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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Jennifer Rosen: In today’s world, we’re surrounded by opportunity. There are a multitude of job roles and career options available. There are also many approaches to achieving the career that’s best for you. Two of the most common approaches are the matrix and the ladder approach. The matrix approach is about having skill sets in different areas and bringing them together to cultivate a profile that is distinct to you. A lot of us have a variety of interests and we want to pursue them. And with the matrix approach, we can explore how to combine these interests into a role which is unique to us. The ladder approach is better suited for those of us who know exactly what career or job we want.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds We have our dream job or company in mind, so we’re willing to work our way up the ladder to get there. We met two professionals whose careers demonstrate these two approaches.

Skip to 1 minute and 7 seconds Anas Nader trained as a medical doctor, but then realised he also had a passion for how technology could transform his industry. He also had business skills that weren’t being utilised in his job. He decided to leave his intended career path to become an entrepreneur and founded digital health company, Patchwork.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds Anas Nader: In In that role, I have picked up the fact that one of the challenges that the hospital was facing is in staffing. At that point, I went back to my bosses in the hospital and I said, let’s build something together. I reached out to one of my really good colleagues who I went to medical school with here at Imperial College in London, and he ended up becoming my co-founder. So we thought, let’s go ahead and build something together in collaboration with the hospital, and that’s how it got me to Patchwork.

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 seconds I mean, I have invested many years in becoming a doctor. So trying to take time out of medicine and build a tech start-up was certainly a move that quite a lot of people questioned. So it’s about being comfortable with that uncertainty, being prepared to find the right opportunities and also hopefully surround yourself with people who have a very similar ambition. I think I’m restless by nature, and I’ve always been interested in quite a lot of different things. I’ve always loved tech. I love medicine. I love health care. I loved working with teams and learning from them.

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 seconds And that meant, basically, I always knew that I would have a portfolio career, not your typical 9 to 5 job on the same company, with the same role.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 seconds The way I manage my CV, in a way, is really focusing on the skills I’ve developed rather than the jobs and the tasks I’ve done. Most employers and most teams, what they care about is what you can do, not what you did. So, in many ways, I focus on my transferable skills, the universal ones. My two favourite ones would be public speaking and working in teams. These are the kind of skills that, no matter what you do, being really good at that will really help in your success.

Skip to 3 minutes and 35 seconds Jennifer: From an early stage, Steve Crabtree knew he wanted to work in television. He started off doing work experience for the BBC, put in the work, and proved his potential to make his way up the career ladder to become Executive Producer of BBC’s his flagship series, Horizon.

Skip to 4 minutes and 2 seconds Steve Crabtree: A friend had recommended me to be a runner for an indie, independent production company. I then went and had an interview, got that job straightaway, to be honest. Literally went in, had the interview, and started an hour later. I didn’t leave the office. And then did that for a few months. It took maybe six, eight weeks, which was amazing because that meant I had money so I could pay rent and start to get established. And it was after that then I got the call from the BBC from the Horizon team, which led me to eventually get a job back in the BBC in development.

Skip to 4 minutes and 54 seconds Luckily, in television, there is quite a clear ladder that you progress up through. You generally start as a runner or a junior researcher, then a researcher, then an assistant producer, then the producer, producer-director, in factual. I work in factual, our producers tend to be producer-directors. Then a series producer, then an executive producer. So that’s the kind of basic structure. And what you realise, or the advice I would give, is that at each stage of that ladder you need to become as good as you possibly can be. There is no point in leapfrogging.

Skip to 5 minutes and 40 seconds The ladder approach, for me and people like me, is useful because you can see where you’re going very clearly. And you can understand the responsibilities of the next job, and the one above it, and the one above that. So it’s really clear. The structure is really clear. You know exactly what you have to do on the next job and exactly what you have to do on the job above that.

Skip to 6 minutes and 5 seconds So if you’re ambitious and you like to work in that sort of a far clearer structure - I mean, some people might say that’s boring and that you can move around and do - for me, I like that kind of process, which is useful because it gives you a set of things to aim for and a set of criteria that you know you have to hit to make the next rung of the ladder.

Skip to 6 minutes and 39 seconds The three big ideas that you need to progress through the ladder is you need to go into any interview with passion and enthusiasm. You need to prepare for that interview by doing your homework, and you need to bring ideas to the table.

Skip to 6 minutes and 58 seconds Jennifer: These are just two of many possible career paths and approaches available. Hearing people’s stories who have a career you’re interested in is an excellent way to learn and gain insight on what you can do and how you can do it. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong approach when it comes to your career, and you can always change your approach as you go. You need to experiment and find what authentically works best for you.

How others have found their ideal job

When it comes to deciding what type of job you want for yourself and the best possible way to get there, there are many career paths available.

Some individuals have their eye on a specific role; others have a variety of interests they want to explore; some are looking for a career change. Two of the most common career paths are the matrix approach and the ladder approach.

In this video, you’ll hear from Anas Nader, CEO of Patchwork Health, a healthcare staffing and resource management company, and Steve Crabtree, Executive Producer at BBC Studios. Both have taken different but successful approaches to their careers. Anas talks about his experience in a matrix career, and Steve talks about the ladder approach which led him to working as the Executive Producer of BBC Horizon.

The careers of Anas and Steve reflect two paths that may resonate with your own aspirations. Meeting with people who have a career you’re interested in is an excellent way to learn and gain insight on what you can do and how you can do it. You can learn from and model the paths of those you admire.

What do you think?

After watching the video, think about the following questions:

  • Did you identify with either of the two speakers when they spoke about their career paths?
  • Do you aspire to follow a similar path to them?
  • What other career paths have you heard about that inspire you?

Share and discuss your responses with other learners in the Comments section.

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This video is from the free online course:

Essential Skills for Your Career Development

University of Leeds