Ten Steps Up the C-Suite Ladder



By Travis Jones – CEO of Career Development Partners

The first Human Resource conference I attended in the Printearly 90’s was titled “How to gain a seat at the table.”  For over a quarter of a century this has been a dream for most HR professionals and others trying to have impact in the organization’s core strategies and decision-making processes. The seat at the table is elusive, but all of us can have influence and it involves some purposeful ladder climbing techniques.

A ten-step strategy to put you on course to capture the seat this year – this is your year!
  1. Rung one – Master the essentials of your chosen industry. If HR, then become technically proficient in culture, comp, compliance, hiring, on-boarding etc.
  2. Rung two – Develop an executive presence. Not just seen physically, but actively contributing in the social media and internet space that the C-suite frequents.  Read what they read, comment on what they read, and share what you have learned.
  3. Rung three – Learn to crunch the numbers with analytics and data on matters the C-suite has an interest in. Include events that impact the bottom line like turnover, benefits as compared to competitors, employee surveys, client satisfaction scores, attraction etc.
  4. Rung four – Invest in your skills by taking a course in project management. Volunteer to take a company project from beginning to the end and this will get you noticed.
  5. Rung five – Continued education and certification, including a MBA, to give yourself credibility that you understand the moving parts of a successful business.
  6. Rung six – Know your organization through and through and why your business works the way it does. Involve yourself in departmental discussions to learn what each area is dealing with in conjunction to its impact on the strategic vision of the company.
  7. Rung seven – Numerous positions, including human resources, are considered as cost centers within an organization. Think clearly about making your role a revenue generator. Your value to the C-suite will go up exponentially if you understand what you bring to the table.
  8. Rung eight – Do not isolate yourself from your employees, rather build strong relationships by listening to others, respond thoughtfully and offer suggestions that encourage collaboration.
  9. Rung nine – Find a mentor or someone more advanced in their career and watch them as they build relationships and provide value to their organization.
  10. Rung ten – The instance you have moved to the level of influence you desire, contribute, contribute and then contribute some more.

You must become skilled at the language of the C-suite.  What do they deal with?  M & A, industry language, know what success looks like to this select group you have managed to climb into the bunk with and know the space that you own and why you are the expert.  You are a contributor and that’s what the C-Suite is looking for to join the table.

The next several posts will go into deeper detail on each rung.  Share with me additional rungs that you feel are necessary to take you to the top of your organization in the comments section.


Please call my office for a free one hour consultation. 

Travis Jones

Travis Jones


Travis has been an entrepreneur and business owner in Tulsa for over 30 years. He is a well-known community servant and is dedicated to providing world-class service for everyone we encounter.Travis is a certified Life Options Retirement Coach and is certified to facilitate and deliver the Manager As Coach Learning Series (MACLS) through CPI. He serves on the board of Career Partners International (CPI) and is an equity partner in CPI, offering a global reach with over 220 offices.

Prior to Career Development Partners, Travis served as President of Personnel Consultants, a professional staffing and placement company which consisted of 6 offices located in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Under his leadership, Personnel Consultants was the recipient of Inc. Magazine’s Award for the 135th fastest growing privately held business in America in addition to being named by Oklahoma Business Monthly as one of the best companies to work for in Oklahoma. He sold the company in October 2005 to PeopleLink Staffing and purchased Career Development Partners in November 2005.

Travis serves on the Elder Board at Tulsa Bible Church, on the board of New Life Ranch and is a proud member of Tulsa Executives Association (TEA) and is active with several other organizations serving the community and beyond.

Email: travis@cdpartnersinc.com

Travis Jones - CEO of Career Development Partners

Written By Travis Jones

Travis has been an entrepreneur and business owner in Tulsa for over 30 years. He is a well-known community servant and is dedicated to providing world-class service for everyone we encounter at Career Development Partners.

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