The π (pi) Method for Growing Your Career
Traditionally, the professional evolution of a person is made up of a succession of well-defined steps: from junior to expert in a given domain.
But it seems that in the new economy things have changed and the new employers are asking that the candidates have a more complex array of skills and abilities while at the same time new careers appear each year to keep up with changing needs on the jobs market. On the other hand, sometimes it’s the employees who no longer feel comfortable with a career path that started after graduation and they begin to feel that they need something different.
One solution could be the double specialization
Of course we are not talking about two completely different fields such as medicine and software development but rather two complementary specializations within the same field, such as copywriting and social media. A secondary specialization can offer flexibility and a wider array of job opportunities.
Let’s take the example of a services sales person specialized in offline sales: what can they do during a crisis like the Convid-19 pandemic? In those times, no matter how good a sales person they are it will be impossible for them to meet their annual sales target because of the macro-economic context. But their communication and persuasion abilities, their patience and their knack for creating a rapport will undoubtedly help them steer their career towards a customer care or consultancy role.
Patrick Tay, a lawyer and member of Singapore Parliament is often talking about two methods for growing one’s career and acquiring knowledge in connected fields:
– The T method: specializing in a certain field and then adding more general, less specific knowledge in several other fields.
– The π (pi) method: specializing in parallel in two fields, acquiring a similar level of abilities and general knowledge of several other fields. This method allows a person to have more flexibility when it comes to adjusting to the swift changes occurring nowadays in our society.
In Singapore, Patrick Tay is the creator of a series of integrated government programs that promote the continuing education of adults who already have some relevant skills for the field where they would like to work in. For example, through the SkillsFuture program all Singapore citizens who are over 25 years old are entitled to a sum which allows them to access a new specialization that can be different from the field where they are currently employed. Thus, employees who were already past their specialist years in a certain field have (re)discovered the joy of a new beginning in a career where maybe they didn’t stand a chance in their youth. Also, this program was aimed at developing the human resource specifically for new job types and new positions now available on the market.
A lot of people think that they cannot do anything else except for what they already know, except for the things they already master or that they have mastered in the past. But studies show that actually the human mind is capable of learning or of adapting a lot more and a lot easier than we think it possible.
Therefore, it’s not that difficult to acquire a new specialization that is complementary to the field in which you are already an expert.
What we think of as unsurpassable is nothing more than the mental block that we ourselves create and our own projection of the things we can or cannot change.
A second specialization allows you to maybe get promoted to a new position at your current company or it can allow you to develop something you’ve always been passionate about. It doesn’t even have to be something completely different from what you are currently doing.
For example, one of my colleagues who is a graphic designer has started a front-end course which allows him to better understand what might be the technical limitations to implementing on a web platform what he is proposing from a visual perspective.
Another colleague, a graphic designer as well, has developed a passion for mountain trekking, landscapes and the hidden stories of beautiful landscapes. It was with a smile on my face that I recommended that he become a weekend mountain guide and it’s when he realized that such an experience might help him develop his public speaking abilities.