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I am not changing the world … yet.

Blog by Laurent Verbraken, Management Trainee at ORMIT

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By: Laurent Verbraken
Management Trainee at ORMIT
Date:  30 July 2015

“Let’s do this!”

You just graduated from university or college and you think: “Let’s do this! Let’s do business, make big money and go straight to the top! The sky is the limit! I am going to change the world. I am enthusiastic, willing to learn, flexible, competent …” Well, guess what, every young graduate thinks that. You are not special. I can assure you, I was like that too (and still am a bit). I finished my studies thinking I was going to be the next Richard Branson. It turned out I wasn’t … yet.

The business world is quite a jungle. I entered it with a fresh naivety that quickly turned into practical realism. You can’t change the world in one day. It is a progressive elaboration. Progressive because it goes step-by-step. Elaboration because standing still is moving backwards. You will surely encounter issues and problems. But as Rocky Balboa said it perfectly in Rocky IV: “It doesn’t matter how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward.” Your work or career will have ups and downs. It will never go as planned and as smooth as you had hoped.

That is something I learned quite quickly after joining ORMIT. I started one year ago with the will and energy to conquer the world. As it turned out, conquering the world doesn’t happen overnight. You first have to learn some things. Let me share with you my personal development journey.

Step 1: get to know myself

On my first day, I got my first lesson: “how can you manage others if you can’t manage yourself?” Before starting as a big shot in the corporate world, you have to know who you are, what you can do (and what you can’t) and what path you want to build in your career. I started by exploring my competences, my personality, my blind-spots, my behavior in a team … I started with introspection.

Step 2: acquire on-the-job experience

I gained my first on-the-job experience at BNP Paribas Fortis in the Digital Change Department. I was challenged, got responsibilities and was mentored during my assignment. This allowed me to acquire some practical experience. I quickly learned to run up against walls and fall flat on the ground face first. OUCH! A huge organisation isn’t digitalised on short term just as Rome wasn’t built in one day either. It is a long process that requires little adaptations, one at a time. My mentor gave me the needed space and confidence to fail and learn from failure. On many occasions I didn’t attain my objectives and was blocked by procedures, legal issues, resistance for change or other reasons. This made no sense to me at first. I asked myself: “why is everybody resistant to change and why do they question every little detail?” Early on in the project, I got an important message from my mentor: “Don’t try to tear down walls but find an alternative to navigate past them.”

Step 3: strive for continuous improvement

Keep learning. Keep developing. Try to still that uncontrollable hunger for personal development. The variety of trainings have given me numerous new insights on myself, team dynamics, communication skills and many other aspects of management. These trainings gave me the perfect opportunity to broaden my knowledge on becoming future leader. And I am not alone in this. I regularly exchange my experiences and thoughts with peers to discuss alternative mind sets and points of view.

After one year on the job market, I can say that I already learned a lot and still have a lot to discover. The path of personal development is never-ending and I walk it every day to be able to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.