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Which way is up?

The quickest way to reach the corporate ladder's top rungs is not always by earning a straight line of promotions. Making strategic lateral moves is another way of working your way to the top.

"A multi-talented executive is worth more to a company," says Richard V. Clarke, president of Richard Clarke Associates Inc., a New York-based executive recruitment firm. "Companies are looking for the consummate administrator."

Just ask Joan Y. Gordon. Three years ago, she went from developing curriculum for IBM's education division in Thornwood, N.Y., to becoming an account marketing representative in Washington, D.C. "I wanted to get marketing experience, win credibility and establish a rapport," says the 36-year-old Gordon, who has a Ph.D. in instructional design and technology.

Gordom made a wise choice. Not only did she gain that invaluable marketing experience, but she is now IBM's advisory instructor/developer, responsible for educating sales executives about IBM's technology. By gaining higher visibility at Big Blue, Gordon met a company vice president, who became her mentor, and also is earning at least $10,000 more.

Although Gordon's career move paid off, experts warn that lateral moves entail some risk. "To go horizontally, hoping to move vertically is risky," notes Gregory Walker, president and CEO of Executive Recruiting Consultants Inc., a Philadelphia-based firm. "There is less opportunity for lateral moves in a company that's downsizing."

If you're thinking of making a lateral move, ask yourself the following:

* What kind of experience do I have?

* What kind of experience do others who have been promoted have?

* Will making this move give me an edge?

* Am I familiar with the company's financial health?

Barbara Ingrid Sutherland, vice president of Sullivan and Associates Inc., a Pasadena, Calaif., management consulting firm, believes that well-informed executives make the most successful lateral moves. Sutherland recommends that aspiring professionals:

* Follow all internal communications within a company to have a greater sense of the tone and direction of that firm.

* Read all internal job postings.

* Balance 40- or 60-hour weeks between completing your job responsibilities and enjoying self-development activities.

* Learn what reorganization announcements mean in departments and divisions.

Experts say that a lateral move is successful if the individual gains additional experience and exposure within the firm. "It's not uncommon for executive-level training programs to move people through all departments," says Walker.

In a sluggish economy, smart professionals must possess as many transferable skills as possible.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:lateral career moves
Author:Wynn, Roxanne
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Words:401
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