How do I choose the right BDM roles to position for Senior Manager?

Article Seldon-Rosser-How-To-Choose-Right-BDM-Roles-For-Senior-Manager

The amount of job options available to you will decrease at Senior Manager level.  It makes sense – as you climb ladder, there less options to consider.

With lots of quality BDMs vying to step up into these Senior BD Manager positions, it’s important to make the right career choices when you’re a BD Manager to position for these.

Every career move you make, you should be asking yourself:

  • Where will this take me?
  • What does the move after this look like?
  • What will I learn to make me a bigger asset and invaluable to firms?

When BDMs are thinking about their next challenge there are often four key areas important for them to build:

  1. Regional / international experience
  2. Market leading sophisticated BD experience around clients, sectors, pursuits
  3. Team management experience
  4. Varied practice / sector experience

Not every BDM role you’re in will, or needs to, offer all four (they would be rare).  But those best positioned for Senior BD Managers roles down the track would have developed their skills in these areas through their BDM choices.

It’s worth saying there should be no rush to Senior Manager.  There are only so many levels in this profession and our careers are long.  Those promoted too quickly at the expense of developing their skills in one of these key areas can find it harder to secure their second Senior BD Manager role.

So if you’re a BDM now, which of these four areas do you still need to develop?

Regional / International experience:

These 14 jobs span 5 cities – Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Singapore, Sydney.  12 of these options are open to BDMs willing to relocate (offering visas).

What’s stopping you?  Moving with a young family, needing ability to travel frequently to see family, securing a visa, renting your home, needing a few months’ notice?  None of this is insurmountable.  We work with people doing it every day of the week.

Understand that – if you are a BDM, your skills are in demand all over the world.  You might be sat in Auckland or Manchester but be in with a great chance of getting a role in HK, Dubai or Sydney!

This is the time in your career when you have the most international options available to you. 

Yes we support Execs who are relocating, but it is less common.

And as a Senior Manager?  Not impossible to get your first international move.  But by then you’ll be up against BDMs who have proven themselves with international moves already – demonstrating ability to transition into a new market, work successfully in different cultural contexts and often have understanding of the market already.  At Manager level, now is the time where all that’s expected is the transferable skills and the potential!  Now is the time.

Some of the most sought after candidates for BDM / Senior BDM roles are those returning to their home market.  This applies whether you’re a Brit returning to London from the Asia-Pacific; returning to Hong Kong after time in Australia/UK; or a Kiwi “returning” from Asia/Middle East to Sydney (sometimes smaller markets like Auckland/Brisbane can feel too small to return to after the bright lights of HK/London).

Why these are candidates so attractive to employers?  Both national and international firms have an international strategy and global clients.  Your international experience can only add value – whether you’re bringing back knowledge of emerging markets or best practice BD from a more progressive market.

Market leading sophisticated BD:

How do we define this?

Often, but not always, these are in the western markets.  These firms are often leading international / national brands where BD is client focused and you will be exposed to being more client facing, utilising the latest sales methodologies, best practice account management, genuine pursuits strategy.

Whilst it may not be part of your day to day role these firms will often lead the way on digital strategy, data analytics, content-led and sector/client focused marcomms strategy, investing in innovation – perhaps with aligned and new business models.

Sometimes the job description can read the same as the role you’re working in now.  But we often find that if you’re not in one of these market leading teams, you don’t know what you don’t know.  Speak to us to find out more about what these teams are doing and why something that you might initially dismiss as a lateral move could be the most career defining move you could ever make.

Team Management:

This can sometimes be the toughest one.  As many roles which offer the above two strings to your bow may not offer this.  The structure of BD teams is often flat – with Coordinators / Advisors as well as Managers reporting through to a Head of / Senior Manager.

There are benefits – Managers can have day-to-day management and mentoring responsibility without getting ‘bogged down’ in the administrative side of management.  It also allows only soft alignment of Advisors to different sectors/practices – better for their career development.

It can be a challenge however for BDMs to get the team management experience they seek.  Sometimes, Directors can tweak the team to allow this progression – but team structures can’t be overhauled.

Of these 14 roles, only 4 offer direct people management.  What should that tell you? Not to expect this in every BDM role – sometimes those offering the international exposure and the market leading BD are not the same ones that offer team management.  You need to develop skills in all areas, but not necessarily at the same time.

Varied Practices / Sectors:

There’s also an argument for the importance of getting broad experience across practices and sectors.  Not as important for the step up to Senior Manager, but down the track if you want to be a Head of BD / Director of the future.  If you’ve only ever supported Advisory/Tax, Dispute Resolution, Transport for example, it would be harder to step into the overall Head of / Director role without demonstrable understanding of the entire business (whether accounting, law or engineering).

This is a career choice – there are plenty of people who decide to become a specialist in a particular industry sector.  There’s merit to it – but the end goal of the career journey will be different and you need to be conscious of this when making career choices.  Unsure where your plans and motivations fit here?  Talk to us.

There are so many options, how do I make the right decision?

If nothing else, we hope this article helps you realise that as a BDM your skills are at their most in demand locally (wherever you’re based) and internationally.  This is the time when you have the most options. 

It has to be the right time for anyone to make a move and we don’t promote moving too soon, but it is important to understand your options well in advance so that you know where you’re going.

Contact us, pick our brains on the market and your options.

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