There’s a recurring story heard in interviews lately: “I’ve been working with a large service integrator / digital service agency for years, and I feel stuck. I’m still delivering small parts of large projects without ever getting the full picture of what a customer really needs. To enjoy the next phase of my career, I need to find a place where I’m not locked into one specialty, or worse, one project. As well as the chance to move up in the organization without waiting for someone else to move out.”
Of course, finding a company that supports this type of flexible career path is easier said than done.
It makes sense for large service integrators and agencies to have people with a classic “T-shaped” skill set. People with one key specialty and high-level knowledge of surrounding topics. The clearly defined roles make it easier to manage the org chart and, if there is a big shift in the market, these agencies have the scale to hire a new wave of people with the right T-shaped skills.
For an individual, however, being locked into a particular T-shape can be stagnating, with the risk of spending years solely focused on a specialty that becomes irrelevant in the rapidly changing digital space.
Beyond the risk, a T-shaped career path is simply boring for many people. Digital service is a field that attracts people who like to learn, and that curiosity often leads to a “pi-shaped” and eventually a “comb-shaped” skill set. There is a wide range of horizontal, high-level knowledge and multiple pockets.
Along with developing more marketable skills, comb-shaped learning can lead to unique and exciting career paths. A company that invests in cross-training individuals opens opportunities to put new skills to use, and truly supports the “fail fast and learn” mentality is a great career accelerator for this type of learner.
Here are 5 ways to spot if a company offers this type of career growth opportunity in the digital service space.
What is the Technology Evolution of the Company?
Is the organization helping customers move forward with digital, or are outdated technology projects the bread-and-butter of business? Is there a diversity of solutions offered, or are all customers pushed towards the newest, fanciest tools? How is the company preparing current teams for the next wave of innovation or technology shift?
When we started ramping up our commercetools business, a cloud-based headless platform approach wasn’t common enough for there to be direct experience with it on many resumes. Instead, we looked for people with solid fundamentals in common programming languages like Java and internally upskilled our teams. It meant that Mindcurv was able to be one of the first to market with modern commerce solutions and that individuals gained high-value skills and experience to level up their careers.
Mindcurv started 10 years ago by building e-commerce applications on Oracle ATG. Then we took on more SAP Hybris projects, and we’re now one of the leading service providers for commercetools and other MACH technologies (microservices, API, Cloud, headless). Along the way, we’ve helped many customers successfully make the move from on-premise data centers to on-demand computing platforms like AWS, Azure, and GCP.
Never done evolving, Mindcurv is now growing its expertise in areas like Salesforce implementation and data sciences to support our customers across the full digital experience journey.
Are Solutions Designed Holistically?
For people who are motivated by complex challenges, working at an agency where solutions are copy-and-pasted is going to get old quickly. It’s far more interesting, and far better for the customer when solutions are designed around each client’s strengths, constraints, and desired business outcomes.
At digital service agencies that take this holistic approach, everyone on the team is encouraged to have a big picture understanding of the project regardless of their role. Learnings are shared across domains and projects, giving people the opportunity to quickly gain industry knowledge, develop horizontal skills, and open up new career paths.
An organization that works holistically will be able to point to examples where different approaches were taken due to interesting requirements, like an existing technology stack or business model, and a variety of constraints, like a limited time to market window or a tight budget. They choose the technology to fit the use case, not the other way around.
Are There End-to-End Opportunities?
Agencies that start and end with implementation aren’t going to have the same priorities as service providers that help customers end-to-end. When your team is evolving and maintaining the platform, there’s more incentive to think about long-term outcomes and complex use cases.
This means more interesting challenges and also offers the chance to explore different areas of expertise.
At Mindcurv, we partner with clients from ideation through long-term platform evolution. In the past year, we’ve made acquisitions in the area of Salesforce implementations and support, high-end software development, multimedia design / UX offerings, commerce consultancy, and data sciences to expand our support – and career opportunities – across the entire digital spectrum.
Are “Global” Teams Truly Global?
With how common remote work is, there are still far too many companies with an outdated mindset that specific roles are locked to certain regions. Look at the diversity of roles across countries to check if there is ample opportunity to advance or if the organization is stuck in an old onshore/offshore model.
At Mindcurv, we believe in operating as “One Team”. We have projects where key roles are distributed across regions based on capability and skill-set. One of our Cloud platform implementations for a German customer was handled by an Infrastructure Architect based out of India, with Infrastructure developers distributed between Spain, Germany, and India and a Project Manager based out of Germany.
The right person can take on the right role from anywhere globally, creating teams with a unique blend of talent and culture that leads to highly creative solutions. Companies with landlocked org charts are missing out on a world of potential.
Do Customers Advocate for Career Growth?
I have seen that most customers are incredibly supportive of career growth and can even be the biggest enabler when transitioning to a new role. As long as there is transparency around the move.
Can the organization point to cases where people grew into a new role with a client? Was there a clear timeline of how and when responsibilities changed?
For example, one of Mindcurv’s first hires started as a functional tester but became more interested in the business side of things as he gained e-commerce experience. Well aware of his knowledge, his primary customer was happy for him to split his work on their account between testing and analysis, which, over time, led to a full-time business analyst position.
Time to take the next step
Mindcurv is looking for people to drive creative solutions across the digital landscape. If you are a continuous learner that doesn’t shy away from top-down strategy or bottom-up execution, one of Mindcurv’s open positions might be the perfect start to the next phase of your career.