Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ePortfolios for Managing Oneself and Portfolio Careers

On Monday and Tuesday, I attended a Conference on Advising Highly Talented Undergraduates, held at Notre Dame University. On the first day, Dr. Richard Light of Harvard University provided the opening keynote address on the Challenges for Advising Highly Talented Undergraduates. He mentioned an article by Peter Drucker entitled, "Managing Oneself" published in the Harvard Business Review in 1999. I found several copies of the article through an iPhone Google search, and downloaded it. The purpose for the article struck a cord with me:
“Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves
– their strengths, their values, and how best they perform.”
We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: If you've got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out. 
But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren't managing their employees' careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. It's up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during a work life that may span some 50 years. To do those things well, you'll need to cultivate a deep understanding of yourself-- not only what your strengths and weaknesses are but also how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and where you can make the greatest contribution. Because only when you operate from strengths can you achieve true excellence.
Here is where an ePortfolio can provide an ongoing environment where individuals can develop and manage their own personal SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). The article contains the following sections:
  • What are my strengths?
  • How do I perform?
  • What are my values?
  • Where do I belong?
  • What should I contribute?
  • Responsibility for Relationships
  • The Second Half of your Life
I can see a powerful purpose for ePortfolios: managing knowledge workers' career development, from high school through late career. There is another opportunity: managing "portfolio careers." As I was preparing for my closing keynote at this conference, I explored websites that focused on Portfolio Careers:
I also found this video that encapsulated some of the key elements of portfolio careers:
Next Generation Journalist: Nick Williams from Adam Westbrook on Vimeo.

"Today, security means being employable, even if you don't have a job." The speaker talks about the concept of personal branding: "everyone needs to know what they are uniquely brilliant at… what they're passionate about, what they love doing, and what they're good at doing, and then finding people who want to hire them at that.

Slides for my keynote presentation are posted on Slideshare.


Barrie Hopson said...

I am somewhat biased as I have just written a book on portfolio careers, “And What Do You Do?: 10 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career”, A&C Black. What my co-author, Katie Ledger and I have found from interviewing a large selection of portfolio workers is that hardly any would even consider returning to what I call a single track career. They actually report feeling more secure in a recession as they are not reliant on only one job. Attitudes towards this growing phenomenon amongst employers are proving fascinating. Even the CBI in a recent report say that our concepts of work and employment are going to have to change with organisations relying more on a small core workforce supplemented by an army of temporary or project workers. Portfolio workers typically are self motivated, self starters and reliable. They have to be as they will not survive unless they are excellent time managers and organisers. They will be increasingly attractive as employees. We are just beginning a programme of interviewing a wide range of employers to check out their attitudes to this growing group of workers. We reckon that there are already over a million of us. Yes – we are portfolio workers too! Follow our project on

Mike Morrison said...

A SWOT Analysis can be a powerful tool within the personal development field, esp when developing an e-portfolio, However many people using SWOT do so, so superficially that it often misses key factors.
Using frameworks like PRIMO-F for SW (controllable factors) and PEST for OT (external & largely un controllable factors) helps to ensure a SWOT is at leased soundly reviewed.

While there are an increasingly large number of "portfolio workers" I have seen a reduction in the use of e-portfolios for personal development - I am not convinced people do this outside a structured learning or tightly controlled business environment.

Caitlin said...

In this internet generation, I believe it is pretty important for anyone who is looking for a job to build their online portfolios. This way, it will be easier for employers to find them whenever they needed to find more information. Just like in any business, you have to know how to sell yourself and online visibility is just as important. Leadership Development