The MBA CSEA (MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance) is an association that brings together the career services of MBA programs in major business schools around the world. Members of the MBA CSEA include Harvard, INSEAD, IE, Bath SoM and WHU. One of BigName’s clients, Italy’s SDA Bocconi, which is gradually climbing the world business school rankings, is also a member.
In 2019, we were invited to SDA Bocconi’s Berlin convention so we could demonstrate to other schools our agile and visual approach to Personal Branding through the use of our Personal Branding Canvas.
For a number of years now, our methodology has been used in the master’s programs of various business schools including ESSEC Paris, WHU Düsseldorf and Bath SoM. We are pleased to say that our contributions at St Gallen, MIP and SDA Bocconi have earned us an average student satisfaction level of close to 85%!
Is Career Planning dead?
In the current VUCA climate, many career services now understand that career planning has changed markedly. Today, there is no longer room for the traditional planning and professional development approach.
In this context the Steve Blank’s famous quote below could be rephrased as: “No Career Plan Survives The first Contact With A Recruiter”!
Instead, agility as a paradigm must be applied to careers too, in order to provide students with the tools and know-how they need to self-direct.
Career Services, on the other hand, can no longer act as mere suppliers of job opportunities or contacts, as often still erroneously required by MBA candidates. Instead Career Services must help students to develop self-direction.
An agile and “projective” exercise
SDA Bocconi was the very first Business School to fully embrace our approach after giving us an opportunity to implement an agile career program. This program, aligned to our concept of Professional Innovation, combines Design Thinking principles into the planning of traditional Corporate Strategy, career development and advanced coaching methodologies.
Design is all about imagining a future scenario, bringing it to the present, using it to learn important lessons and then, after solid planning, acting. The entire process should be guided by empathy and the use of a prototype as a learning tool.
This was why the intervention of SDA Bocconi’s Master Division’s Head of Career Services Sabyne Moras and myself focused our workshops on an approach that we defined as “projective”. The idea is that students are able to link their future professional images to their projected career paths. To achieve this, students were taught how to assess, in advance and independently, the feasibility and credibility of their personal development prototypes projects. Using the Personal Branding Canvas they could learn to understand which elements of their profiles required further development to ensure they were going to be perceived as credible by future employers or clients, thus offering a solid Promise of Value.
The idea underlying this approach is that students carry out a kind of thought-experiment to help them understand whether a specific career direction will work. This is in effect a form of ‘reality-test’ that allows them to explore the feasibility of various career scenarios. Depending on feedback, they can then make appropriate adjustments to their projected career path. The main goal is that they take into account all potential networking opportunities, additional training possibilities, plus other actionable initiatives such as seeking out mentoring, and doing whatever else they need to attain their career goals.
Agile Personal Branding with the Personal Branding Canvas
As a visual thinking tool, the Personal Branding Canvas helps students learn how to link their prototype Personal Branding strategies to their future career goals. The prototypes can be refined once career goals come into sharper focus. The Canvas then becomes a tool for agility which allows career-minded individuals to manage complex career questions more effectively.
The Personal Branding Canvas also encourages such individuals to ask the first and perhaps most crucial question: What strategy do I need to pursue a career in a specific profession?
Using Design Thinking as a basis, work design concepts can be applied to the increasingly in-vogue career coaching field.
Personal Branding and design tools such as the Personal Branding Canvas enable our students to develop their ideas and then act in good time employing a practical planning approach which they can also apply later on in their careers. – Sabyne Moras – Head of Career Service, Master Division, SDA Bocconi.