From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

May 2013
« Apr   Jun »
Wise Skill. Mentors. Difference between coaches, teachers and mentors.
Filed under: Position Searching, Mentoring, First Year on Job, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 8:49 am

Being in the positions of having been taught,
coached, mentored and actively teaching,
coaching and mentoring, the Accelerators
Blog in WSJ grabbed my attention.

=While an AWIS presentation spells out some of the
differences out for us, let me offer my two cents–

Sponsoradvocates for us and seeks out positive
for our personal and professional growth.
They can introduce us to key centers of knowledge,
action or influence
Also, they suggest steps for us to grow and either
deepen or broaden our exposure.
One person in my early career suggested applying
for White House Fellowship.  While it was not to
be, the thought, process and mentioning stayed with

Mentor:  in addition to the dictionary definition (of
a trusted adviser), they engage in a two-way
collaboration and offer clear-sighted
, guidance and perspective in challenges,
strategic thinking and questions to consider
I like Kate Mitchell’s “composite mentor” concept
as both formal and informal relationships, since
no one person usually has the depth and breadth.
Key to a mentoring relationship is strong,
trusted communication

Ben Huh indicates he finds mentors who offer
“thought processes and view of the world situation”
which come through story telling.

I openly seek and provide signals to colleagues
where each of us considers ourselves in a network.
It is more than that.  We leave a lasting impression
on each other, which I sense mentors should do.

Coach:  whereas mentoring is often described as
relationship based, coaching seeks to advise and
improve skills and attitudes
.  Thus it is said while
mentoring is development driven with an agenda,
coaching is performance driven with goals.
It is common that coaches learn from a self-
assessment or helps assess a current situation
and goals to define gaps which to train or inform.
Perhaps, this is where we see coaching being
redefined as a process and a “program” in some

Teaching:  delivering knowledge and practical
experiences to help students discover, connect,
and “rewire their consciences” to be able to use and

The subject matter is less relevant than developing
the discovery and connection modes.
However, if you do not use it, you lose it.

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Undergraduate Realities. Important steps before graduation.
Filed under: Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Post-docs, Undergraduate majors
Posted by: site admin @ 6:05 pm

I believe it was on the McKinsey Insights and Publications
site where the top three things recent graduates say
about working.  Briefly, they are:
(1) they feel they are over-qualified for the work they
interview for and eventually accept.  Many of the
roles and responsibilities are done by non-college
graduates and do not need what colleges offer and
(2) they feel they are unprepared for the discipline,
pleasant customer interactions expectations, and
the need to follow someone else’s orders to do things.
(3) many feel as a result they would choose to major
in something else
or attend a different institution.

These same people for the most part do not use
the career services function
of the school (>60%)
and do not use alumni networks of the school or
department (>70%). 

There are five areas the recent hires’ employers
assess their new graduating hires–
 - working in a team             ~60% effective
 - oral communication
       spoken                            ~50% effective
       listening                          lower
 - training in discipline         ~50% effective
 - written communication     ~45% effective
 - problem solving skills       ~45% effective
       often taking short-cuts

What it calls attention to for undergraduates is to:
1.  seek and accept coop jobs, internships and externships.
Get broad exposures in different kinds of positions.
2.  understand that automation is happening in every
field for good business reasons.  Learn about working
with computers
.  Learn about their strengths and weaknesses.
3.  seek a wide range of people who are mentors, teachers
and listen to their stories.  Learn from them
and ask them to be mentors and part of your network,
whether in or not in
4.  despite computers, decision-making and judgment
is a human capacity
.  Learn how people acquire these
5.  learn about career services and school networks.
Attend and participate in events to learn soft skills.

Mid-career Mentoring and Resumes
Filed under: Mentoring, Leadership, Mature professionals
Posted by: site admin @ 9:17 am

A number of years ago, I enjoyed a distance learning course
I attended that Karol Pelc delivered in NTU on Management
of Technology.  Many areas were interesting.  One in particular
was technological generations, S-shaped curves and technology
development strategies.

These areas can parallel our careers in research, business
and teaching.  Atul Gawande wrote a compelling article in the
New Yorker recently describing how athletes and musicians
have personal coaches, why shouldn’t surgeons?  In my mind,
why shouldn’t scientists, engineers, professors and professionals?

Gawande wrote: “As I went along, I compared my results against national
data, and I began beating the averages.  My rates of complications
moved steadily lower…  And then, a couple of years ago, they didn’t.
It started to seem that the only direction things could go from here
was the wrong one.

Maybe this is what happens when you turn 45.  Surgery is, at least,
a relatively late-peaking career… Jobs that involve the complexities
of people or nature seem to take longer to master.  S&P 500 CEO,
52, geologists, 54;  Surgeons, requiring stamina and judgment,
somewhere between.”

Gawande talked about invoking coaches, just like other professionals,
and provided some real life examples of how attention to some
little things that an objective expert observer might point out.

We see many coaches for executives, for golf, for singing, for
musicians…Some are most helpful.  Some provide standard responses,
that may not be helpful.  Some inspire alternative ways of doing
things.  Even experts have room for improvement.

We have not touched on senior level public relations documents.
There is a need to present a perspective.  At the higher levels, terms
like branding, leadership, staffing and application of resources
seem pertinent.

We might think of a CTO position as a particular example of
a position.  Jennifer Hay offered a candid comparison of
CIO and CTO roles and responsibilities.  Notice the difference
between the more operational and the more strategic.

This falls under the term “branding” that is common in business
resume literature.  More on target, it refers to the content of
the document using specific keywords in context that relates
a reputation for leadership providing:
   company growth strategy overcoming obstacles
   system wide implementation that drives results
   providing a strategic, if not a longer-range view.

In some circles the CTO is the right hand person in technology
focused organizations, where a CFO is more business or
transaction based organizations.  The metrics for CTO needs
to be expressed in senior level terms as Laura Smith-

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Challenges in Starting a new position. Trust in leaving, trust in beginning
Filed under: First Year on Job, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 8:22 am

In professional circles, we build trust by maintaining
confidences, acting cooperatively, over-communicating
and exceeding expectations.

Transitions, I believe, provide situations where trust
is challenged.  Leaving one place or field and beginning
in another.

One young professional sought advice on when and
what to say to his group and adviser when leaving.  My
suggestion is that it is important to reflect on the positive
experiences building bridges and extending a helping hand.
It is less what we say and more how we make people
feel that will be remembered

Maintain confidences and over-communicate.

Do it in person.  If not in person, at least via phone or
Skype, for these seem more genuine and substantial than
a text or an email.  We are not leaving, in most cases, to
go to another place but to continue on our professional
career journey.  It is not the destination but the
process that is motivating and satisfying.  Not all moves
are successful, we need to factor in.  Our next move is
likely not to be our last.

Do it as a single task.  We can feel slighted or offering a
slight if we are multi-tasking when we offer farewells.

Jack Welch spoke about one of the transitions professionals
face when starting out is understanding that A-plus performance
is different than the student behavior of meeting the teacher’s
expectations of supplying correct answers to questions and high
scores on tests.

An A-plus in business enterprises involves exceeding expectations,
enhancing your bosses decisions and position, improving the
effectiveness of your team and strengthening your company’s
competitive position.

Act cooperatively and exceed expectations.

Go beyond your assignment, after clarifying expectations. 
Beware that personal ambitions can be misinterpreted by peers
and teammates.  This can sometimes be the price of excellence.
So find ways to act cooperatively.

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Interviewing. Case Study approach to demonstrating problem solving skills
Filed under: Interviewing, Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 3:59 pm

There were two newer types of interviews that the
young professionals liked in our class this year.
The first was virtual video interviews. 2  The second
was case study interviews.

It was interesting to observe two people deal with the
first case study case.  We tried to build up the anxiety
during the day for them asking the class if we should
give them the problem or wait, just to get them thinking
about it.

Then, with a few minutes to go before actually having them
work on it, I gave them the problem in advance.  The first thing
they both did was pull out their cellular devices and search for
an answer…..

We stopped them ‘dead in their tracks’ and confiscated the cells.
In fact, if they had done this in an actual case study interview,
they would have been removed from further consideration.

Then, we asked them to go to the front of the class and
solve the problem.  One took an engineering approach,
diagramming the problem, estimating appropriate dimensions,
and writing out some of the mathematical relations they might
need.  The second person wanted to quit on the spot.  This was not
what he expected, he had not prepared.  This is where the corrective
action learning began in the class… a ‘teachable moment.’

Tips for case study interviews
 What can go wrong in a case study interview
How you will be evaluated and preparation

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Thinking. Analogies in decisions, creativity and problem solving
Filed under: Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 3:02 pm

It is important to share a remarkable book, “Surfaces
and Essences:  Analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking
by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander, Basic
Books, 2013.

Why is it important?  Because I believe if we knew how
important Analogies are and how they can be used, it
can help us make better decisions, be more creative
and solve different problems
we face.  Going out on
a limb?  Try it, for I believe Hofstadter and Sanders
have something for each of us to learn in their many-paged,
but well worded, exploration of the human brains’ and
human communications’ use of analogy.

“Without lifting a finger, we can be touched by a kind
gesture” or “without perking up one’s ears whatsoever, one
can declare that an idea sounds on target” are common
verbal analogies.  In fact, the authors claim analogies
are not only verbal, but also underlie all major decisions.
Rather than doing a logical sorting and numerical
weighting of factors, what we all likely do is draw on one
or more analogies in our memory in finally making an
important decision.

When one needs to decide on a job offer, one thinks it
over comparing similar personal situations.  If no situations
come to mind, one more often than not asks the
perspectives of someone we trust.

Often things are observed and not quite well understood.
Further examination and thinking finds conceptual dilemmas
which contradicts or is not predicted by current understanding.
In mathematics, geometrical visualization helps, in physics
physical models and new dimensions help, in chemistry
creating representations like 3-d structures helps.  These are
all analogies, both verbal and visual or representative.

Much of the last couple hundred pages is taken up with how
Einstein perceived the world around him as full of hidden
analogies– particles as waves, light as particles and
the interconversion of mass and energy.  See also 3  .

Amazing things, we have come to learn, result when we do
out-of-the-box thinking…analogies.   The very essence of an
analogy is that it maps some mental structure on to another
mental structure.  Even verbalizing a problem in different terms
can jump start novel thinking to solve a problem.  The authors
refer to “frame blending” [blending of situations], explanatory
analogies, and interesting translation and transculturalization
approaches that open up new approaches that work better.

The authors also point out that analogy making is one
reason humans still have an advantage over computers,
despite the computer’s speed and precision on known

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Recent Graduate Consultation: Is this job right, Why am I not getting offers
Filed under: Interviewing, Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Legal matters
Posted by: site admin @ 2:31 pm

Had an interesting conversation recently with a very strong
technology graduate where in essence he asked two questions.

1.  What else should I do for this company that I have
interviewed for?

The company is an established technical consulting
firm looking to add two new technical experts in areas of
her strengths.  Thank you notes and decision timelines are
sent and set.
–> don’t stop interviewing and the job search.
What counts is that you really like the opportunity, know how
to respond to a positive offer and follow through in a business-like
–> do your due diligence on the consulting firm.  Find out how
satisfied previous clients are.  Who are the firms major competitors
in its industry?   what are they doing — are they hiring?  Get annual
Treat the potential employer as a possible future investment and learn
how well they are doing in the marketplace.
–> know your next steps when an offer comes.
(1)call to tell you have received the offer, thank them and indicate it is
generous and attractive and you are considering it seriously.
(2)further write to confirm all the details
(3)Simultaneously, consult with family and mentors on the offer, salary,
benefits, responsibilities, risks and compare to comparable offers
(4)does it meet your standards that you should invest your time there,
your family’s growth and your career management plan
(5)determine if items need to be negotiated (remember only after
receiving a written offer) and practice with a career consultant
(6)negotiate in a win-win strategy;  confirm in writing when final
(7)write acceptance letter with starting date and plan for your first day

2.  Why am I not getting offers in earlier interviews?
She described getting several screening interviews.  We spoke in our
teleconference about Amy Cuddy’s “confidence posing“, the
importance of nonverbals, initial impressions (smiling, handshake,
eye to eye contact) in interviews and story-telling providing her
candidacy with a “spark” displaying confidence and a can-do attitude.

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Trends in Technical Careers. 7. Interdisciplinary areas for American manufacturing revival
Filed under: Mature professionals, Observ. Trends, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 4:41 pm

Federally funded research is dead-end financing to business,
but the source of training, novel ideas and innovation to meet
significant goals more than a quarter into the future.

WSJ reported three initiativeslink
 - equipment that shares information over networks  1 
 - light weight metals with superior properties
    ORNL  2 
 - ZnO and GaN semiconductor materials
     next generation display technology  3  4 
all modeled after Germany’s subsidized institutes.

1 comment
Watch-outs 43. Decision-Making, Using Social Media and Emotional Intelligence in Business
Filed under: Position Searching, Job Offer (Situations), Mentoring, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 11:33 am

Before we get to three items, Al Sklover shared
some amazing, in-the-moment employee benefits
that firms offer, in place of real pensions…

In the same vein, we link to highlights of an
article on Daniel McFadden about consumer choice,
things that affect our decision making process.
A second link relates to ideas on how scientists
and engineers participate in social media.  While
we are for the most part scientists and engineers,
it is interesting to learn what drives and divides
business school talent assessment–
emotional quotient.

SOURCE:  The Economist, “Free exchange“,
4-27-13, p.72
Mcfadden overlaid neuroscience and psychology on
economics in relaying a conclusion that our preferences
are “fluid.”  He cited:
-  mundane things are valued more highly when we
think of them as “our own.”  Think: stocks we hold whose
price has dropped, insurance policy deductibles [premiums
for lower deductibles], even our clothes that we own.
-  memory and experience of an event are dominated
by how we feel at its peak and near the perceived end.
-  order in the presentation of alternate choices and what
happens right before the choice exhibit strong influences. 
Think:  social networks, online habits
-  more choices is not always good.

A file-laden, open access article on how scientists
are evolving in their use of online resources. 
A nice status report in a related, interdisciplinary and
international field in which many of us participate.
Thanks to Linkedin .

SOURCE:  M. Korn, WSJ 5-2-13 p. B1
It is interesting to track how business schools are
adapting to hiring practices in their industries.  They
seem to be adapting assessments of personal
and emotional competencies based on scoring
competency models.

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Chemical Enterprise Growth Predictions.
Filed under: Position Searching, Mature professionals, Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 10:47 am

The art of predicting the future convincingly is being
challenged by a realm of five trends Douglas Rushkoff
crystallizes from the intersection of
handheld devices
                          (portable information in the moment vs.
                           story line and trends),
shortened icon-loaded messaging
                           (texting, IM  vs. narrative with detail,
                            subtelty, and nuance),
how we view time
                            (I am always “too busy”; helter-skelter
                            what is next? vs. linear clock based ),
dealing with our identity and completing tasks
                             (focused attention vs. multi-tasking).
These trends in his book “Present Shock” are in contrast to
what this blog entry notes.

Building on an earlier entry on Peter Diamondis’s
technology trends and an era of abundance, Robert
Stevenson has put forward the notion that the business
horizon for the chemical enterprise is bright
clear-skied.  Sure, there are problems but the story he
tells of a bright future based on raw material supplies
and the technical innovation that brought it about should
give hope internationally.

The reason Rushkoff and Stevenson seem to be opposed
is that Stevenson’s long term view deals with a narrative
with many chapters with focus on few, highly important
tasks where Rushkoff’s view of media and the attention it
divides us into is on the present, multi-tasking where
everything is important and a dilution of effort, especially
on hard, long term goals.

So, despite where the collapse of narrative and living
in the moment is taking us, I believe there is a positive
future that depends on recognizing common goals,
prioritizing efforts to solve problems which are sure
to come up.
Stevenson issues:
- environmental impact of combustion and resource
recovery (water, especially)
- managing electricity generation with evolving use
- developing technology to recover, transport, and
handle wastes (improve fracking, scrubber and
use sustainable concepts)

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