By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

A traveler rarely goes on a journey without a destination in mind.

But in developing our careers, we can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking we don’t need a vision to follow.

When you know where you want to go, you can chart a course for how to get there. The journey will present some challenges, but you’ll have an easier time staying on course if you have a plan.

As you look to develop your executive career, here are six tips that will help you reach your goals. 

  1. Determine How You Want To Be Known

Set goals and build your technical expertise. There are many types of executives. Chief Financial Officer,

EVP Supply Chain, Managing Director of Risk Management, … the list goes on.  You need to gain experience in areas that are pertinent to the position you want to land. Employers should be able to look at your resume and see that you’ve developed proficiency in relevant disciplines.  Build your reputation as the go-to person in your field. 

  1. Build Your Connections

Working your way up to an executive role can take time. Find the opportunities along the way.

If you want to become influential, you must develop connections. Your network can open doors for you. Be humble, ask questions, and learn from others.  I believe in a give before you get mind set.  While building your connections – always think of it as a two-way street so you are building a sincere and solid relationship.

  1. Follow Your Passion

If you were to talk to successful executives, many would tell you to “find your passion”.

If you work at something you love, you’re more likely to succeed. You’re more likely to push through the challenges and stick with the process. Additionally, you’ll put in the effort and study required to succeed, because it’s something you enjoy doing. Finding your passion may not be easy, but it will prove helpful for you on your path towards achievement. You’re going to be spending 40+ hours per week at your job – you should be doing something you love. 

  1. Go Above & Beyond

Some only do what’s required of them. To be an executive, you need to be willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrate your value. How can you exceed expectations? How can you bring more value to a project? What can you do to stand out from the crowd? 

  1. Move Towards Challenges

Instead of doing what’s easy or expected, dare to take on difficult assignments. Executives are problem-solvers. The only way to build your problem-solving skills is with practical experience. Jump in when an opportunity comes up. If you can demonstrate that you can create solutions where none previously existed, others will begin to trust you and see you as a leader. 

  1. Remain On A Path Of Growth

Keep learning. This is something we all know we should do, but a reminder never hurt anyone. Study the industry you are in. Learn about your internal and external customer. And, if you have the opportunity, learn about businesses you know nothing about or are tangential. This can offer inspiration for worthwhile changes that could be made in your company. Commit to being a lifelong student. This will increase your value as an individual. 


Your career is important, and it must be managed if you have big goals in mind. Becoming a trusted and inspirational executive will require work on your part. The rewards can can make a difference to you and so many others within your sphere and beyond.

Let’s get to work!


If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or [email protected]