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8 Career Paths To The C-Suite

What is the best career path to take to get to the C-suite? To help you find the best career path to get to C-suite, we asked PR experts and business leaders this question for their thoughts. From finding a mentor to building technical expertise, there are several career paths that may help you get to the C-suite faster. Here are eight of the best career paths to get to the C-suite:

  • Transfer Your Skills Up The Ladder

  • Find A Mentor

  • Do Impactful Work

  • Start Your Own Company

  • Invest In Your Skills

  • Learn From Executives

  • Work Harder Than Everyone Else

  • Build Your Functional And Technical Expertise

Transfer Your Skills Up The Ladder Before you can become an effective leader, you have to work your way up from the bottom. With that said, I think there is a lot of variability in what the climb up the corporate ladder looks like. Before I became the owner and CEO of The Print Authority, I was actually a lawyer! Although it wasn’t my passion, I took advantage of all the great skills I learned in my time practicing and use them daily in my current role. All in all, I suppose the answer to this question is that there is no “best path,” you just have to be willing to put in the work! Find A Mentor One of the best ways to the C-suite is to find a mentor early on who sees your potential. The path to the top can often be a lonely one, so having someone who can provide encouragement along the way is crucial. A good mentor relationship can also be a sounding board when tough decisions need to be made. This advice can help you stand more ready and knowledgeable as you are given more responsibility. This relationship can be pivotal in your career and beyond.

Do Impactful Work Getting there is an ambition that has to be supported with actions. Doing impactful work is the key because it moves a company forward. C-suite professionals are important as all that we do has a ripple effect. It’s important to have good people in leadership positions to promote a healthy work culture. I believe that the best leaders need to have three things: financial motivation, professional motivation, and care for the people. This is how I work. Having a long-term vision and being organized to accomplish goals is essential. You should have a structure that everyone can work on, even in your absence. Start Your Own Company Starting your own company is a great way to get into the C-suite. It’s as easy as picking your title because it is picking your own title. With that said, the thing you’re looking for when seeking out a C-suite title is the recognition and salary that comes with it. So even though you can pick your title at your own company, the things you’re really looking for will take a much longer time. However, in my personal opinion, the challenge of building a company is a much more rewarding journey than climbing the corporate ladder for that C-suite title. Invest In Your Skills The Harvard Business review consistently quotes research that states that men will apply for a role if they’ve got 60% of the skills, but women will only apply if they’ve got 80 to 90% of the skills. So that means they’re less likely to take a bigger career jump, and it’s even more important that they spend time investing in the skills they will need in the next career step to give them the confidence they need to make that jump. The way around this is to invest time and effort on a weekly basis, investing in the skills you need to be ready for the next career step. When the role does become available, you’ll feel comfortable enough to put yourself forward for the role. Looking up, looking forward, identifying your next career step, and investing in the skills you will need for the next promotion is the fastest way to get to the C-suite. Learn From Executives For some, that will be starting with a degree in the field and building on that with progressively responsible experience. For others, that might be a combination of progressive experience and continuing education, such as obtaining professional certification(s) along the way. Yet others might take a more non-traditional path as various opportunities present themselves. I found it very helpful to talk with executives and learn what worked for them, and incorporate some of those steps into my own career development. I asked what advice they had, and I put some of that advice to work for me. Nobody does this alone. Work Harder Than Everyone Else When it comes to sales and marketing and your path to the C-suite, there’s just one basic thing to keep in mind. Work harder than everyone else around you. In fact, you can build connections, develop stellar marketing strategies, and reach record-setting sales goals—all based on an unparalleled work ethic. Set your own goals, and monitor the success that you achieve. Build Your Functional And Technical Expertise Start by building your functional and technical expertise and institutional and industry knowledge by working in junior roles. As you do this, apply for higher ranking, more demanding job roles. Once you land them, make sure you are also sharpening your leadership skills as you climb up the career ladder. It is prudent to enroll in accredited leadership courses at this stage to add depth to your skills and expertise. Now you are ready for a C-suite role.

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