I’ve looked at a lot of company websites lately and notice that there are a lot more women listed in the staff and corporate officer pages. Can it be – women are finally breaking through the corporate ranks?!! Being me, I always do a little more reading – where is the company headquarters, where are their key markets and critical clients. Then I start matching up this information to the staff and see who is running what.
I’ve noticed a trend. Yes! – Women are definitely running more corporate offices – in Timbuktu!
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?!
Having spent a great deal of my career in Timbuktu, the Middle-of-Nowhere and the End-of-the-Road, I know how to tell the difference between a great opportunity and a career dead end.
What do you do when you get called into your boss’s office and are asked to run the satellite office in Timbuktu?
If you were a man, the first thing you ask is “What’s in this for me?”
Men want to know if this is a real promotion. If so, then they want to know what is expected – what do they need to accomplish so they can return to a more desirable location as soon as possible. Men negotiate all the terms including compensation and what position/promotion they will be guaranteed if they accomplish the goals. They look at it as if they are doing the company a favor.
Men understand that an assignment away from the home office is a risky proposition. It is harder to know what is going on in the company, to know where the next opportunity is. You lose connection with the decision makers. If the new location’s idea of fine dining and entertainment is karaoke night at Applebee’s and the best accommodations are at the Holiday Inn Express, don’t expect many corporate visitors. It is easy to be forgotten when you are in Timbuktu.
You need to be wary if you are being lured away from the home office with a vague promise of opportunity, the chance to “build your own office.” It may sound good but how are you (and your company) going to measure your success? What are you there to achieve that will move your career forward? This must be defined.
Some satellite offices may be a good fit for your life – there may be a slower pace that allows for you to spend more time with your family in a location that is family friendly. The downside is that when you and your family are ready to leave, what opportunities will be available? Who will replace you? If you stay too long then you sent the signal that you are not interested in advancement and leaving may take a lot of politicking.
What makes a remote location an opportunity to be seized?
Nothing is better than a crisis! Taking over a failing operation is a great opportunity – you want to be the company’s best problem solver, the company hero. Take care of the crisis and the company owes you!
But, if you decide to take on the company’s latest crisis, know what you are getting into. There will be stress, long hours and you will be on a tight timeline. Before you take the assignment know exactly what is expected of you and how soon you are expected to perform miracles. Failure to turn around the operation within perceived timelines can stunt your career. And before you take an assignment like this, do some tough negotiating on your compensation and rewards.
Another good reason to go to Timbuktu is to open a new office in an emerging market. Timbuktu must be a boom town that your competitors are also flocking to. (If you competitors aren’t going there, you may want to reconsider.) The nice thing about a new market is that you can build your own legacy. Then if you want to leave, there will be plenty of up and coming managers clamoring to replace you. When others want your position for the career opportunity, you created a new career track where all you can do is move up.
Each time I took a position in Timbuktu, I had a selfish reason for going. I understood exactly how my time in Timbuktu could advance my career.
I will always advise women to consider these opportunities. Many men won’t take them, primarily because their families don’t want to go. You too need to consider the implications on your personal life. I often felt like I was living for my work – it was difficult to have the family and personal life I really wanted. But then I love to travel and explore – and until you’ve experienced karaoke night in Timberon NM, you haven’t lived!! OMG!!!
So when you are offered that position in Timbuktu don’t be immediately flattered. Take a step back and see it for what it really is. Know if your company is giving you a great opportunity or setting you off to the side.
Empowered women know that in real estate and in business, location matters.
I want to hear your thoughts and opinions so leave a comment!!
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