#HRTechChat with Swati Jain on the Right Mindset for a Successful Career

Building a successful career requires the right mindset, skills, and strategies to navigate the changing job market. In this conversation with Swati Jain, a transformational advisor and leadership coach, she shared her experience of building her professional journey, highlighting the importance of building career resilience, self-discovery, and a deep understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses. She emphasized that hard and soft skills are crucial but not the only focus for career success. Rather, she recommended three key strategies to build career agility, take risks, and network effectively. And, that is what we dive into in the podcast.


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Jennifer Dole 00:00
Hello, and welcome to 3SixtyInsight’s podcast, where we are going to explore the mindset skills and strategies necessary to build a successful and fulfilling career in today’s rapidly changing world. I am your host, Jennifer Dole. And in this podcast, we are going to dive into the challenges and opportunities that come with navigating these twists and turns of career journeys. And I am super excited today to introduce you to Swati. She is my guest as a seasoned product executive with a passion for thriving digital transformation, and helping startups grow from zero to one. With years of experience in the SAS industry, and a talent for leading leadership coaching. She is a true expert in building successful products and teams. And she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to any project that she is working on. Such an invaluable resource. And I am so glad she’s on this podcast with us. Welcome.

Swati Jain 01:11
Jennifer, thank you for having me. And I must say that was a very generous introduction, I probably don’t introduce myself that way. So thank you for that.

Jennifer Dole 01:20
I’m always available to introduce you.

Swati Jain 01:23
Thank you again. And you know, really what I would add to that is, when I think about myself in general, in broader terms, I’m a builder or, I’ve built systems, I’ve built processes, I’ve built teams, and I’m really passionate about helping individuals build their professional journey. And when I think of my own trajectory, professional trajectory, it’s been a series of very asymmetrical building blocks, I have volved, in building products, I have worked in consulting and leading digital transformations, I went back to building products, I’ve established customer success divisions, I have ran professional services, I’ve done sales, engineering, you name it, I think, other than maybe just the finance department, I feel like I’ve run different facets of business. And quite frankly, those pivots are what ultimately allowed me to build a more diverse set of skills, a greater understanding of business, and ultimately be able to, to help not only businesses, but individuals in a more effective manner. And one of the most profound thing these pivots allowed me to do is this process of self discovery, a very clear self awareness of okay, where what are my strengths? And where do I play really well? In what kinds of businesses, industries, cultures, etc? And also what, where do I need to collaborate? Where do I need to seek the right partners. So the outcome of all of this is just this, this, this very inner deep inner sense of knowing my strengths and my weaknesses, embracing it all. And ultimately, you know, just showing up with more accountability, which, quite frankly, I struggled with, for the first half of my professional journey, and I love that I finally embraced it.

Jennifer Dole 03:24
Yeah, I just I hear so much career resilience and what you just shared with us. And, and that’s what I think is the basis for this conversation today is really building that career resilience, so that you can continue in your journey with these pivots and twists and turns. So as we dive into some of the content, what are some of the most important skills that you think are important for navigating this changing job market and building a successful career like you’ve had?

Swati Jain 04:00
Absolutely. So you know, I do want to preface when we think about the job skills, right, the competency that you need to land a job and be successful at a job, those hard skills and soft skills, that those are just table stakes, right? Everybody has those, everybody needs those, and you need those to keep your job to hold on to your job, right. So the areas that I focus on are How would a job and is a job allowing you to build more career agility? Right. So you can take different paths depending on how the market is shifting, and what skills are in more demand versus not so much in demand, right? Which ones have become a commodity versus or Rarity and things like that. So three things I generally recommend and follow even as my personal Grail. One is, you know, building skills that will allow me to become a generalist in addition to a specialist, right, and I’ll dive into each of those. The second is the willingness and the ability to take risks, getting comfortable with taking risks. And the third thing is networking. Hands down very important skill in this day and age, I

Jennifer Dole 05:17
absolutely agree with you. Yeah, one of the most important things. And I would love to learn more about how you approach networking and building meaningful relationships.

Swati Jain 05:29
Absolutely. So let me actually dive into some of the generalist aspects and how that made in my, in my own journey. So you know, when I think of generalist, I think of it more as you know, you got to hone in on whatever area, you’re a specialist, and typically whatever area you ended up with, after college as your first job, and it’s good to hone in some of the specialty areas. But for instance, I started my journey in product management. And then I soon pivoted into program management. And from there, I pivoted into consulting and digital transformation. And with every building block it, it broadened my understanding of the business. Right? So what I recommend is if you are a professional who wants to build more agility in your career path, look for ways in which you can broaden your your connectivity with the business, and how does your specialty fit in the broader context. So if you’re a product manager, maybe look for stretch projects, or collaboration opportunities with product marketing, if you’re a if you’re a technical professional, look for opportunities to help with technical sales, right? These are all great ways to kind of broaden your skill set. And it helps you build confidence as a result of that too.

Jennifer Dole 06:48
I just said, because so often we think about networking as being external to our organization. And you’re really saying the network needs to be also internal to your organization.

Swati Jain 07:05
Absolutely, actually, on the topic of networking, right, how I approach and what I recommend to individuals, some of the fundamental pillars, when you think of network, you have to think of network as both internal and external. Okay. And there are actually three fundamental pillars. As I see, from a networking standpoint, you have to have strategic network, both internal and external to the organization. This is the network that will help you with your upward mobility. Or if you have, you know, if you have interest in becoming an entrepreneur who’s going to help you kind of land your first gig, your first client, etc. So that strategic network is very key, both internal and external to the organization, your internal strategic network is going to allow you to learn some stretch projects, write some special projects. The second element of this network is the operational network. Again, this is the day to day collaboration that you need to be successful in your pursuits. This could be your peers, this could be your team, this could be team members from other groups, internal to the organization, and then also vendors that are external to the organization, very critical. And the third piece of this is the community network, right? This is your community of subject matter experts, whether internal, and also external to the organization. And let’s make sure that you’re not limited by one domain. Right? If you’re a technical professional, look for diversity of even technical skills, right? You might be a front end developer, but do you know anybody who is you know, can you connect with someone who’s a full stack developer? For instance, if you are a professional looking to grow on the leadership track, can you connect with other leaders in the space, right, so make sure there is that diversity of community representation, this could also be based on your interests and hobbies. So you know, some very fundamental areas of networking that you have to cover internal, external, plus strategic, operational and community. The other thing I would mention is that there has to be diversity of gender representation in your network. Absolutely. And actually, according to research, this is where I feel love women lose out who tend to predominantly have network with other women. Hmm. It’s very important to have that diversity.

Jennifer Dole 09:32
So women tend to have diverse networks of women. And the dominant Yes, men tend to have networks of men and women.

Swati Jain 09:46
Yes, it’s more I mean, it’s definitely more concentrated if you think about it. But when you think about the proportion of leaders in corporate, it is even today It is there is there is an imbalance there, right? So if you want to cast a broader net, if you want to expand your potential opportunities on the horizon, both internally and externally, you want to get comfortable with networking comfortably with both genders. Yes, very critical. And this is where I feel this is kind of a blind spot for women. So one area that I emphasize encroach on, very heavily, and I would say, you know, even in my own experience, I realized that around 10 years ago, and my time and tenure and consulting, is really what helped me kind of get out of my own shell and get comfortable with approaching people. And you know, the number one thing is this own this barrier, this mental barrier, that we don’t belong, yeah, right. So a lot of it is you just have to overcome that barrier. And reach out to people ask for help, you’d be surprised how many people would be forthcoming when you ask for help, of course, within reason, and you know, as a professional, and be willing to reciprocate when needed, as well, right? It has to be mutually beneficial. So these are all really core fundamentals of building a healthy network, a network that allows you to grow a network that allows you to continue to build more connections. And I do have a handbook on that which we can, you know, share with our listeners later, which walks through the whole framework, and even kind of, you know, a workbook that helps you identify where your gaps and opportunities maybe

Jennifer Dole 11:35
I would love to share that with everyone, because you’ve got just such great insight. And you’re breaking it down to a place where it’s actionable. So many people are, you know, they they’ve got such a strength in an a unique voice, but they’re afraid of sharing it. Yes, made of networking, afraid of putting themselves out there. So, to have that advice that you’ve got to have a resource is just great.

Swati Jain 12:13

Jennifer Dole 12:15
So what are some of the advice that you can give? Or is there a specific example that you can share? About pivoting in your careers and using your network?

Swati Jain 12:33
Yes, so you know, pivots is something you just have to experiment with, right is generally what I see. And when I talk to professionals, the it’s mental barriers that holds them first of all, so think step number one is you have to get past these mental barriers that you have inflicted upon yourself, it’s really kind of chaining you down. And, you know, in a lot of my coaching Jennifer, it’s so interesting how this comes up repeatedly, is this, this attitude of really high expectations from self, this attitude of absolutism, right, where, which leaves no room for taking risks, which leaves no room for doing things outside of your comfort zone. Some of the most common beliefs, for instance, I hear are, you know, I must be competent at all times. The other ones are, I must avoid situations that allows others to think less of me. The other one is others must not criticize me. And you know, you don’t realize these are subconscious beliefs that are so deep rooted in you, that are just holding you back in life. So a lot of work I do in my coaching is to identify the beliefs that you have about yourself, belief that you have about others, and beliefs that you have about life in general. And you know, kind of reframe, though, so you can approach life from a place of more flexible mindset and not so much absolute mindset. So that’s number one is get, you know, get out of your own way, really, is what it comes down to. Right. But once you have, then, you know, look for how can you continue to build and stack your skills. Right, you have to identify what you already have. And depending on where you’re looking to go, and you know, ultimately, you know, the pursuits you want. If you for instance, want to ultimately aspire to be an entrepreneur someday, you have to get comfortable with sales. You have to get comfortable with approaching people and networking with people and asking for help to give you a chance. Right? So it’s identifying where you want to be and then stacking your skills. As a technical professional like I mentioned earlier, look for opportunities for technical sales. Look for opportunities to help a product manager identify ways to either enterprise market customer gaps, for instance, right? These are all ways that will allow you in your entrepreneurial journey down the road. Right? So it’s, it’s, it starts with, first of all getting out of your own way, getting past your mental barriers. Second, identify the skills that you have, and what skills you need to stack depending on where you’re going. And then, you know, finally, you have to get comfortable with asking for help. Asking for help, taking risks, all those kinds of things. It’s, you know, ultimately it. I truly believe that when we talk about pivots, you just have to get comfortable with a possibility of failure, and even failures teach you a lot about yourself.

Jennifer Dole 15:49
Yep. And failures don’t have to be catastrophic. Doesn’t have to be like, I missed that step. What did I learn?

Swati Jain 15:58
And that’s what, you know, talking to a technical professional, really sharp women knows her chops really well as actually contemplating two different opportunities. And I’m like, Well, which one do you want to pick? And she’s like, you know, I really liked this other one, but I don’t have the skills in that. And I told her, I’m like, Look, let’s differentiate here. You have the skills, you may not have the experience for it. Let’s be clear here, right? But look for the 60 to 70% of your existing skills, and how do you how you approach problem solving, for instance, right? Look for those 60 to 70% of skills that are transferable in the job. And if you’re not going for this next job that is going to stretch, you challenge you in that 30 to 40% zone, then you’re settling, you know, so you just have to continue to stretch your own limits in that capacity.

Jennifer Dole 16:53
Well, I think you and I could continue on this topic for hours. Yes. But we’ve come to the end of our time. And I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing so much information in a short period of time, and offering up some additional resources for people as they’re building their career resilience. So thank you so much.

Swati Jain 17:18
Thank you, Jennifer, again for having me.

Jennifer Dole 17:21
My pleasure. We’ll talk soon.

Swati Jain 17:23
Yes, bye.

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