Secret marketer: Let’s smash the glass corridors that stop people from furthering their skill set

We are all used to the term ‘glass ceiling’ – an invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of career advancement can be seen but cannot be reached by a section of qualified and deserving employees.

This week, I heard an interesting variation of the term from one of my colleagues – the “glass corridor”, which surprisingly has not made it to the Wall Street Journal or even Google.

At the same time, my eminent human resources (HR) colleagues have embarked on a global levelling process in order to compare marketing managers across the world.

While the merits of such an exercise are no doubt admirable, the practicalities are somewhat different. In my case, not only does the job description differ hugely – my role includes corporate affairs, which my American counterpart can’t even spell – but the scale of the job varies vastly, as we are a market leader in one country but a challenger elsewhere.

Which brings me back to glass corridors. One of the consequences of the global levelling exercise is to typecast people into certain specialisms, sometimes fairly early in their careers. I disagree with this approach, as I believe people should retain flexibility as much as they can, for as long as they can – being able to move from, say, a product manager role to a campaign manager to a PR manager, early on in their careers.

I first heard the term glass corridors when a colleague asked me about furthering their career in a different discipline outside of marketing, in order to develop the broader skills necessary to become a general manager or CEO in another field in the future: finance, operations or even, God forbid, sales.

HR had a less than encouraging view about this. They maintain that marketing is a skill and that it would be suicide to leave a relatively senior position in marketing, where one had established their credentials, in order to jump ship and start all over again.

What they fail to appreciate is that marketing is a business discipline that lends itself to almost any role in a company, and that someone with a portfolio career has potentially more to offer than someone who has come up via a single route in their career.

In short, someone needs to start throwing stones into this particular glass corridor.

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  • Caroline Davies 5 Feb 2015 at 11:09 am

    We have the opposite at our company where it is difficult to progress without moving sideways first and broadening your experience. All well and good except when you decide you do want to specialise – progression is limited to moving externally….

  • Jennifer Snowden 10 Feb 2015 at 3:53 pm

    This is something I have considered myself recently, nice to know I’m not the only one. My company is keen to develop my skills but I think I would like to revisit my design roots, rather than just attend marketing courses. If I were to take my masters now, I would consider doing something outside of marketing and more business orientated as I think this would help my career later down the line.

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