Moving Out of Corporate Might Help You Move Up in Corporate

17th December 2018

Most big FMCG corporates are famed for having organisational structures designed to get the best out of their people and ensure that the cream rises to the top. However, despite multiple opportunities for sideways moves, international exposure, and hard-hitting projects, it is not always the case that sales and commercial leaders can spread their wings when they feel ready to take that next developmental step.

You then have two choices. You can stick it out in the hope that an opportunity comes along, which in our uncertain economic times is far from guaranteed. Alternatively, you can take the risker road “less-travelled” and move to a bigger role in a smaller company. For an Account Manager wanting to eventually become a Sales Director, or a Sales Director wanting to become a Commercial Director, this thought is never far from their mind.

There is only one thing stopping these thoughts from becoming a reality.

Risk.

If we define risk as something that is rarely done by the “crowd” then maybe moving out of corporate sphere for a while isn’t actually so risky. People do it all the time.

If we take the example of a Sales Director in a medium or large corporate, it is easy to see why a Senior Account Manager might lack some crucial aspects of the role. They might not have had to do so much business development in their more junior role. They certainly wouldn’t have had input to the overall company sales strategy. The only risk for them is staying in their current role.

Moving to a more agile and dynamic operation will give them all of this experience and more – and if they enjoy success, they will always be welcomed back with open arms at a higher level in the corporate world (should they want to go back!).

If they are successful…. but what if success does not come?

This is where most people perceive the risk of moving. In a smaller operation, success depends far more on the individual (and the team around them). It is indeed important to ensure that you are moving to a company where the culture fits your personal style, but even if this is the case, there are more potential obstacles to success.

If you are moving to a smaller company for the experience, then there is nothing stopping you moving to another similar firm until this has worked out, and the bigger corporates understand the reality of the challenges, so they will be far more welcoming to take someone back than you would think. So, yes, the risk of failure is higher, but if you don’t fail too many times, the door back is often always open.

That doesn’t sound like such a risk to me, especially as the potential rewards are so high.

I have recently placed a Sales Director into a global FMCG player with just such a background. He spent the vast majority of the interview talking about his career in the smaller players and barely touched on his previous blue-chip career. There is so much that you can learn about yourself in a smaller pond. Yes, there are risks, but if you remain self-aware, they are not so hard to manage.

Leaving the corporate world could be the best way to move up in the corporate world.