In this guest post, Yulia Zaytseva, Media & Communication Professional shares a Generation Z perspective on her Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders learning experience.


New professionals often find it hard to navigate the corporate environment. Without experience, corporate politics and etiquette can often make aspiring executives feel like they are taking one step forward and two steps back.

Experts predict Generation Z will work 18 jobs across six careers in their lifetimes[1], so it made sense for me, as one of them, to invest in my professional development and seek my own answers as a new professional.

In 2020, I attended the Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders workshop in Sydney organised by IABC NSW and hosted by Zora Artis, CEO of Artis Advisory and seasoned IABC leader. Knowing Zora from previous IABC events, I simply couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn from her expertise in the communication industry.

Lesson 1: Aim for the moon and you will reach the stars

Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders training participants took on the role of Carmen Spinoza, Communication Director at Globocorp, a fictional multi-national organisation. Even though Carmen’s position was much more senior than mine, I saw great value in exposing myself to various high-level challenges she had to face as a leadership team member.

Junior staff members don’t usually get a chance to sit in strategic sessions, so taking part in Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders can teach a lot about the nature of boardroom decision-making, strategic thinking, and corporate networking.

The insights and experience we get from such training sessions and talking to more senior workshop participants can help as we advance in our careers.

Lesson 2: We look forward to the “ladders,” but it’s the “snakes” that create life’s greatest opportunities

Mastering the art of informed decision-making and maximising the options available to us is essential to success.

Our decisions are significantly impacted by the environment, such as workplace culture, work colleagues, leadership structure, etc. In the game, like most things in life, we win or lose points with every decision we make because every decision has its own set of consequences.

Experienced communication advisers are good at managing risks and calibrating their decisions based on the current climate, facts, and data, while also following ethical communication standards.

Participating in simulation activities can be beneficial for practicing calculated decision-making. When we impersonate a fictional character, we are exposed to new ideas, different situations, and unfamiliar scenarios that challenge us and push us to think outside the box.

Lesson 3: Thinking two, three, four steps ahead

Strategic thinking is one of the most valuable skills communicators can have. Pausing to think strategically before acting will pay off time and again. Strategy underpins all good decisions, whether it’s mapping out a global communication campaign, manoeuvring corporate politics to achieve career progression, or living a balanced, happy, and fulfilled life.

Planning one move at a time is fine for beginners, but if you want to work with the best in the industry and climb the career ladder, you need to be able to plan two, three steps ahead and adapt your strategy on the fly when things don’t work out as planned. That’s what Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders training helps you to practice.

The game challenges you to bring the bigger corporate picture into focus to make strategic recommendations that help you gain reputation points with the executive team and position yourself and your team in the best possible situation to win. Mastering these skills in real life will ultimately help you advance your career and gain recognition as a truly strategic adviser.

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