Following is another email that I just sent my Career Board today:
First, let me elaborate a little on my objective (Change the world through business leadership!) because I know it sounds cheesy. The premise is pretty simple: governments and NGOs are just some of the parties that can address some of the major challenges the world faces today. In a capitalist society, and in a global market-driven economy, I believe very strongly in the power of the business to address them as well. When I look back at the world-changing developments of recent history, many (most?) of them have come from private industry. Furthermore, my professional experience is in business so, if I want to change the world (and I do!), it makes sense for me to focus on this area.
A company like Exxon-Mobil, for example, has a profound ability to change the world. As one of the world’s largest energy producers and global employers, everything it does or doesn’t do has serious consequences for the world’s energy, environmental, and social challenges. It has the power to change the world for the better—or for the worse. Consequently, it is crucial that Exxon-Mobil’s leadership “get it right.” I am not so presumptuous as to contend that I have all the answers about what is “right” or that I am qualified to take over as CEO of Exxon-Mobil tomorrow. However, I consider it my duty to give it my best shot.
Thus my strategy is as follows:
1. Identify industries that have the greatest potential to change the world.
2. Match those industries with my interests and background. About which industries am I most passionate? To which industries can I offer the most value with my own skills and experience. For example, I believe biotechnology can be a world-changing industry but it is not a great match with background.
3. Learn more about my target industries with industry analyses, analyst reports, and conversations with contacts in those industries. Validate my understanding of the industries and what I would bring to each one. Study the business system(s) of each industry and identify the specific activities that are most interesting and/or offer the greatest opportunity to change the world.
4. Identify and target specific companies that are most interesting within each targeted business activity. Criteria include: innovation, financial performance, market performance, quality of work life, quality of leadership, opportunities for learning/mentorship, and geographic location/travel.
5. Market myself to targeted companies by networking, on-campus recruiting, and unsolicited applications.
I am currently in steps 3 and 4, depending on the industry. I have also subsumed my nanotechnology interest under green energy and commercial space operations. The more I learned about nanotechnology, the more I confirmed that my interests in it were almost exclusively insomuch as it relates to these other two industries. My status for each of my remaining three target industries is as follows:
Green Energy: Step 4
The sub-industries that interest me most are:
Renewables (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal): technology development (e.g. nanotechnology thin-film solar cells), device manufacturing (e.g. wind turbine manufacturing), operations (e.g. wind farm development)
Distribution: technology development (e.g., nanotechnology high-efficiency transmission lines or high-capacitance residential power storage)
Vestas (world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer) and AES (a power generator/developer that includes renewables in its portfolio) recruit on-campus for their leadership development programs. Shell, which has more green energy in its offering than it used to also recruits here but I just don’t get a great “vibe” from them in terms of fit. In Step 4 I am identifying all of the other companies to target as well.
Technology: Step 3
I am most interested in revolutionary web software companies, not IT services companies, but I am still in Step 3, identifying exactly which business activities and sub-industries to target proactively.
Google recruits on-campus and is definitely on my list. Amazon may sign up too. British Telecom has also contacted me and motivated me to open up a little to technology companies outside of my web software scope. They are looking for global leaders to help them expand their concept of “the 21st-century network” worldwide and are offering what sounds like a very appealing leadership development program.
Commercial Space Operations: Step 3
I am still validating this industry to understand whether I should target it or not. It is very nascent, which is both exciting and challenging—there are no industry reports, for example. I have contacts in NASA and NASA contractors but I really need to talk to people IN this industry and they are hard to find. Using online networking tools I have generated some contacts at the Space Island Group (http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html) and am cold calling this week. If anyone has other ideas about how to learn more about *commercial* space operations, I would love to discuss.