With your Dream Job in mind, you need to identify the “Career Capabilities” you will need to be successful. Career Capabilities are the talents, skills, knowledge, leadership abilities, and relationships that are prerequisites for success in the field and occupation you have set your sights on.
In this unit, you will learn the best way to research and identify necessary Career Capabilities and how to inventory the assets you possess versus those you need to acquire to succeed in your Dream Job.
Exercise: Career Capabilities Inventory
You can certainly learn a great deal about what’s demanded of leaders in the field you dream of working in through books and internet research, but we think the most valuable insights on Career Capabilities come from talking with people who are already on a similar path to the one you envision for yourself.
For this MBA Prep Step™, your assignment is to conduct informational interviews with at least three people who are a few years ahead of you on the path you envision for yourself. Under ideal circumstances, the people you interview will be MBA alumni who are about five years post-MBA. Keep in mind that because your Career Purpose and Dream Job is probably very unique, you need only identify interviewees who are on a similar path to the one you want to take.
After you have conducted your informational interviews, you will combine into a single list the Career Capabilities that your interview subjects pointed to as prerequisites for success in the career you envision. In the final step, you will complete a gap analysis, inventorying your portfolio of Career Capabilities to determine which assets you will need to add to your portfolio in business school and beyond. This could entail building a simple list of the capabilities you have identified, or creating a capabilities matrix, which we will illustrate in a subsequent case study.
Figure 13: Informational Interview Process
Case Study: Lucy’s Capabilities Inventory
Lucy, whose Dream Job was to be the CEO of Digital Media Conglomerate, interviewed a number of media company Vice Presidents who had graduated from business school during the five years prior.
Why didn’t she interview a CEO in the media field? Because, like you, she was trying to figure out what skills and knowledge she needed to concentrate on acquiring in business school and the first five years of her career; therefore, an interview subject who was five years out of school had the most to teach her in this regard.
Case Study: Allison’s Capabilities Inventory
Allison wanted to become CEO of a Chinese CPG company and lead a cultural shift to make conservation central to the company’s brand image. She interviewed an up-and-coming CPG product manager who had spent part of her career in Asia. Her interview subject was not focused on environmental issues, but that was not important. From her, Lucy learned a great deal about what skills and knowledge she would need to advance in the CPG field and to position herself for a placement in China.
Case Study: Jason’s Capabilities Inventory
Jason, who wanted to be one of the pioneers of a Venture Capital eco-system in Australia, aspired to be a VC partner in Sydney. He interviewed a partner in a U.S. venture capital firm, a partner in an Australian venture capital firm, and a well-respected Australian business professor at Stanford who is a thought leader in the VC field.
In Jason’s case, let’s go a step further and look at how he synthesized his research into a Capabilities Inventory of the assets he’d need to succeed in a VC firm. He categorized the required capabilities into three areas: knowledge, skills, and leadership capabilities.
Jason next compared the required Career Capabilities with his existing skills and knowledge to identify the one’s he had versus those he needed to acquire in business school and in his future career on the way to his VC Dream Job. For easy reference, he used check marks to designate capabilities he had versus those he still needed.
Table 7: Example Capabilities Inventory
In college and in his career as a management consultant, although he’d had acquired knowledge of finance, strategy, and marketing, it hadn’t been from an entrepreneurial perspective, so he needed to acquire knowledge in these areas.
He had developed skills in financial modeling and some negotiations experience, but he had not been involved in deal making or assessing the business plans of new ventures.
Finally, Jason felt confident in his ability to make analytical decisions as a leader, but he did not feel as confident when it came to innovation and trend spotting.
In addition to identifying the necessary Career Capabilities for achieving his career goals, Jason collected the opinions of his interview subjects on the best career path to reaching his ultimate career goals. In the fourth and final exercise in the Career Goals MBA Prep Step™, we’ll show you how Jason formulated his career action plan.
Your plan for closing the gaps in your Career Capabilities is referred to as your Career Action Plan – the subject of the next unit. When you have completed your interviews and mapped out the necessary Career Capabilities proceed to the next (and final) unit in the Define Your Career Goals MBA Prep Step.
Unit Review: Inventory Your Career Capabilities
- Career Capabilities are the talents, skills, knowledge, leadership abilities, and relationships that are pre-requisites for success in your Dream Job.
- The most valuable insights on Career Capabilities come from interviewing people who are already on a similar path to the one you envision for yourself.
- Complete a gap analysis to inventory your portfolio of Career Capabilities and identify the assets you need to add to your portfolio in business school and beyond.