Ebru Sznapkova: "We are so busy with execution that we have very little time left for strategy"

Ebru Sznapkova is the co-founder of Prague Training Academy and a transformational coach, trainer, and consultant.

Ebru Sznapkova is the co-founder of Prague Training Academy and a transformational coach, trainer, and consultant. During her senior leadership experience at leading corporates, she established high-performing international teams and organization departments for clients like Oracle, eBay, Cisco, and Ikea. Ebru is also behind the creation of the first Get Back to Work Training for mothers coming to work after maternity leave. Her passion for her work is infectious and inspires you to not only learn more about your undiscovered ambitions but also to help others grow. We spoke to Ebru about personal and career growth and the importance of strategizing your moves for maximum impact. Her answers were fascinating but most importantly, help you broaden your perspective on your own personal work journey.

Ebru, can you tell us what role does personal branding play in career growth?

Personal branding has a significant role in career growth. Your personal brand talks on behalf of you. This is how your colleagues, managers, and even their managers recognize you. It represents you at the management meetings where team performances are being reviewed, promotions are being discussed.  The way your brand is perceived either opens the doors or closes the opportunities. It describes who you are including your history as well as your potential.

Your personal brand is your invisible but most recognized business card within and outside the organization. I would suggest any professional who has plans for growth to start with building and maintaining a solid personal brand in the business.

We often talk about finding your “Why” and “How”. How are they useful?

"Why" and "How" are not just useful; they are vital for clear progress in life. Not only in career progression but in every aspect of your life. Why and how will always clarify your direction and path. This is my favorite topic and part of our Leadership Academy fundamentals course. Your WHY is your North Star.  Your HOW shows you the clear path following your north star.

During my senior management role, I have worked with many team leaders and first-line managers. One of the clear identifiers of the candidate for any leadership role is not that they are very experienced and successful in the field but they have a clear vision that represents their why and how. If we talk about growth in any direction it is vital to represent your WHY and HOW for success.

WHY also brings the inspiration in place. It fuels the actions, drives the behavior. I am a strong believer in WHY and if you have a WHY in life then you will always find the HOW.

Networking and relationships can play a key role in our career development. Is there such thing as Relationship management and how can we use it to our advantage?

Yes, indeed. This is one of our upcoming workshops. Networking and relationships always open new ways, new opportunities. I believe in the strong impact of networking. Unfortunately, this was the biggest struggle of the employees working from home during the pandemic lockdowns. The ones who successfully established solid networks and developed good relations could maintain it easier while some struggled a lot developing new contacts, extending their network since they lack face-to-face contact.  

Networking and relationship management is a style of living. You may never know which of your contacts from your network could be your next manager or client. Network means accessibility. Your network helps you to extend your enrich. However, there is one golden rule in relationship management. We all must be authentic to maintain and develop the relations. I have seen so many "beneficial relationships" that ended in a short time since people didn’t establish real relationships.

Do we need a personal development plan in our career?

If we want to grow, yes! We all need a personal development plan which gives a conscious self-management and owning the responsibility of self-growth. It sends a clear message that we are in charge of our own development. It shows we are ready to grow. We can see objectively what areas of growth require action to achieve our goals.

Unfortunately, the perception of using personal development plans is only part of performance reviews and still, many managers take it as a waste of time since the tool is not used as it is supposed to be at most organizations. This is a great tool to support employee development, a clear roadmap to success and growth rather than a task to be fulfilled before the yearly reviews. As I always mention, we all are so busy with execution that we almost have very little time left for strategy. The personal development plans for me are part of a personal growth strategy.

I strongly suggest every employee take time for self-reflection and prepare a solid development plan that could be a basis for their bigger part of career growth and success goals rather than job success.

What are some of the core skills a person needs to grow their career?

Skills are very important for career growth. However, let me mention that mindset is vital for success. A growth mindset is key if we are talking about growth! A growth mindset helps individuals to notice, create, develop new opportunities, and drives action for success. A growth mindset is a learned skill of the mind.

Let's look at some of the core skills a person needs to grow their career now:

Advanced communication skills help us to understand the people we interact with and convey easily the message we would like to share with them. Communication skills are vital for clear self-expression, delivering great presentations, and understanding the needs that we would like to overcome through the services/products we deliver.

Adaptability is a very vital skill for success. If there is one thing that will never change is the change in life. Adaptability shows the maturity of the person as well.

Work ethics is a must business skill. It is proven that people lacking professionalism and work ethic have a short span of life in the success field. There is no long-term career progression where there is no professional act and work ethic.

Self Confidence and Courage are solid drivers of action, representation, and decision making. People with high self-confidence take initiatives proactively, stand for theirs and their team`s rights.

Teamwork. No success was built alone. The ability to be a good team player is another vital skill for success.

On top of these skills, leading without title, being able to see the big picture, being aware of small details, being good at problem-solving will all bring you success in career growth.

Can mentorship/coaching help in the pursuit of career growth?

Yes, of course. Both mentorship and coaching are very valuable tools in the pursuit of career growth. A mentor helps his mentees with career growth by transferring their own knowledge and experience. The mentor guides the mentee.

A coach helps the coachee to clarify his way to success via thought-provoking coaching conversations. Coaching is more focused on uncovering the full potential of the coachee.

Mentorship and coaching are different practices. However, many organizations still mix these two terms. The main difference is mentor transfers the information of experience and the knowledge while the coach enables the person to uncover their potential to perform and achieve his goals. A coach helps the coachee to discover their strengths and evaluate challenges, and each coaching conversation focuses on the coachee. Mentorship is a longer-term relationship than coaching since coaching is more results-focused practice.                                                                                                                  

At our Prague International School of Coaching at Academy, we train professional coaches with international coaching standards, practices, and ethics. We run successful coaching practices that enable the coachee to achieve the performance they desire in their professional career. We also run mentorship programs that help enable mentees to achieve growth in their business. The most suitable program is selected based on the core needs, the desired outcome they would like to achieve.