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Working in Strategy Planning

Strategy Planning JobsStrategy planning sounds very technical and very complex, but what the phrase actually boils down to is the formation and execution of a plan that will help a company, firm or organization grow and prosper. It’s all about creating a plan, based on a previous plan, which will ultimately lead to the betterment of the company over the course of a period of time (usually a year). Pretty well every company has some sort of strategy plan, from the one-man corner shop selling cookies to the neighborhood to a multi-billion, multi-national business; the main difference being of course the size and scope of the plan! And in order to have this plan, the business needs someone to create it, or in the case of the huge businesses, a team of people. Some may consider strategy planning to be ‘make work’ or less important while others consider it to be of premium importance, but no matter where the company stands, having a plan to get ahead is always a good idea and that means hiring the people who create it. How can you land a job in strategy planning and help businesses grow and change?

Requirements to Work In Strategic Planning

Since people who work in strategy planning quite literally hold the future of the company in their hands, it’s not easy to break into the field and people rarely go from nothing to a planner without doing things in between. Generally speaking, the best way to go about it is to start in an entry level position in the planning department, doing projects and tasks with others and working your way up to becoming a senior planner. Very rarely are recent graduates accepted as planners and only from top business schools where they graduated at the top of their classes and got lucky. And it could be argued that it’s not so fortunate; in order to be a good planner, one has to have many skills that can really be best learned starting from the bottom of the department and working up. These skills include:

  • Finances
  • Budgeting
  • Marketing (focusing on customers, markets and technologies in order to see opportunities)
  • Strategy
  • Management
  • The ability to see the short term and the long term at the same time
  • Business development skills to connect with external partners
  • Negotiations and contract discussions
  • The staggering number of disciplines, experience, and knowledge needed to be a good strategic planner means you either have to ace your degree from a top of the line business school or learn the ropes as much as possible starting from a lower position and working your way up the ladder.

    Jobs in planning are hard to find and they usually go to people who have already been working in the company and have shown some experience already. Entry level positions are rarer and furthermore don’t always bear fruit, so it’s important to keep your options open and be willing to move sideways through a corporation for a while until you end up where you want to be rather than trying to go straight there.

    Skills and Talents

    Aside from a fantastic business education and some solid working experience (or good fortune), what else do you need personally to succeed in this career? Strategic planners have a very specific skill set that helps them to succeed and thrive in an environment that would seem frustrating and dull for others. Does this sound like you?

  • Fantastic communication skills
  • Very flexible and adaptable with a high energy level and the ability to take the initiative
  • Extremely high level of analytical skills and leadership abilities
  • Honest with a great work ethic
  • Able to problem solve and act on it
  • Great listening skills and writing skills
  • Very good business judgment and research skills
  • You are able to work very well with a diverse group of people and bring them together
  • Basically, you need to be able to go around, bringing people together, building a vision for the company based on the company’s existing principles and values, and be able to nearly predict the future. It’s not easy and the change from finances one day to dealing with clients the next can be stressful, but for the right people, the challenge is amazing. Furthermore, advancement opportunities are lucrative and rewarding; many CEOs for example are selected from those who have been working in strategic planning because they’ve already demonstrated abilities in everything a CEO has to do.

    Strategy planning is definitely not a career for the faint of heart, but it is rewarding in its own way. The ability to directly plan for the future of a business is heady stuff and the sheer amount of things that can be done from day to day is challenging for anyone. If this sounds good to you, then start planning your future; go to school, get your business degree and start seeing how you can help a company grow. Good luck!