Milestone Moment: Two Ways To Navigate Your Career At The Post-Director-Level

As you climb the ladder at your company, proactively planning how to reach your next career milestone becomes increasingly important. In the agency world, the path to becoming a director is structured and more than likely laid out for you. However, here’s the truth: When moving beyond director level, the roadmap can seem both ambiguous and uncharted. When you reach this point, it’s worth thinking about what you want to accomplish and propel yourself within your profession by using the two M’s: manage up and map out your career.

Manage Up

Oftentimes, the career step after reaching director level isn’t clearly defined. It’s at this point where some people opt to leave a company entirely, but it’s also a point where you can truly carve out your career. It’s vital to take a moment to look at your passion points and what your company needs and align the two. Be proactive and begin the conversation with your manager by managing up.

Back in 2006, when I was a director and managing multiple large global accounts, I noticed an obvious gap in how we were sharing knowledge and contributing to inefficiencies — from how we managed accounts and what we offered clients to how we worked with each other. These inefficiencies contributed to longer hours and more burnout in our startup environment. The agency was lacking a role that oversaw all the accounts and could identify, understand and implement efficiencies across the entire organization rather than in pockets on teams.

After recognizing a valuable business need that I was qualified to manage, I started having conversations with my manager. I wasn’t necessarily focused on the title, but rather the position and why it was necessary for our company to fill that gap. Once I could make a fact-based business case — identifying the gap, providing a cost versus value assessment, and make a case for why I was the most qualified candidate for the role — a new role was created, and I became the VP of client services in 2007.

We are taught to manage down with our teams before we reach director level, so taking charge of your career path post-director is a shift in the prior process. It’s important to manage up and take charge of your career path