at work, which is far more valuable than any career growth.
I am very fortunate to have come across many micro mentoring moments in my professional career and personal life. Sometimes it came from prolific thinkers and philosophers, highly charismatic leaders, industry experts, and CxO level executives.
Here are some of the best micro-moments of mentoring advice I received which influenced me the most.
- Team size and title do not matter: Making big things happen, when no one works for you, makes you a great leader. It is not the size of your team that matters, but rather on the level of your inspiration and willingness to connect.
This is especially important for those in individual contributor roles. I have found it to be true and never let the size of my team dictate my degree of success or sphere of influence to be an agent for positive change. I can effortlessly connect with those with similar values at any level of an organization for achieving the greater good.
One of the advantages of working for a global company is the amount of networking I can do. Once, I urgently needed a sample deliverable for a project and a colleague I met in an Oracle High Availability Global Virtual Team Slack channel from Spain sent me a sample document in under 15 minutes. I had to use a translator to review the contents of the document in Spanish and in return, I am reviewing a best practice document she is authoring. Within a few months of joining, I knew core product managers of multiple database technology areas who would reply to my emails in minutes and even jump on a customer call on short notice if needed.
- Give more than you receive: Become a contributor and develop a "service" orientation, rather than being solely a consumer, thinking "What's in it for me?" According to the reciprocity theory of social psychology, people reciprocate the treatment they receive. I have always found this to be true in professional networking. As long as one is not looking to take advantage of the other, it works! Authentic people find each other easily. What I have found works is checking in every few months with those that you network with. Sharing articles and resources are a great way to build lasting relationships and achieve results without authority. Additional thoughts of gratitude also strengthen bonds.
- Seek out and work on opportunities beyond your comfort zone: Some time ago, my manager asked me to take up an assessment of Active Data Guard for latest version for a large bank. Until then, I had never worked in a real-life financial environment. However, taking on and completing the assignment (overcoming initial fear/resistance) helped establish me as a subject matter expert among colleagues, and the next time another ADG assessment came up, I was asked to help again. My manager trusted me enough to provide support for a stretch assignment that helped grow my career.
I have found that adaptability is also essential. I have worked on numerous database technologies including DB2 on Mainframes, Sybase, Siebel, and technical architecture over the past 20 years with the most recent being Oracle and OCI/Autonomous Technologies. I have put on different hats as a DBA, Architect, and Project Manager. Continuous learning is especially important in the rapidly changing technology landscape and even 30 to 60 minutes a day to learn new things will help in the long run. For my career, using programs such as LinkedIn Learning and Oracle Cloud Learning have both been helpful.
- Happiness is the goal: The job, above the money and the title, is a place where you spend more than a third of your day. Happiness at work is far more important than anything else. If you can find a way to see the big picture and are able to connect how your work makes the world a better place, you will find more fulfillment.
One can easily find a cause that is appealing from Oracle Giving or by joining the Making a Difference Slack Channel. One of my favorite causes is food security and last year, along with some close colleagues, I was able to help provide school lunch for 200 kids. This year, we have provided several thousand of meals during COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts. Oracle also matches up to $1000 for many charities.
How about yourself? What is the best advice you've gotten from your mentors?
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