BWX Technologies COO Shares 7 Hacks for Career Success Written 27 July 2016

Speaker: Rex Geveden, chief operating officer, BWX Technologies Inc

by Hannah Godofsky, AIAA Communications

Rex Geveden, chief operating officer, BWX Technologies Inc. delivers remarks on, "Seven Career Hacks for Professional Success," on 27 June, at AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2016, taking place 25–27 July in Salt Lake City.

Rex Geveden, the chief operating officer of BWX Technologies Inc., shared some advice in the “Seven Career Hacks for Professional Success” session July 27 at the 2016 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Salt Lake City.

Career Hack 1: Draft and track your career goals.

It’s old advice, but there’s a reason it’s repeated so often: It works, Geveden said.

Geveden shared that he began working at a firm after college and stayed for about two years but years later, he returned to run the company.

“In my opinion, there’s a thousand doors out there in the universe that you can walk through, and there’s some of them that lead to opportunity and some of them that do not,” he said.

Career Hack 2: Know what you are in the organization. 

“When you’re trying to figure out what to do with your career, you have to figure out what you are,” Geveden said, adding that there’s a dichotomy between revenue-generating versus cost-sink job roles. “If you wish to be where the decision-making is and where the money flows, then you need to get in the line.”

Career Hack 3: Understand how you create value in the organization. 

There are some things on an employee’s to-do list that create value for an organization and some that don’t, Geveden said, explaining that people have to do all of the things on their lists but know that not all of them create value.

“I created another list a few years ago that’s sort of a value-creation list and created a list of actions with those so that I can create value every day while I’m in the job,” he said.

Career Hack 4: Learn to say yes. 

“I think you should learn to say yes to the point of discomfort,” Geveden said, adding that it can be a good learning experience and result in career opportunities that might not have otherwise occurred.

He also said it’s important to say yes to mobility despite the tendency to want to stay home. If you get a chance to go someplace else, Geveden said, take it.

“Your family will grow with it,” he said.

Career Hack 5: You must read, and you must read all the time. 

Geveden said engineers need to read publications like Forbes, Bloomberg or The Economist to be able to understand how business and finance people think. 

Career Hack 6: Work on your integrity.

“If you tell someone that you’re going to call them, call them,” Geveden said. “You’re building yourself a portfolio of trust with everyone with whom you interact. ... Casual commitments are commitments.”

Career Hack 7: Invest in your wardrobe.

Geveden said people should buy nice clothes and nice shoes but that buying expensive labels isn’t the only important aspect.

“Fit is the first principle of style,” he said, emphasizing that style is particularly important for engineers or anyone with ambition.

“I know it sounds not-essential, but here’s the point: I’d say almost everybody in this room is a technical person ... But there’s a bunch of smart people out there,” he said. “You have to find things that are differentiating. And I think it can be differentiating.

“The way you look creates an impression about how you think about yourself,” Geveden explained.

Even with evolving standards about what constitutes professional dress, Geveden believes that style will remain important.

“If it’s casual Friday, be snappy casual ... instead of using that opportunity to wear flip-flops into work.”


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