Unlocking Career Growth: Three Lessons Learned From My Banking Journey Unlocking Career Growth: Three Lessons Learned From My Banking Journey
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"Leaving? That's a big question, right?" Those words stayed with me, echoing my thoughts just before I handed in my resignation. Three years at NMB Bank Plc had passed quickly. During my time there, I learned a lot and grew a lot, both in my personal life and in my job. I worked in various areas like branch operations, sales, customer management, and ATM operations. But despite all this experience, I found myself unsure about what to do next.

Quitting isn't an easy decision for anyone. It's a big choice that involves a lot of thinking. For me, it was about wanting something new and different. Even though I had learned so much during my time at the bank, I felt like I needed a change. Working at the bank had its ups and downs. There were long hours, and pressure to meet targets, and sometimes it felt like I was just a small part of a big machine. But there were also good things, like the training and support I received from my colleagues. Despite all this, I felt like something was missing. Deciding to leave wasn't easy. I spent a long time thinking about it, talking to my mentors, and trying to figure out what was best for me.

My experience has been a masterclass, and the lessons learned transcend the walls of banking. These are insights I'd eagerly share, for they hold the power to unlock a path to professional fulfillment, no matter the field you choose. They range from the importance of recognizing your worth in the workplace to the crucial art of building a strong network and the power of saying "no" to opportunities that don't align with your long-term goals. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this journey, as I navigate the exciting, yet uncertain world beyond the bank.

Growth vs. Security: What Matters Most?

Early in my banking career, a manager shared a valuable piece of advice: "Every three years, assess your situation. Staying stagnant for too long can hinder your growth." It seemed clear-cut at first. But as the years passed, I saw colleagues thriving in long-term roles. Were they defying the odds? Perhaps it's my millennial nature - professional growth is a cornerstone of job satisfaction. Stagnation feels like a career stall.

By year three, I craved new challenges. The routine became a comfortable prison, and I yearned for development opportunities. Ideally, you can have both growth and security. However, reality often presents a choice. Recognizing this early helps shape your career trajectory.

So, here's the question: What's your plan? Are you leaning towards the allure of growth or the reassurance of stability? Deciding sooner rather than later equips you with a clearer path for your professional journey. While I leave you with this question to mull over, for me, prioritizing career growth over security is a no-brainer. I'm driven by a relentless pursuit of learning and advancement. When the growth trajectory plateaus, it's a red flag for me.

According to Gallup, a staggering 87% of millennials rank "professional or career development opportunities" as highly important in a job. The research results from Gallup underscore the millennial generation's deep-seated value for ongoing learning and skill enhancement. As a millennial myself, I wholeheartedly resonate with Gallup's findings, regardless of where the research was conducted geographically. It's not just millennials; even Gen Z places considerable emphasis on work culture and career progression as key factors in job retention. When growth stalls, they're quick to leave.

On the flip side, if job security takes precedence for you - often a hallmark of previous generations - that's perfectly valid. As long as you're receiving fair compensation and feel secure in your role, it's understandable. However, prolonged stagnation without growth can breed dissatisfaction over time. So, which path will you choose? Growth or job security? It's worth noting that striking a balance between the two is indeed achievable.

Learning Never Ends

Reflecting on my journey spanning engineering, book writing, banking, grants, and partnerships, I'm struck by the immense growth that stems from continuous learning. It's a fundamental truth: if we aspire to advance in our careers, we must embrace the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills. So, how do we go about this learning journey?

Firstly, it begins with cultivating an open mindset towards learning. Having an open mindset means remaining receptive to new ideas and experiences and actively seeking opportunities to expand our horizons. Learning extends beyond formal education; it involves stepping out of our comfort zones, networking with industry professionals, attending events, staying informed through reading newspapers, reports, and immersing ourselves in the workings of different companies. By embracing this holistic approach to learning, we lay the groundwork for personal and professional development.

Equally vital to our growth is the act of sharing what we've learned with others. While it may seem like self-promotion, it's far from it. Sharing our knowledge not only solidifies our understanding but also enriches the collective wisdom of our communities. There are myriad ways to disseminate our learnings: writing articles, presenting at conferences, leveraging social media platforms to engage with industry-specific topics, or even penning a book to document our experiences and insights.

By being proactive in sharing our knowledge, we not only establish ourselves as thought leaders but also contribute to the broader discourse within our respective fields. I've experienced firsthand the power of sharing. Countless opportunities have arisen from sharing my work, whether it's securing new projects or gaining recognition from esteemed professionals like the management professor from Germany who sought to reference my article in his research paper.

In essence, we all possess valuable lessons and experiences that can benefit others. Yet, it often takes leaps of confidence to share these insights with the world. By embracing a mindset of continuous learning and actively engaging in knowledge sharing, we not only foster our growth but also contribute to the collective advancement of our industries.

Know Yourself

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on UnsplashIn the competitive landscape of job searching, the pressure to conform often looms large, nudging individuals to mask their true identities in the pursuit of employment. However, beneath this facade lies a dilemma: does sacrificing authenticity for the sake of securing a job ultimately lead to genuine fulfillment?

Before committing to a job, it's crucial to delve beyond the surface and grasp the essence of the company's culture. This entails more than just scanning their website; it involves delving into the day-to-day dynamics of the workplace. What are the prevailing values? How do employees interact? What are the unspoken rules? These insights offer invaluable glimpses into the organizational ethos and can significantly influence one's decision-making process.

Moreover, the notion of fit extends beyond mere cultural alignment; it encompasses a deeper resonance with personal values. Identifying one's core values serves as a compass, guiding individuals toward environments where they can thrive authentically. Yet, the challenge lies not only in recognizing these values but also in embodying them consistently. It's about staying true to oneself, even in the face of external pressures.

In the pursuit of professional success, the temptation to conform may seem alluring, promising expedited career advancement. However, the cost of sacrificing authenticity can be steep, leading to a sense of disillusionment and inner conflict. Embracing one's true self fosters a sense of empowerment and liberation, allowing individuals to navigate the complexities of the workplace with integrity and confidence.

Ultimately, the decision to prioritize authenticity over conformity is a deeply personal one, shaped by individual values and aspirations. By embracing authenticity, individuals not only cultivate a sense of fulfillment but also contribute to a more inclusive and vibrant organizational culture. In a world that often celebrates conformity, authenticity emerges as a radical act of self-affirmation-an unwavering commitment to staying true to oneself, no matter the circumstances.

In navigating the complexities of the workplace, individuals often encounter scenarios where their natural inclinations clash with the demands of their environment. For instance, you might thrive in a quiet setting but find yourself surrounded by noise, or you may prefer solitude as an introvert but be thrust into frequent interactions with others. In such instances, tools like a SWOT analysis and the Johari Window can offer invaluable insights into personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These frameworks enable individuals to gain a deeper understanding of themselves, identifying areas where they excel and areas where they may need to adapt.

However, it's important to recognize that self-awareness is not a static state; it's a journey of continuous growth and evolution. While knowing oneself lays the foundation for personal development, it's crucial to remain open to change and embrace growth opportunities. Just as individuals evolve, so too should their understanding of themselves. Rather than confining oneself to a rigid identity, it's essential to view self-awareness as a dynamic process that allows for exploration, discovery, and ongoing improvement. After all, growth flourishes in environments where individuals are encouraged to embrace change and strive for continual self-improvem

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Justine Massaba
Written by

Justine Massaba

Justine Massaba loves to learn, write and share various insights on areas of leadership and management. His mission is to empower companies and businesses to utilize the power of leadership in maximizing productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

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