While many may link innovation with technology, innovation can be applied to any job in any industry in any geography. If that is the case, what are the innovation career opportunities for those who want to be innovators but who don't have a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) background?
This week, I received an email from a listener (Chris) that asked a number of career advice questions. I began writing a reply and then realized that many of the listeners may be asking themselves the same question(s).
So this week, I dedicated the show to answer Chris' career advice questions in the hopes of dispelling the thought that the only career opportunities for innovators such as you are in the technology fields.
Q) What opportunities (careers and fields) are available in the “innovation space”, for those of us who are not STEM grads or lawyers.
- While many think innovation = tech (STEM), there are many innovation career opportunities outside of tech.
- A simple search of LinkedIn for jobs under the word “innovation” returns 1000's of responses across a wide range of industries. For example:
- Innovation for Online Community
- Innovation Project Management
- Supply Chain Innovation
- Innovation for customer experience
- .. and many more.
- What companies are looking for are people who can invent/create new processes, methods, markets, customers, etc.
- When you see the word “innovation” in a job title or job description, they are looking for people who can “invent” and “create”.
- In some cases, companies don't use the word “innovation” in the job description even when what they need is an innovator.
- If you are looking for an innovation career, search for words such as:
- “Highly creative”
- “Innovative person to”
- “Can thinks outside the box” (I personally hate this one. It's a cliche that people say but don't really understand)
- “Willing to take risks”
- “Willing to experiment”
- “No afraid to”
- Don't give up. If you want to succeed in the innovation economy – you need to find/create the job yourself.
Q) It seems to me, that we are still largely in an ecosystem where credentialism and hard skills reign; where innovative/creative skills are ancillary. What are your thoughts?
- While there are a few college degrees in “innovation”, we as an industry “lack” any form of a ‘certification'
- Should we as an industry/career have a certification in “innovation”? Maybe
- In some cases, people who have graduated from my Innovation Boot Camp course have used that as a “credential” to justify creating an innovation team inside their organization
- I've been approached to create an “innovation credential” which has caused to step back and consider creating a “credential” for innovation.
- Would love to hear your thoughts if you would find that useful.
- Given that doesn't exist a certification, what are you to do?
- Prove to your current or future employers that you are the innovation person they need
- So what should you do to get ready for a career in innovation?
- Continuous skills development.
- Portfolio of projects
- Use your history of projects to show skill and ability
Q) Do you think these types of skill-sets (creativity/innovation etc.) are rewarded more in the entrepreneurship/consulting space, rather than in any particular career?
- I think more and more companies see innovation and creativity as valuable.
- Recent study showed that 81% of CEO's said “innovation and creativity” we're important to their share price.
- At the same time, most say they aren't confident they have the people or systems in place to do it right.
- So – companies need help and are looking for people like you who can help them.
- regarding the questions on “rewards”, for companies that value innovation, the answer is a strong YES!!!
- Some examples of how they have setup their reward systems:
- Patent support and recognition (something of value that you can claim as “proof” even if you change jobs)
- Career path (e.g. TCP for highly innovative people)
- Budget and flexibility to pursue innovations
Q) For example, I enjoy everything concerning creativity techniques, problem identification, developing new things, solving problems etc. I am unclear, how any of these skills directly translate to any one career in today's world; even though we are supposedly in the creative economy.
- The realization of the new economy is not evenly dispersed across companies, industries or globally
- The skills needed to be successful in the innovation economy requires that exercise your creative muscle. Keep it sharp and in shape.
- Don't wait for the innovation career opportunity. You need to evangelize why it's important and why you're the person to do it.
- At HP, I pitched the formation of the Innovation Program Office before I was named CTO. I didn't wait for someone else to create it.
Resources To Help With An Innovation Career:
- 15 Ways To Feed Your Creative Mind S12 Ep23
- The Top 5 Skills Every Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) Needs
- 9 Daily Exercises that I Do to Keep My Creative Muscle in Shape