How to gain experience as a top manager without being one

senior executive director

One of the biggest misconceptions about how you’re going to develop your senior management skills is climbing the corporate ladder. Climbing the corporate ladder is one of the most inefficient and time-consuming ways to acquire the skills of a senior executive. It’s a long way, and it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. Even if you are in the process of pursuing an MBA degree or have recently completed it, it is unlikely that you will become a senior executive immediately after graduating from business school. This is even more applicable if you’ve just completed your undergraduate degree, and is likely to be even more powerful if you’re younger.

Thus, the question arises, How can I gain senior leadership experience without being one? Believe it or not, a few hours of volunteer work a week can take you into the stratosphere when it comes to developing the connections and skills to become a CEO under 30.

Many of the ideas I will present below are based on Brian Tracy’s excellent book called The Luck Factor. I’m going to use two organizations of personal interest to describe in detail how anyone can gain senior management experience in just a few short months.

Malibu City Chamber of Commerce

As a recent graduate of the MBA program at Pepperdine University, I realized a bit late that the city of Malibu is one of the most underutilized resources that Pepperdine MBA students have access to. The city of Malibu is extremely unique in that the members of the community tend to be very wealthy and highly influential in the Los Angeles area.

In The Luck Factor, Brian Tracy talks about how he volunteered for the Chamber of Commerce, ended up serving on committees, and became extremely connected to a lot of people who went on to propel him further in his career. One of the most interesting facts he mentioned, and many career experts will tell you, is that every time your network of contacts doubles, your income will double. It is also a fast track to becoming a top executive.

Let’s go back to the city of Malibu and see how this can be applied.

There are a number of committees within the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. Below I have listed only two of these committees. What is important to note about these committees is that they are mostly staffed by people who are volunteers. Whatever city you live in, there is never an excess of qualified volunteers.

By taking on a leadership role, you will not only gain significant leadership experience, but also connect with influential members of the community in record time. It would take three times as long to create the same traction when climbing the corporate ladder. Try walking into your CEO’s office and saying that you want to be the company’s vice president for a few weeks.

Growth and business development


When: 2nd Friday of every month at 13:00
Where: House of Representatives
MYP (Young Malibu Professionals) members help promote and provide opportunities for Chamber members to grow their businesses. From member networking to business building workshops, MBS members bring new and innovative ideas to members of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce.

* Business Development Seminars
* Business round tables (various meeting schedules) MIXERS
* Mixers Malibu Sunset ‘After Hour’
* Networking meals in Malibu
* Xchange Networking Breakfasts – (There will be speakers who will talk about community connections. For example, the fire department, the sheriff, the city of Malibu, government representatives.

Event planning:

Organizes and implements special events and programs such as the Malibu Arts Festival, Malibu Wine Tasting, Malibu Pier Party, Golf Tournament and more. This team promotes and coordinates such events, working with other business people to support the fundraising and networking efforts of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce.
What: Malibu Arts Festival
CO-CHAIR: Heidi Bernard
When: every Wednesday at 9:00 (except Wednesday 4th)

Where: Malibu House of Representatives

Surfride Foundation

Another example that I want to use for the purposes of this study is the Surfrider Foundation. My own interest in the Surfrider Foundation stems from the fact that the ocean is my second home. In fact, I have probably spent more time there than I have in my actual home in the last 6 months.

At the same time, the Foundation provides a number of opportunities for participation. While you can start in an entry-level position, with just a few hours a week dedicated to the organization, you can quickly move up to a senior management position. Unlike the corporate ladder, you are not competing with the masses, because the masses usually do not see value in this kind of time investment if it is not related to money.

These strategies can be applied to almost any organization. How do you decide which organizations to join?

  • Identify professional groups in your area of ​​interest in your city (e.g. toastmasters, young professional associations, high school alumni groups, etc.)
  • Find community organizations (e.g. chamber of commerce, city support groups, etc., etc.)
  • Find out which roles in these organizations fit your career interests and get involved.

Srinivas Rao is a personal development blogger at The Skool of Life where he writes about self-help, spirituality and personal development through his love of surfing. He recently completed the Pepperdine MBA program and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

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