Top 3 Tips for becoming executive ready

Kevin Patterson, Senior Executive VP, Technology and Operations, CIBC, and Executive Sponsor of CIBC’s Gender Action Committee | Toronto | March 29, 2016

pattersonWe all know that as you progress in seniority within an organization, there are fewer jobs available at the top. There are steps you can take to best position yourself for success, including the following three practical tips:

1. Look for opportunities to stand out from the crowd

Raise your hand for line jobs and tough, risky assignments. These are great opportunities to showcase your leadership capabilities. At this level, you have to truly distinguish yourself from your peers, so make sure your accomplishments are known. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn.

2. Take advantage of regular, meaningful performance reviews

Performance reviews are the best time to get coaching and to develop specific individual development plans to secure new skills. This could include volunteer opportunities such as leading a committee within your organization (e.g. United Way), or sitting on a not-for-profit board. Stick to your plan and put any new learning into practice as soon as possible. Make sure your manager knows what your short and long-term goals are so they are considered during talent management and succession planning.

3. Actively seek out mentors and sponsors in leadership positions who are committed to gender diversity

Learn from them. Ask for their help. Talk candidly about challenges you are facing and how you intend to solve them. Seek their feedback. Leverage their expertise to learn more about the business, or to engage in conversation about unconscious bias. Remember that they walked in your shoes before they became an executive, and have lots of insight to share. And don’t forget to make sure your mentor/sponsor is aware of your successes, so they can spread the word as well.

Realizing your goal of attaining an executive level position is possible. It all starts with believing in yourself and pursuing opportunities to make it happen.

Kevin Patterson is responsible for the technology and operations required to run CIBC’s businesses worldwide and support excellent client experience, as well as providing specialized service and advice to business partners. He graduated from McMaster with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1984, and added a McMaster MBA in 1990. 

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