careers

Tool 42 of 104 is to optimize your opportunities

Tool 42 of 104 is to optimize your opportunities

“…To him, Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plough and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:51-62

He spotted me at a restaurant and came directly to my table. A Tall, dark-skinned about 36 years old man. He looked at me and asked, “Are you, Mustapha Bernabas?” I replied, yes, sure. “Nice to meet you, Bernabas. I need your help; can I join you?” I nodded, yes.  “School cheated me. All the things they taught me were lies. I have been getting jobs, but I lose them all. I have just gotten a new job. I need your advice on how to keep it. I am so afraid, every day I see people submitting applications for positions, and I am scared someone better will soon take my job.”

Do you know what keeps your immediate boss up at night?  Do you know what people complain about within your organization? What are your employer’s top leaders most worried about?

When I got employment at a financial institution in the finance department, I noticed that my boss, the head of finance then, used to stay longer in the office. All other staff would leave except him. Every time I came to the office on Saturdays, I would see him in the office. I was a petty cash cashier by then. I was at a low level to even knock on his door and ask what made him sleep in the office.

Three days later, I asked his Personal Assistant (PA), “why is it that the boss is the first in office and last to leave. Works late on Friday evenings and comes on Saturdays?”  She replied, “that man is a workaholic. He likes working. Oyo Omusajja, tomusobola. The fact that the PA is almost a peer, I probed further. Who do you think would know, to which she replied, the accountant or the IT officer?

I rushed to the Accountant. I found him seated swinging on his desk. “Good morning chief, I am trying to find out how I could be of help in my free time. You see I handle petty cash, and when there are no casual workers to pay, I am just seated. Do you have any role you would need a hand?” I asked.  He smiled, looked at me, and said: Do you see me needing help? I said I am sorry. And I left.  I rushed to the IT officer. I met the gentleman; the boss’s secretary had told me. At the time we used to have meals at the company in the dinning. “Good morning Sir. I am Mustapha Bernabas. I have something I would want to talk to you. Is it ok for us to have a lunch date?”  Sure. You are my date. During lunch, I asked the young man, why the finance boss seemed to sleep in the office to which he told me that he also did not know. However, every Friday evening, he extracts a lot of data from the banking system and exports to an Excel format. The Finance Director uses that report. Since you work in the department, I can share this information. It is just about who withdrew what, top depositors, and cash flow movements.  With this information, I went back to the boss’s PA, who told me about the Top Management Team meeting every Monday where the Boss presents a report. I asked to see a copy of the Finance Director’s report, and I noticed that he gets raw data files and edits manually to prepare a finance report with graphs, ratios and key performance areas of the bank like top customers by deposits, most profitable branch or ATM productivity.

Using my MS Excel skills, I developed a macro in Advanced Excel and automated the entire process of the reports he makes. With my macro, it was able to process all the manual work my boss spent doing a whole weekend in just 10 minutes! All my boss had to do is to either connect his computer directly to the core banking system or get the raw data files from IT and then load it in MS Excel. I gave the tool to the PA of the Finance Director and told her to show him. He opened it and liked the quality graphs. “Who did this?” He yelled — a new staff called Mustapha.

Tell him to come here, urgently.  I went running. “young man, sit there. How did you know that I need a report like this?” I asked how come you work on weekends, and they told me it could be due to that report. “I love it. I am now promoting you to management accounting role. Well-done.”

Within just three months, I got promoted past two levels that take other people over six years to get through!

You, too, can optimize your career chances and grow. All you need to know is what is keeping your top management up at night. Go read. Keep your ear on the ground. Be the solution that everyone has to rely on to succeed in their careers. I can guarantee that you will not only have job security but become a staff who others trust and want to be around.

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