Climbing the Corporate Lattice

My Grandfather was a high-power executive at an American manufacturing and engineering company. He was one of my role models; I thought if I could have at least half of the professional success he had, I would too be a successful businesswoman. Upon receiving my first full-time job offer with Sony Music, I asked for any words of wisdom and advice he was willing to share. He told me to always work hard, find passion in what I do, and to climb the corporate ladder.

This advice initially seemed to make sense–my Grandfather put in years of service to his company and was rewarded with an executive salary and retirement at the end of his career. However, four  years into my career with Sony Music I saw a shift; from the corporate ladder to the corporate lattice.

Older employees who had spent years climbing the ladder were being laid off or became “stuck”. Younger employees were taking advantage of a multitude of opportunities throughout the company, zig-zagging versus climbing; taking one step back to take two steps forward; making a lateral move to take advantage of a new opportunity. At the time I didn’t know what to call it, however thanks to Deloitte I now have a name.

Why am I sharing this information with you? Because as a college student, it is important to understand that the world of work is changing. The shift from ladder to lattice means that your career path (generally speaking) will be different then your parents…and that’s okay.

The corporate lattice model will have an impact on how you construct your career, how you work, and how you balance career and life. Your career path will be multidirectional versus linear, which will hopefully provide you with many rich professional experiences.

Embrace the shift from ladder to lattice, and use this new way of navigating the workplace to your advantage. Sometimes a lateral move can be the best way to build your personal brand.

What are your thoughts on this new model? Do you think it will open up more career paths for you as future professionals?


Heather serves as a Career Advisor for Loyola University Chicago’s Career Development Center. In her role, she assists students and alumni with their overall career development through individual counseling, group workshops, and in the classroom via her Career and Life Planning Lab. Heather’s areas of expertise within the career space include networking, social media engagement, ePortfolios, resumes, and personal branding. Prior to working in Career Services, Heather worked for Sony Music in the areas of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion.She received her BA in Communication & Culture from Indiana University and her MA in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University – GO BUCKS! You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Finding the Corporate Fit
  2. Job Hopping, Corporate Style
  3. Strategic Planning for Career Success: The Personal SWOT Analysis

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