The lost art of sticking around and rising through the ranks

The international pandemic has prompted many to rethink their skilled lives, what makes them comfortable and how they spend their time. In what’s being dubbed the Nice Resignation, tens of millions of folks are actually quitting or altering their jobs—or not less than excited about it.

COVID-19 apart, an ideal storm of causes explains the more and more wandering labor power: the ease with which employees and potential employers can discover each other over the web, the improve in distant working that removes geographical tethers, the disappearance of defined-benefit pensions that rewarded longevity, and the emergence of the gig economic system. Even earlier than the Nice Resignation, the median quantity of years that employees spent with one employer was a mere 4.2, in accordance with U.S. authorities statistics.

It’s been advised that repeatedly altering jobs fulfills a primary human want and that the single-company profession mannequin of previous many years was extra an exception, psychologically talking, than a rule. Or maybe persons are merely extra stressed and much less loyal than they was?


All of which makes me an anomaly.

I joined Juniper Networks in 1997 as worker quantity 32 (there are actually greater than 10,000 of us). At the moment, Invoice Clinton was beginning his second time period as President. One gallon of gasoline value $1.19. Bruce Willis nonetheless had hair and mine was nonetheless a darkish brown relatively than the present salt and pepper.

Apart from one different tech agency the place I labored for a 12 months between acquiring my undergraduate and graduate levels, I’ve spent my whole profession at Juniper. I began as the most junior engineer in the agency and I believe that what compelled administration to offer me a shot was the want to seek out any individual that will do the mundane work that the extra senior technical expertise didn’t wish to. After a collection of promotions and 17 years at the firm, I used to be named CEO in 2014.

As the workforce has grown extra flighty, homegrown CEOs are more and more uncommon. Even with just a few notable examples—akin to Doug McMillon of Walmart, who began as a summer season affiliate making $6.50 an hour; Richard Fain of Royal Caribbean Cruises, who’s been at the firm for 33 years; and Citigroup’s Michael Corbat who spent 37 years at the financial institution earlier than retiring in February—the record is tiny.

As the years have piled up, I’ve performed a fantastic deal of excited about my journey. In the starting, I didn’t plan to stay with one group for therefore lengthy, nor was I aiming for the nook workplace. But, all of it occurred. Why? How? And what observations and recommendation would I supply others about what it takes to outlive and thrive in a single firm for therefore lengthy, even in tumultuous instances?

Select the proper firm

That is apparent, however it must be mentioned: For those who’re going to remain married to 1 firm, ensure it’s an organization you like. It should supply a variety and variety of experiences, alternatives for ever-more attention-grabbing obligations and, final however not least, have a mission, tradition, and company values you imagine in along with your coronary heart.


With out these foundational parts, the danger of becoming bored or struggling burnout is excessive. With them, the firm can begin to really feel like a house.

You don’t want a five-year plan

Over the years, many have coached me to develop an expert plan with short- and long-term targets and methods to realize them. I’ve by no means had one and you may not want one both.

I by no means set my sights on the CEO chair. That doesn’t imply I wasn’t formidable, however my aspirations didn’t lie with profitable this or that promotion as half of an imagined profession arc. Reasonably, what drove me was merely getting the alternative to work on ever-more-important and intellectually stimulating initiatives and to have a seat at the desk the place consequential selections have been being made.

I figured if I did a fantastic job in every new function, the relaxation would take care of itself. And it did! So, toss the five-year plan and simply get to work.


In his e book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things,  Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ben Horowitz wrote, “every time I meet a profitable CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs level to their sensible strategic strikes or their intuitive enterprise sense or a spread of different self-congratulatory explanations. The nice CEOs are typically remarkably constant of their solutions. All of them say, ‘I didn’t give up.’”

I’ve labored with some unimaginable folks all through my profession who have been equally, if no more, formidable than me, however who lacked the endurance and grit to stay out the powerful instances. I’ve a cussed persona that causes me to dig in my heels when the going will get powerful (some would say to a fault) and to show the skeptics fallacious. I’m not suggesting this makes me nice. I’m saying unshakeable perseverance could be a highly effective ingredient to seeing your profession develop and attaining your full potential in any group.

Disrupt or be disrupted

An enormous potential pitfall of the single-company profession mannequin is that you would be able to fall right into a consolation zone and get stale. To attain long-term success with one employer, you have to not ever enable your self to get comfy.

I began at Juniper as a person contributor, then took on growing engineering obligations. From there, I pivoted to product administration, rose through a number of common supervisor positions and, lastly, turned CEO. I readily admit that I’ve by no means felt 100% prepared for that subsequent profession step. However I by no means let that cease me from taking over that subsequent problem, studying new expertise and testing my potential to succeed at new and ever-increasing ranges of accountability.

I’m a scholar of Andy Grove and a giant believer that solely the paranoid survive. In an especially fast-paced and aggressive trade like tech, it is advisable get up daily considering “disrupt or be disrupted.” You must get used to the discomfort of fixed butterflies in your abdomen and at all times be open to vary.

Consolation means inevitable loss of life to a high-tech firm. It will also be the biggest inhibitor to your profession.

Keep away from myopia

Lengthy-time firm veterans have institutional information—they perceive the group deeply, how work truly will get performed, the place the skeletons are hidden, and many others. The doable hazard, of course, is the myopia that may come from being half of the system for therefore lengthy.


Leaders on this place should be conscious of the danger of myopia and intentionally and actively struggle it. It’s necessary to encompass your self with groups which have a wholesome stability of veterans and newer folks with contemporary, exterior views. It additionally helps to construct a robust and various community of professionals exterior your organization.

Sure, the single-company profession is turning into nearly unheard of, however I’ve discovered it may be richly rewarding—in the event you’re conscious of what it takes to succeed. Name me a proud member of the Nice Non-Resignation.

Rami Rahim is CEO of Juniper Networks. The firm develops and markets networking merchandise, together with routers, switches, community administration software program, community safety merchandise, and software-defined networking know-how.