Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed Book Summary

by Jack Thomas January 09, 2023

Main Takeaway

People find their careers are confined by organizational structure and may not realize it. They think they are doing what is required to advance and are discouraged when their career does not go where it was envisioned. There are ways to achieve career acceleration which means reaching your capacity to gain speed in your career and not achieving overnight success. Many people can reach their career peak in their early 40s by following a plan of action that includes, but is not limited to, setting career goals when starting a career, developing plans to reach goals, working with a mentor at each career stage, building critical relationships, and becoming an industry thought leader through learning and experience.

What You’ll Learn

  • Self-limiting stereotypic thought patterns that assume there are insurmountable challenges to career progression leads to people making false assumptions about the length of time it takes to achieve an executive position
  • Embracing a growth mindset leads to learning new things and overcoming old and unproductive knowledge
  • The first career steps should be intentional goal setting with corresponding plans and a strong commitment and supported by a motive that sustain your efforts
  • Choose a career that is a good fit based on values, financial goals, high income skills, education, current and future demand and supply for particular skills and research that includes getting first-hand information from successful people
  • The myths of career progression, including the myth it takes more than 30 years to become an executive, are just that: myths
  • Looking for job opportunities that hone competencies is more important to the first job search than mindlessly searching for a job
  • The dos and don’ts of interviewing
  • There is a right way to change career paths if you discover you are on the wrong one and will be unable to achieve goals; they include assessing your motive and learning from colleagues with experience
  • Office politics is a mix of competition and powerplay, and how you act determines whether it is good or bad office politics
  • There are appropriate ways to respond to bad office politics and ways to use good office politics to get ahead
  • Different knowledge, skills and strategies are developed to move from one career stage to another
  • It is important to plan for retirement while young and no later than your 30s in order to retire with wealth in the future
  • How to become a thought leader and utilize the status to develop other income opportunities, like speaking at conferences, and leverage the recognition for career acceleration
  • Develop a personal brand and have a strong LinkedIn profile as a career person
Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed

Featured In This Review

Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed


People find their careers are confined by organizational structure and may not realize it. They think they are doing what is required to advance and are discouraged when their career does not go where it was envisioned.


Climbing the Corporate Ladder With Speed Book Summary

People who reach their career pinnacle after decades are often praised for their success, leading younger people to believe it must take decades to achieve career success. This idea becomes embedded in their thought process and has the consequence of holding them back. Instead, says author Dr. Fene Osakwe, they should embrace a growth mindset because success is built on a commitment to achieving goals on a personal timeline, a similar belief presented in the book GRIT.

Too many people start careers without setting goals or developing a realistic plan to achieve those goals. Having well-defined goals drives behaviors and decisions. For example, you may have a goal to work for a multinational company. Knowing the goal, you purposefully pursue the requirements to achieve it. You should also identify a valid motive that sustains pursuit of the goal through good and bad times. Seek out people who have achieved a similar goal and can become mentors. These are the values to hold on to without compromise.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed Book quote 1

An important point made throughout this book is to not rely on hyped media stories about people’s success. These stories are exceptions to the rule. Instead, set your career goals in an area where ordinary people have a high success rate. You must do what it takes to succeed and not limit yourself by thinking you only need to give it your best effort. It should be a purposeful effort, and that includes putting effort into assessing career possibilities. Rather than choosing a career based on a personal passion, think about your values, financial goals, high-demand skills, supply and demand in fields of interest, and other factors. Interestingly, the seven habits described in the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People remain true and fit nicely with Osakwe’s career acceleration advice, especially the advice to be proactive and to begin with the end in mind.

There are myths about choosing the best career and career progression. One of the myths is that it takes 30-40 years to reach an executive position. You can constantly develop yourself and deliver results, creating value at each level and being recognized as having value to provide at the executive level. People should not wait for their organizations to create opportunities, like promotions, and instead, take personal responsibility for career growth.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed Book quote 2

A new mindset is needed for landing a job. It is easy to get discouraged after applying for 100s of jobs. Instead of looking for a job, look for job opportunities that hone skills needed for meeting career objectives and add experience. You cannot always get what you want and when you want it, but you can always remain focused on your career goals and maintain a willingness to learn. Along the way you will meet people who can help you advance your career. When you do land entry-level job interviews, go prepared to describe things like values and goals and plans for meeting goals.

After getting on the desired career path, intentionality remains a critical factor for staying on that path and accelerating the career. Being competent and qualified is not enough. As the book Linchpin also points out, you have to make your choices and then make yourself indispensable. You may discover along the way that you need to change career paths because the one you are on will not let you achieve goals. But before changing jobs, you need to consider your motive, if there is a mentor who can help you in the career transition, certifications you can earn that are relevant to the new career, and how to best manage the transition like leveraging internal career opportunities and doing the research to gain thorough knowledge of the new industry and skills needed. Once the new career is started, learn from senior colleagues, learn as much as possible by reading and from team members, connect with industry professionals, and solve problems.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed Book quote 3

The author spends a chapter discussing office politics. While office politics are considered something to avoid, Osakwe says you need to play office politics but with the right motivation and by maintaining more values. Bad office politics result from a win-at-all-cost mentality, selfish behaviors, hypocritical and deceitful behaviors, and a willingness to sabotage others. You can learn additional strategies for eliminating negative influences in the book The No Asshole Rule. There are many appropriate ways to overcome the negativity of bad office politics and ways to leverage good office politics like being the best at what you do and creating positive relationships.

Osakwe shared his personal story of how he climbed the corporate ladder from entry-level to executive-level. He achieved this at three different multinational companies but makes the point you can accelerate a career at the same company. His main point, similar to the point made in the book It’s Called Work for a Reason!, is that you must always take responsibility for personal success at every step. Osakwe shares the principles, skills, and habits applied to move from position to position. The first stage of entry level work is a learning stage in which mistakes are made but become the basis for accelerating his career. To move into mid-level management, he developed a sharp learning curve and became a subject matter expert. He was consistent in meeting work timelines, became a problem-solver, and developed relationships with mid-level managers. The quality of relationships are, as the book Give and Take explains, a crucial determinant of success.

To reach the next level of senior-level management, Osakwe says you should understand the big picture across functions as to how the company makes money. Gain knowledge by solving a problem with a larger business impact. You should learn what senior managers want, master time management, and leverage office politics. Once again, build strategic relationships within the company.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed Book quote 4

To move into executive management, make yourself known to the current executives, develop exceptional presentation skills, tie your work to organizational goals, and take other steps that help others recognize your talent and executive level abilities. Become a recognized industry expert and know how to recruit the right people into the company.

The third section of the book is focused first on building status in an industry and second on thinking about retirement while young. After growing in the chosen career path, establish a presence in the industry and prepare for retirement in the future. Become an industry thought leader and take the opportunities as they develop to create a presence, like speaking engagements. Find a mentor who will help you avoid making mistakes and help you gain access to the opportunities.

Planning for retirement means developing intentional plans to maintain a standard of living after retiring. Make investments, save money, and manage expenses and anticipate how expenses will increase over time.
Though some of the advice in this book may seem obvious at first glance, it is Dr. Osakwe’s sharing of his real-world experience that adds depth to even the common suggestions. The tone of the book is inviting and humble, so it appeals to everyone who is sincerely looking for career acceleration advice. The information is presented in an organized and interesting manner with each chapter building on the one before it. His main message is to do everything you can to achieve your full potential and not leave anything to chance. This is an uplifting book meant to inspire people to career success by sharing what he believes are the steps anyone can and should take.

About the Author

Dr. Fene Osakwe earned a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Computer Engineering from Lautech (Ladoke Akintola University of Technology) in Nigeria. In 2020, he completed the Senior Management Program in Business Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services at the Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University in Nigeria. Osakwe has also earned 10 certifications, including ISO/IEC 27005 Lead Risk Manager certification from the International Organization for Standardization and EC-Council’s Certified Chief Information Security Officer from the EC-Council.

Osakwe worked for Deloitte Nigeria from November 2010 to May 2016 as a Cyber Security Specialist, followed by a year as Assistant Manager. From June 2017 to April 2018, he was a Manager at MTN and then went to work at IHS Towers. At IHS Towers, Osakwe started as Senior Manager IT Security and then became the Associate Director – IT Governance, Risk & Control. In January 2021 moved into the position of Director, Group IT- GRC & Strategy in Dubai, UAE.

In June 2022, Fene Osakwe was invited to join the prestigious Forbes Technology Council. This is a true honor. He is a recognized expert in cyber security IT governance, IT strategy, risk Management, and Sarbanes-Oxley implementations.

Osakwe has done consulting work for financial institutions, telecoms, fintech companies, state governments, and universities. He continues to do consulting work and is also internationally recognized as an expert speaker on cybersecurity and tech governance. Osakwe is frequently invited to speak at international conferences.

These accomplishments have been achieved in less than a decade. In 2021, Dr. Osakwe was awarded an honorary Doctor of Business Administration for leadership and innovation by the Swiss School of Business in Geneva. He mentors recently graduated career professionals on strategies for reaching the executive management level within a 10-year period. Dr. Osakwe founded the Fene Osakwe Foundation to empower African children with tech skills needed to compete in today’s world.

Dr. Fene Osakwe shares his career advancement advice in his book Climbing the Corporate Ladder with Speed. He has a website where more information is available about his Career Mentorship Program and his courses on career advancement and management. He also has a Facebook page and is found on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Jack Thomas
Jack Thomas

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