Howard is regional director at Michael Page Hong Kong and oversees a number of disciplines including sales, marketing, digital, procurement & supply chain, retail & sourcing, finance, and HR.
Passion beats pay in the long run
I worked in sales roles with several different companies and industries for some 10 years. I never enjoyed the role, but ended up as a senior salesperson. Then I got a job offer in operations as a trainee with a very reputable corporation. The role is rewarding in terms of job satisfaction and career advancement, and I feel I am more suited to it. More importantly, after two years of training I will be assigned to a senior supervisor role. But then I was also just offered a senior sales role in one of the Fortune Global 500’s top five firms. The package is very attractive and I think it will take at least three to four years for my operations role to catch up. I think it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for such a big company, but don’t see the same career-advancement opportunities. I won’t acquire leadership skills or a career path and don’t see them in this role. I hope you can shed some light.
First, assess your career priorities and what matters to you most. My suggestion would be to sit down and list the push and pull factors. It seems there is no real push factor at play from your current role. The real destabilising factors are more pull in the form of the monetary and reputational gains.
If monetary gains and brand recognition are key to this stage of your career, then I would say that the new sales role would suit your needs. But from what you have said, you mentioned that you worked in sales for 10 years and did not particularly enjoy it. Therefore, I question whether the attractive package or high-profile company is enough to cover your desire to work in an operations role where you would get job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities.
Monetary or financial compensation can only provide so much gratification. An individual who is passionate and good at their role will ultimately build a successful career in the field they choose. From a career perspective, it sounds as if your current position will provide better medium- to long-term gains, while the new sales role may offer short-term gains, but maybe not the ideal career.
Having invested two years in an operations role, and having tried sales, will it make more sense to develop a career in operations? You probably have a good 25 more years to go in your working life. Chances are that you will have to revisit the issue of you not enjoying your role as a sales professional after a few years.
The last thing you will want is to discover you are really not suited to sales, and try to exit again. You may run the risk of looking jumpy and non-directional on your résumé. Should there be other factors at play which could affect your decision, I suggest you talk to people the decision will have a direct impact on.
While the final decision lies with you, and could possibly be based on other factors, my recommendation is to take a longer-term view of your career. Finally, I wish you all the best in your career.
Howard Chan is director of Michael Page’s sales and marketing, digital, procurement and supply chain, and retail teams in Hong Kong.