“New Horizons space probe”, “Pluto flyby” are the current buzzword. Tuesday, 14th July, 2015, was that historic moment; where we have proved once again the capability of you and me, us the humans. New Horizons blasted off in January 19 2006, and was the fastest launch recorded, reaching speeds of over 36,000 miles per hour. The spacecraft passed the Moon after just nine hours, around eight times quicker than the Apollo program, and reached Jupiter the following year. After 9.5 years, and traveling more 5 billion kilometers it had reached the orbit of Pluto and even sent back mind boggling images of the youngest planet in our solar system, Pluto.
The New Horizons project is a success. But, that success didn’t come over night. Just like any business projects we carry out in our professional lives, it was a project for NASA. In our business world, we do many projects every year. Some fails, some succeeds and some succeeds beyond expectation. After reading several articles, watching documentaries about New Horizons space probe projects, I personally thing, there’s 5 crucial factors which has lead this project to a successful project. We can surely learn from it and implement in our business projects to make them successful.
Factor # 1 : Team
Without the right team in place, any strategy and plan has the potential of completely falling apart. The New Horizons team comprised of 4 majors teams -Team Leaders, Science Team, Co-Investigators, and Team Leads with defined responsibilities and goal. It is important to assign the right people to each aspect of the project and make sure that they are working well together.
Factor # 2 : Planning
Proper and Detailed planning sets up a project for success from the start. It’s crucial that all the team members are involved in the planning process and always know in which direction the project is going to go. Planning can help the team to meet deadlines and stay organized. For example, New Horizons team planned way ahead in time to ensure that the probe was able to reach Pluto when it’s nearest to us. It’s crucial to remember that Pluto follows a highly elliptical orbit around the Sun. At the closest point of its orbit, called perihelion, Pluto gets to within 4.44 billion km from the Sun. The team planned way ahead in time to ensure that the New Horizons probe reached when Pluto is at the closest point of its orbit. Hence, the probe was able to reach Pluto in quickest time possible at a reliable and realistic time-scale.
Factor # 3 : Foreseeing Risk
During the planning phase, it’s crucial to produce probable list of risks with an action plan for the risks that the project could face. For example, the new Horizons probe is traveling at speed of 84,000 kilometers per hour. Even a small rice grain size space rock can damage the equipment’s on board. The new horizons team were able to take care of this ensuring that the radio antenna was always faced towards the path direction so that if any small objects will hit the large antenna and won’t damage the equipment’s behind it. This gave the team confidence and resulted in success in the project.
Factor # 4 : Improvising
Projects rarely go off exactly as planned. Even after identifying and going through probable risks, teams faces unforeseen risks. It doesn’t mean that that project should be stopped and restarted again. Stopping or restarting a project can be highly costly in terms of money and time. It important to improvise. It’s crucial to openly communicate within the team about it and trying to find a smart solution with least cost and time. Same happened with the New Horizons team. They launched the probe on January 19, 2006. They later realized that they had miscalculated the orbit of Pluto as they didn’t have a lot of information about the planet’s orbit. Later with improvement of technology and in combination with images captured by researchers, the team was able to find the accurate info about the orbit. Hence, they were able to send information to the probe in advance to save the project from total failure.
Factor # 5 : Project Continuation & Closure
If a project does not have strong closure or succession planning, then it has the potential to continue to consume resources. The project team must be firm and agree that all critical success factors have been met. Some cases, projects turn into actions or evolves into daily routines of the team members. It has to be clearly defined in the project scope, whether the project will end once it has achieved a certain goal or will it continue and evolve to be part of daily work. For example, the New Horizons space probe has received his goal of taking images of Pluto and sending them back. But, it will now continue to go further and explore the universe beyond Pluto till 2030. It’s a classic example of project continuation even after it has completed its main goal.
MBA, is the buzz word. As the world economy is getting tougher, global-local companies are looking for employees with high educational qualification. Many of the mid-career professionals face the need to do an MBA for moving ahead in their career. Hence, here’s my five (5) checklist for choosing your MBA.
Checkpoint # 1: Complete your MBA within 1 year instead of 2 years
Getting back to studies after a long break is already quite difficult; moreover, if you plan to quit your job and pursue an MBA, try to find an university which offers an MBA, the program in 1 year instead of 2 years. That one year will be nothing less than a pressure cooker, but end of the day it will be worth it. End of the course, you will not only have your diploma in your pocket, moreover, you will save 1 year compare to other professionals.
Checkpoint # 2: Value for money
There’s one crucial reason why I am suggesting you to go for a one year program instead of 2 years, and that’s money. For example, a Full time MBA cost around € 28,500 for one year of Maastricht School of Management. Now, that’s just the study cost. You also need a place to live, eat and do social activities. Now let’s do a simple math comparison between 1 year and 2 years MBA program:
That’s just a rough estimate, but the main message is, you will be able to save € 7.000 – € 8.000 just by doing MBA in 1 year instead of 2 years. Even you can say Bye Bye to your student loans sooner.
Checkpoint # 3: World Class accredited
If you are investing your savings or even if your company is investing, make sure you get the best quality learning from your MBA. One of the ways to ensure that is to see whether the university you’re planning to pursue your MBA from is world class accredited. Why? If the university is accredited by a reputable organization, it ensures the quality of a business school. Accreditation organizations ensure the quality standards of a business school, faculties, teaching methods, student services etc. ACBSP, AMBA, IACBE, AACSB is one of the well-known accreditation authorities.
Checkpoint # 4: Learn more from people than from books
You are mid-career professionals, you know the basic of business or at least you know how things run in the business world. You know the basic ABCD of the business world, now you want to do MBA to take your career to the next level. You can’t do that alone learning from lectures and books. The best place to learn is from the people, the classmates, who have vast years of experience in different industries, in different countries. You will not only learn how to deal with people from different countries and different cultures, but also will gather a vast amount of knowledge how to do business in different countries.
From my personal experience, when I did my MBA from Maastricht School of Management, we have students from 30 countries out of 56 students. We called ourselves the UN. While solving cases, the practical ideas that used to pop-up were amazing, which a book will never teach you. So, have looked into the past alumni list of the university, check their experience level, country etc. Before jumping for an MBA.
Checkpoint # 5: Scholarship / Fellowship
Last but not least, look for the grants, scholarship for your country. Searching for a scholarship is time costly, but if you can find a good one, it will save a lot of your money. You might don’t even need a loan. Think about it.
Also, a lot of time universities have fellowships of their own. Be blunt and directly contact the Admission officer whether there’s such possibilities. Most of the time it’s competitive basis. If you have a good application, it’s a worth trying for.
From my personal experience, I had to compete for Maastricht School of Management Fellowship program, but at the end I got 50% fellowship. It’s not only prestigious, but saved a lot of cost. So, invest some time in searching a scholarship, you will definitely get the return on investment (ROI) for the time you will spend.
For a long time, I was thinking about writing an article on LinkedIn, specially focused on professionals who are in mid-level of their career or just finished their Masters and looking for a new career opportunity. There’s many blogs, articles written on how to make an ideal profile on LinkedIn. Most of the blogs touches the basic ground for sure, but I wanted to focus a bit more on how to increase your ranking in LinkedIn pragmatically.
So here’s my 7 simple ways to increase your ranking in LinkedIn…
Step # 1: Choose a professional picture
Let me get one thing straight in the beginning; “This is NOT Facebook”.
You can put your drinking, partying pictures, family pictures, selfies on Facebook, but not in LinkedIn. Recruiters appreciate a social employees, no doubt about that, but it will not help you land the dream job you are looking for. I have seen many users using their Passport photo as LinkedIn profile picture. Ask yourself this simple question…
“Are you applying for a visa via LinkedIn?”
So, please get a professional photo taken by a photographer. If you are a fresh graduate, can’t afford a photographer’s service charge. Just ask one of your friends, to take a picture of in outside in a park when it’s a sunny day or even you can take a picture in the university premises. Make sure your face is clearly visible and don’t forget to smile.
Step # 2: Start networking
Start connecting and networking with your colleagues, ex-colleagues, classmates. Spend a few minutes in sending a personalized invitation. LinkedIn provides standard templates, but it’s always appreciated / liked by recipients when you a little personal touch to it.
Also, don’t hesitate to add professional in your business fields or recruiters, but please add a line or two in the invitation, why you would like to connect to them. Don’t just send out add request, just for a sake of it, be professional.
Networking professionals will land you jobs and career opportunities before you know it.
Step # 3: Get your profile proofread by a professional
You may have a brilliant CV and excellent achievements, but you have grammatical mistakes in your profile, the likely hood of your getting called for an interview is lower. I work closely with HR colleagues in my current professions and I have seen CV’s getting rejected due to poor grammar skills. According Harvard Business Review, people who care about their writing demonstrate credibility, professionalism, and accuracy in their work.
Firstly, get your profile’s contents checked via free grammar checking software’s (for example: www.gingersoftware.com). Then ask your friend who is good in English
Step # 4: Don’t apply for just any jobs, because you are desperately looking for one.
A lot of fresh graduates and experienced professionals start applying for jobs out of desperation. Remember one thing, every time, every single hasty job application you send out, you are closing door to that company.
Read the job profile thoroughly, see the language requirements and skills. For example, usually in the Netherlands, if the employer is looking forward expats, they post the job in English. Don’t apply for a job where language requirement is Dutch or German or a language which you don’t know.
Most importantly, think through and adapt your CV accordingly based on the job you want to apply for.
Step # 5: Add achievements & extracurricular activities
While counselling many of professional networks and friend about how to make an ideal profile on LinkedIn, I encounter many saying “I don’t have any achievements in my professions”.
“You have worked 3-4 years and at a mid-level or managerial position, but don’t have any achievements??”
Think again? Achievements, not necessarily means that you have received a certificate for something. If you have an award or certificate, that’s great, put in on the LinkedIn profile under respective jobs or academic degrees.
On the other hand, if you don’t have any awards in paper, think once again. Maybe you have optimized or reduced cost to the company or achieved your KPI 100% or beyond. Or maybe you introduced or came up with an idea to make a project more efficient, which resulted in an increased sales.
It’s just a food for thought. End of the day, even the laziest man has achievement, you must be wondering how. As rightly quoted by Bill Gates, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
Last but not the least, don’t forget to add your extra curriculum activities. It represents your personality. For example, you were the class president, it shows your leadership skills or you were part of football team, which showcases that you are tend to be a team player.
Step # 6: Ask for recommendation and endorsement
You can always ask your colleagues and classmates to write a few lines about you, your work as a recommendation in the LinkedIn. You don’t necessarily have to ask via email. You can always casually ask them to do it in their free times. Remember one thing, Recruiters doesn’t know you as a person or doesn’t know your excellent interpersonal skills. The best way to showcase that, via your network or people who knows in professionally and personally via LinkedIn recommendation feature
Step # 7: Add the projects
Add the name of the completed projects that you have worked. By including the name of the projects, you will not only showcase that you have experience in handling / managing / contributing projects, but also it will work as keywords; and will increase your ranking in LinkedIn.
What is LinkedIn: it’s the world’s largest professional network with 300 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe. If you are looking for a job or want to take your business to the next, this is the right place to be.