Whether you’re a one-industry career veteran whose industry recently succumbed to unfavorable economic conditions, or an executive who wants to or needs to change industries, there is a great deal of due diligence required for a successful transition. In our current economic environment where most employers are unwilling to take chances, executive candidates must have a thorough understanding of the industry they are pursuing and be able to articulate the value they bring to an organization.
If you’re in this situation, it’s best at this stage to inventory your qualifications, examine your company preferences, and research industries.
To begin, create a list of personal preferences including:
- Values, interests, and aspirations
- Innate talents, greatest strengths, and core competencies
- Preferences regarding corporate culture and values
Next, evaluate your company preferences:
- Company size – small-, mid-, large-cap
- Structure – public, private, non-profit
- Source of funding – VC, PE
- Growth model – organic or growth by acquisition
- Footprint – local, national, international, global
- Type of organization – traditional, pioneer, hyper growth, etc.
- Governance – board, regulatory bodies
- Leadership style – hierarchy, flat
- Executive turnover rate and reasons
Then, research and identify industries in which you have an interest using these sites:
- NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes: http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html.
- NYSE Euronext: http://www.nyse.com/about/listed/lc_all_industry.html. The Industry Classification Benchmark* (ICB) — which comprises 10 industries, 18 supersectors, 40 sectors and 114 subsectors — provides accurate and globally accepted industry and sector classifications.
- Polson Enterprises: http://www.virtualpet.com/industry/. This site provides an online step-by-step process for researching industries and companies with links to thousands of resources.
- Hoover’s Online, http://www.hoovers.com – Site has an Industry Master List with drill down capability to industry trends, industry snapshots, major companies in the industry, associations, organizations, publications, press releases, glossaries, and more.
Completing these steps will lay the groundwork for a comparison between the industry or industries in which you have worked and the similarities or lack thereof with other industries. This will help you identify your transferable qualifications and the value you bring to another industry table.
With proper due diligence, executives are able to change industries smoothly. You simply need to identify key industry characteristics and aggressively pursue the transition to achieve the success you desire when landing an executive position at a new company or in a new industry.