Career Development: Whose Company Do You Belong To?

February 26, 2018 | Edinrin Rae Obasare, MD
Career Development

Looking back through history, some people were traditionally born into a certain vocation. For instance, one may have been a scholar, peasant, blacksmith, farmer, merchant, trader or artisan. Then again, it may have been hard to identify the trade of extraordinary professionals like Michelangelo, Mozart and Napoleon. Who did they work for? What was their job description? 

I feel privileged to be part of the fantastic field of cardiology, where we are given the tremendous opportunity to care for those who suffer from cardiovascular diseases with frequent ground-breaking discoveries and innovations. We are surrounded with a wealth of new knowledge, which has the potential to improve the lives of patients. In addition, it is incredible to be part of an organization like the ACC, whose mission is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. It is also incredible to collaborate towards their vision of a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. 

In a time of such unparalleled opportunities in cardiology, top organizations like the ACC provide us with tools to not only thrive but also stay connected and fruitful as we progress through our careers. However, with this also comes the personal responsibility to maintain our own self-management. Peter Drucker, fondly known by some as “the founder of modern management”, describes this as “being our own chief executive officer.” In other words, as he professes, “companies today aren’t managing their knowledge workers’ careers,” instead as our own personal CEOs, “we carve out our place in the work world and know when to change course.”

So where do we start? Tom Peters, PhD, is a Stanford business school graduate in organizational behavior, and author of the popular book, In Search of Excellence. He explains that, “you are not defined by your job title or confined by your job description.” He further encourages us to probe, “What do we do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value?” outside our ‘job descriptions.’

To be more specific, one could ask, “How do I stand out and prosper in this rapidly changing era of cardiovascular diseases?” Answers might include:

• “I am good at academic activity,” maybe research or teaching.
• “I see myself more in a private practice kind of setting,” or maybe a hybrid of both private and academia.
• “I think I would work better in a practice with close industry ties”
• “I have high clinical competence”
• “I get the whole business of medicine thing. It fits well with my skillsets”

There are a plethora of variations to this introspective process. Regardless, there are some key components to look at, such as:

• What makes me different?
• What are my strengths and weaknesses?
• What value do I deliver?
• What are my skillsets?
• How does my upbringing help me where I am now and in my future career?
• What is my personality type, and of those around me?
• What am I passionate about?

In his landmark piece, The Brand Called You, Tom Peters, PhD, asks, “How do you distinguish yourself from all the other smart people with well polished resumes?” He continues, “Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself – you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.”

Of course, cardiology careers have to do with the team we surround ourselves with. Nevertheless, I believe the responsibility we take for the direction of this path is equally or more important. We are extremely fortunate to be in the wonderful field of cardiology and to belong to an amazing community. Specifically, the ACC family provides its members with all the resources to support us throughout our anticipated long and prosperous careers. Keep this in mind: let us continue working conscientiously towards making a significant impact in eradicating cardiovascular disease both as our own self-managers, and as part of our larger company of cardiology colleagues.

This article was authored by Edinrin Rae Obasare, MD, Fellow in Training (FIT) at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.