You have just secured a job offer from a Fortune 500 company which is an industry leader with multinational operations. This could be one of the greatest moment of your life. Having gone through several rounds of fierce competition, you have finally beaten other competent contestants and won the offer. You cannot stop but keep visualizing the bright future ahead – stepping in your office with sea view in grade A commercial building in prime business district, hosting meetings and presenting your business proposals to 100+ audience, winning applause from board of directors, attending interviews by media for your business success. How rewarding the career path is to work for a MNC.
Have you ever imagined the scene above? Most of us do. Does this really happen on us? Most of us are not lucky enough. Is there a definite association between your own career success and your employer’s business success?
Firstly, we have to acknowledge the difference between the business environment of MNC with sizable operation versus SME or start up.
No denial that most MNCs are successful businesses which they have well-established business operation mechanism. Usually their brand names are well known in market. Having established for years, they would have better financial stability and more financial resources. Given the maturity of the business, they would offer a more structured career path to its staff.
Maturity in MNC can somehow be a downside for your career development. Since the business operation is already mature, every staff’s job scope is well-defined and limited to specific duties with less variety. Given every procedure is standardized, staffs would easily become products of the system and it is not easy to shine. Under a mature system there would be less new openings which limit the promotion opportunity. Competition for promotion would also be fierce. In addition, when staff become more replaceable, as a business there would be less resources allocated to staff retention, higher workload and less salary increment are often the result.
Starting a career in a SME/start up is another story. When your brand is not known by market and not trusted by your clients, business partners and vendors, it takes extra effort for you to achieve your role’s business objectives and it often come with more frustration. You have to tighten your belt and struggle for resources. Most importantly, you have to bet your career’s stability on the firm’s unproven financial stability.
Why would there be a growing trend that bright talents are giving up stable career in MNC and bet on start up (some of them are even taking huge pay cut)? The excitement and satisfaction working for a rapidly-expanding start up can hardly be found in MNC with mature operation. When you work for business with smaller scale, usually you will work on multi tasks with more diverse responsibility. With less hierarchy your ideas can be communicated with decision maker more easily and often with prompt response. When the business is growing fast, there will be more newly created openings within the firm and this means more vacant positions for promotion. You will encounter less competition for promotion with external candidates as management in start up usually prefers to grow the firm organically and promote internal staff who share the same belief with the business. Compared to sizeable firm with mature operation, you will climb up your career ladder more easily. It takes less years for you to get to the level where you are involved in the formulation of business strategy which is an exciting task compared to execution.
In short, career exposure offered by MNC and SME/start up are completely different. MNCs are usually good business but do not confuse the firm’s business success with your own career development. Career potential in start up can be explosive although it often comes with higher risks. Regardless of which path that you have chosen to take, being visionary is critical to making the right move.
This article is contributed by Mclaren Consultancy Limited.