Regardless of the distance, winning crews develop their race plan before pulling off the dock and then execute it during the race itself. The plan, for example, may be to take several quick strokes to get the boat moving, lengthen out at a high rate, settle into a steady pace, and then finish strong and fast, leaving everything on the water.

Like rowers, we should be intentional in our careers, developing our “race plan” and then executing it. Whether you’re a student at university and about to embark on your first career search, a young professional considering a new opportunity, or a seasoned professional thinking about the legacy you want to leave, you should thoughtfully develop a strategic career plan.

To take charge of your future and build for career success in the Digital Age, I suggest leveraging an iterative strategic career planning process. Specifically, start by defining your career goals (e.g., my goal was to be a CFO). Next, outline your potential career path, which might start with taking an entry-level data analytics role, followed by operational finance roles supporting sales, brand marketing, and/or supply chain. You may also want to spend time in corporate control, treasury, and/or internal audit, as well as in mergers and acquisitions and/or on other special project teams, ultimately becoming a division CFO and then corporate CFO.

Once you know where you want to head and the path you intend to take to get there, begin working on your plan. To do so, perform your current responsibilities with excellence, construct a personal development plan to gain appropriate skills and experiences, and build strong mentor relationships to support you along the way.

Finally, revisit your career goals and progress from time to time, refining your plan as needed. That is, ask yourself if your strategic career plan remains consistent with your current career goals, aspirations, and priorities. And, if there is a disconnect, determine what needs to change.

As you develop or refine your strategic career plan, know that IMA® is here to support you. For example, you have access to IMA’s exclusive career management tool, CareerDriver®, which can help you evaluate your skill set, create your personalized development plan, and explore your career options. IMA also offers you a global passport for business, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification, and once you’ve earned it, access to the CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) certification.

IMA also offers more than 1,000 continuing education courses, including courses on data analytics and visualization, blockchain, cybersecurity, robotic process automation, ethics, leadership, and much more, as well as free webinars and a growing number of podcasts on various topics. In addition, you can enroll in the IMA Leadership Academy Mentoring Program to engage with a mentor or mentee, gain access to IMA’s cutting-edge research and award-winning publications, and leverage the job portal. And of course, you can build your résumé by taking on a volunteer leadership role within IMA and network with IMA’s global community.

Best wishes as you formalize and execute your race plan!

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