You’ve finally earned your ticket (the MBA) to the executive ranks. Graduation is over, you have a diploma and now you need to figure out how and, most importantly, where to put your skills to work. The job market for managers is fairly hot right now. If you haven’t found your opportunity yet, here are some places you might not have thought to look.
New business. Many companies tout their successes to the world, mostly in the hopes of winning favor with potential customers but you can use these press releases to identify potential employers. Small to medium companies often win big contracts from the private sector and government sector for which they are not totally prepared to manage. While they may have established some preliminary management strategy to win the business, they may get changes to what they were awarded that is outside of their proposed plan. Change always creates opportunity for establishing vision and direction.
Your action: Monitor websites in your industry to identify companies that have announced big wins. Learn as much as you can about their new business and determine where you can help out. Then, contact someone in their Business Development department to see if you can get connected with the person responsible for that new business (e.g. department manager). You go to Business Development people because they like to talk and negotiate. Pitch your knowledge, skills and abilities in a way that clearly articulates how you can help them manage that new business.
Mergers & Acquisitions. Companies are always trying to find ways to make money. One of these ways is through the acquisition of other companies. Big companies buy smaller companies to expand into new markets, increase their intellectual property or simply to show growth to investors. Usually these transitions are challenging and difficult to manage as larger companies are not adept at adapting small companies into their fold. Often, they will select new management for the smaller companies to help them make the transition, and this is where you can help. A word of caution: Most of these acquisitions only last a few years before they are spun off or shut down. If you’re not afraid of change, this is the type of business to follow. M&A is always happening. Read about 2015 M&A activity here.
Your action: M&A activity is not a highly publicized activity, at least not until the deal has been made. The best way to learn about these activities is to tap into the industry grapevine and listen for rumors. Talk with Business Development people to learn about rumors of mergers and acquisitions in your industry. Go to trade shows and industry association meetings and conferences to gather information. Companies love to talk about these rumors, which often have a strong element of truth. Get your information and strategy ready for how you can make that acquisition more successful. Then, maintain contact with your connections to identify when it will occur. Send your resume and cover letter that explains how you are the solution to the success of the new acquisition.
Venture capitalists (VC). Another great source of management changeover is companies owned by venture capitalists. Typically, VCs provide funding to companies and try to grow the companies as quickly as possible in an effort to sell them in a few years for a large profit. This process of buying and selling companies creates a need for exceptional leaders who can manage each transition. Often, VCs will identify organizational leaders they like and will seek to work with them many times during their career. But there are also opportunities to introduce yourself and how you can help make them more successful.
Your action: Search the web for venture capitalists in your industry. It’s as easy as doing a Google search on the name of your industry and the words “venture capitalists.” Click the links to identify numerous VCs in your industry. Then, research them to find out what companies they invest in. Create your business case for why they should hire you and send it to the VCs and the companies they own. But make sure you know which of their companies may be in line for a transition before you engage with them.
Having an MBA is great. You do learn about business. Unfortunately, business isn’t run anything like it was when the MBA was first created. Constant change is the flavor of the day. Managing in transition isn’t the same as steady state management. My guess is that there are far more companies in transition than there are in steady state. If you can create a compelling case for why you’re the best for transition management, then you’ll likely find an opportunity to prove it.