The funny thing about career advice is that you tend to hear most of it when you don’t think you need it.
I’ll admit that, as a young man, anyone trying to impress upon me the merit of tertiary study and setting career goals would have had their work cut out for them. How can anyone possibly have the foresight to know where they hope to end up, without having the chance to be guided by their own experiences? So naturally, I sought new experiences, challenges and foreign lands without hesitation.
Recognise when inspiration strikes
After dipping my toe into a university degree, it was easy to imagine having more fun somewhere else. I first began working in the geotechnical industry in Vancouver, Canada in 2005.
Working on major drilling and excavation projects ignited something inside of me. It was challenging, it was useful, and the results of my hard work were right there in front of me; a constant and tangible reminder of my contribution to the project, and the community. I was lucky enough to continue working on some exciting projects in the lead up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, getting involved with decontamination, dam reconstruction and road widening projects.
As I reflect on my career now, and the growth and success of Ground Stabilisation Systems (GSS), it is these moments that I am grateful for. The important lesson I learned here and would like to share is this – It is much easier to find something you like and build your life around it than it is to launch a successful career without passion and have to learn to like it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t value the hard work and effort that goes into tertiary study. I often wish I had completed an engineering degree as it would have provided a massive advantage personally, and as the managing director of a growing ground stabilisation firm.
Prioritise what matters the most
As my time commitments to the business continue to increase and the nature of the work means that I frequently operate remotely, I do wish I had been able to weave further study in around my early experience in the engineering industry. I would encourage young entrepreneurs to always explore their options for career advancement when a passion is identified. Managing a company requires more than just being capable of performing the core service offerings.
The skills that make outstanding managers revolve around building and maintaining relationships with people. In business, as in every aspect of life, we are faced with differences of opinion, conflicting personalities and competing interests and schedules. For me personally, managing these aspects of my skill set has been just as important as continuing my geotechnical engineering knowledge.
Again I am reminded of the importance of forming a solid foundation from which to build upon. Before moving into a senior role, the true measure of your growth and success in business should be your people management skills. Once you have this down pat, your confidence will skyrocket.
Passion is your most economic fuel source
As my journey in in the engineering industry continues, I will no doubt experience an increasingly broader spectrum of challenges – GSS operates in a highly competitive market with increasing regulatory requirements, rapid technological change and a dependence on various levels of government expenditure. Success requires personal sacrifices, dedication and self-awareness. All of these things start to form well before you might realise it.
No matter where you are in your career, or in life in general, give yourself time to take stock of what’s going on right now. Are you satisfied? Is there a passion burning under the surface that you haven’t fully acknowledged? Build on what you already know and love; the rest tends to have a way of falling into place.