4 Myths about Corporate Strategy Jobs
Jobs in corporate strategy always attract the attention of eager MBAs and Undergrads. I always wanted to go into corporate strategy because the group at my old company contained some of the smartest people in our business. But what does it mean to “work in strategy”? Here are some commonly held beliefs about corporate strategy positions, and my thoughts about how they are changing.
Myth 1 – Ivory Tower
- The Myth – Corporate Strategists are an elite group separated from the organization like a think-tank
- Why The Myth Exists – It used to be that strategy functions would hire high price consultants to sit in all day meetings and talk about the future. Frameworks describing the business in four boxes or less were compiled leaving all parties confident about the future. Soon enough, you’d see the presentation quoted by the CEO and available on the intranet.
- The New View – Management is demanding thought leadership that can be executed by the organization. This requires strategists to spend as much time on practical details of execution as they are on thinking. The ability to recall facts become less important as the internet has compiled and organized the wealth of information once exclusive to large strategy firms.
Myth 2 – Consulting Rejects
- The Myth – People who work in corporate strategy couldn’t cut it in a big consulting firm
- Why the Myth exists – Large consulting firms pay employees a lot of money to travel the world and meet with Senior Leadership. This money, experience, and network is desired by all potential recruits, therefore, the best work for Big Strategy Firms. If you’re not promoted to partner, then you go corporate with a made-up an excuse about work/life balance.
- The New View– Simply put, some people don’t want to be paid for creating PowerPoint decks that sit in an corner office and are never used. The best corporate strategist love seeing things created that they have helped to shape.
Myth 3 – Perfectionists Wanted
- The Myth – Your presentations and recommendations must look perfect
- Why The Myth Exists – Corporate strategy groups used to resemble big strategy consultancies. These firms required their content and presentations to be perfect because it reflected on the quality of their work. Corporate strategy groups assumed that attention to detail was just as critical for them.
- The New View – An unpolished presentation makes other functions feel more comfortable about adding input. This makes it easier to gain buy-in from other functions which is critical to corporate strategy success. Keeping it raw sends the signal that you are looking to build or shape the strategy.
Myth 4 – Cookie-Cutter Leadership
- The Myth – The leadership skills required for Corporate Strategy are the same as any other function
- Why The Myth Exists – Companies want strategy to “fit-in” with the rest of the organization, so they treat it like any other function. Leading that function requires motivating a team, representing strategy as a Subject Matter Expert, and communicating a vision. Therefore, firms wanted to hire great managers…not great analyzers.
- The New View – Most employees in corporate strategy are highly motivated by the work and require minimal direction. Additionally, no one wants to hire a “Strategy Expert” so the role of Subject Matter Expert (SME) on cross-functional teams doesn’t apply. The best corporate strategists are Subject Matter Questioners (SMQ) who possess a broad knowledge of business with the ability to link it together.
In: Career, Strategy · Tagged with: Add new tag, Career, consulting, Strategy, work