article banner
From Where We Sit

Have you dug enough?

Nelson Dinio

#Millennials. The trending topic on career evolution and workplace innovation focuses on the generation that will soon be the majority of the global workforce. Several articles have been published on how millennials are vastly different from Generation X and baby boomers. Some tag them as narcissistic, lazy and risk-averse, while others view them as optimistic, goal-oriented and purpose-driven. They grew up in an environment where technology has been revolutionary, communication has been easier, and everything is just one click away. Cell phones are attached to them like umbilical cords and the internet has become a lifeline.

With the fast-paced environment in which they live, millennials tend to have a shorter span of patience toward achieving their desired success in life. After two to five years of working, millennials begin spending too much time contemplating on their life status. How should they live their lives? Why do their colleagues seem much more successful? Even with their degrees and professional licenses, why do they still earn a meager income? Is their current job really what they want to do for the rest of their lives?

As a result of the time they spend mulling over such questions, millennials sometimes get known for being impatient job hoppers. They have one foot outside the office door, ready to leave when good opportunities come or things get too tedious or too demanding at work.

A majority of my staff are millennials. Though there are differences in perspective, habits, working style and priorities, they all appear to share the same goal: to have a successful career. However, after being asked, they seem unsure of how to achieve such goals. While it is true that there is no single blueprint for success, one must know how to build his or own career.

Here’s my take on career-building. 

The initial questions you should ask yourself are: What do you want with your career? What do you want to achieve in life?

Normally, the age of entry-level employees ranges from 20 to 25. With the retirement age set at 60 under the law, an employee has 35 to 40 years to build his or her career and decide up to which level he or she wants to reach. A career ladder generally has six levels: first, the associates, followed by supervisors, then first-line management, middle management, senior management, and at the highest level is the top management. Now, up to what level of the career ladder do you want to climb and are willing to work for? 

Most of the millennials I have worked with aspired to reach at least the senior management level. However, this does not seem to be an easy task. How would it be possible? With the long line of employees waiting for promotion and the years they have spent in their work, how can one compete?

There is no definite answer for this but, in my perspective, one’s foundation plays a vital role in career-building.

Building a career is like building a physical structure, be it a simple bungalow, a medium-rise building, or even a skyscraper. Your career is the physical structure that you want to create and, like all physical structures, a structural foundation is established at the very beginning. The type of foundation differs depending on the type of structure you want to build. The higher the structure, the deeper one must dig for establishing the foundation to ensure that the foundation is able to support the weight and size of the structure. Imagine wanting to construct a 15-story building, but establishing a foundation only enough to support a bungalow. With such a weak foundation, the building is expected to collapse and fall apart.

As such, the foundation depth of the 15-story building will definitely be deeper than those made for smaller houses. On the other hand, if you have initially established a foundation meant for a high-rise condominium but then settled to build only a single-detached house, wouldn’t all that time and money you spent on digging for that foundation become a waste?

Career-wise, if you want to reach a certain level on the career ladder, assess your early years to determine whether you have obtained and established a strong foundation to support your career goal. The foundation is not only determined by the number of years you’ve spent working, but more importantly, the skills and experience you have acquired, the expertise you have gained, and your ability to cope with changes.

The skills required for each career level varies. Outstanding technical skills will leave a good impression on your bosses when you are at the associate level, but as you climb up the career ladder, you will soon realize that there are other skills needed, such as leadership and management skills. Your ability to effectively communicate and make decisions is also a valuable set of competencies that will serve your journey up the ladder as well.

These skills can be further developed as you learn to accept greater responsibilities, welcome new challenges, and step out of your comfort zone. This may include expansion of your knowledge through exposure to a wide range of industries. It is good to gain mastery in one field, but developing your expertise in various types of industries will let you familiarize yourself with several diverse business practices and provide information on how these industries will affect one another, thereby aiding you in making informed and reasonable decisions. Thus, when trying to build a stronger foundation, it is important that what you do today enables you to learn new things and strengthen your individual capabilities for the future.

Nonetheless, knowing where you want to go in the first place already allows you to consider the possible options to arrive at your goal and evaluate whether what you have now is sufficient to reach the journey’s end.

With your target in mind and with options being laid out in front of you, take the time to reflect on this: “Have I already dug enough?”

Nelson J. Dinio is deputy head of Audit & Assurance, and partner-in-charge of P&A Calabarzon Operations. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and more than 850 staff members. For your comments, please email or For more information about P&A Grant Thornton, visit our website


As published in The Manila Times, dated 08 November 2017