I just read Businessweek’s September 15th article, “The Best Places to Launch a Career.” It listed accounting firms and the government as two of the top three. Did we just step into upside-down-world? Bureaucrats and bean-counters made the top spots? Really? Both of these groups are like coroners: they can’t tell you much about how to stay healthy, but they are great at telling you what killed the body and who’s to blame.

If accounting and government are the launching pads, what are the space shuttle destinations?

Here are my picks for “Best Places to Launch a Career”…

Service Businesses – Growth oriented companies that are problem-solving driven, where demonstrated performance is the measure of success and sets the speed of your advancement- more than education or connections. Logistics and distribution clients of ours are great examples of places where sharp people with some steam in their strides have advanced quickly- more money, bigger challenges and a seat at the table early in their careers all followed a young employee’s strong performance.

Manufacturing – Yeah, about as exciting as commodity trading white flour, I know- but here’s the game- global sourcing, integrated solutions over components, supply-chain management players- even in the Tier 2 position- these types of companies have lots of room, lots of challenges and the entire game board’s colors are changing- which opens up the field a lot. You want to check out a couple of things – the company you are looking at needs to have greater than 15% international revenue, needs to be in at least an early-adopter position on technology as a company philosophy and must be targeting growth north of 10% sustained year-over-year for 3 years for the opportunity to be real.

Creative – Pick your palette and your canvas – Advertising, marketing, digital strategy, media creation, communication, and so on- you probably don’t need me to tell you that this is where the action is steamy- The fact is that it is as hot as it looks. It is also unstable, like surfing lava- but we have a number of clients in this space and their people are sharp, at the table early in their careers and making a difference. The abilities to move at speed, solve big problems, manage multiple relationships/alliances/partnerships simultaneously are the kinds of launch pad skills for great lives and powerful careers.

Tell me about your industry. What makes it a great launch pad for a career? We have to save the talent from believing that the government or the Big 4 are the right places to land: Save the talent, Save the world. Go Heroes!

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