What Qualities Really Define A Business Leader Post Pandemic?

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article |Petrochemical Business|8 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader Within Your Petrochemical BusinessThe seismic effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic have impacted every single aspect of our lives, with the workplace and commerce in general changing unrecognisably in the space of just a few months. As workplaces transform and adapt in an effort to overcome the unique challenges they’re facing, so too do business leaders have to change and grow in order to remain effective. The pandemic has clearly shown us that leadership is much needed, and as the future continues to be uncertain, it will matter even more as we try to salvage an economic and social recovery. The right leadership has become a matter of life and death – quite literally in a lot of cases – and strong and intelligent leaders are now required to manage fractured supply chains, piece together industries and revive customer confidence. So, what are the key traits of successful leadership in a post pandemic world?


You may have never thought of empathy as a key trait of a successful leader. But really, the pandemic has been a collective trauma for everyone, so displaying an understanding of that is absolutely crucial. Empathy can be displayed towards your own staff and also to society in general, modelling yourself after leaders such as Joz Opdeweegh who have called for support in society to combat the worst effects of the pandemic. Implementing Employee Assistance Programs and making sure they’re functioning effectively is a must, as is providing genuine support and encouragement to staff. You may need to also review some of your HR policies, especially around areas such as sick leave, dependents leave and access to counselling. If you fear that you lack natural empathy, make sure to surround yourself with others on your organization that do – you need to avoid any responses that may be seen as tone deaf or insensitive, as you could really damage employee morale and loyalty at a critical time.


One of the things causing such distress for a lot of people is the lack of consistency that the pandemic has brought – rules changing overnight, conditions escalating rapidly. No one likes to live with continuing uncertainty, so it’s our role as leaders to provide consistency with our approach. Always base your decisions and communications on data. Making data-driven decisions removes emotion and bias from the equation and allows you to explain your decision making. Communicate clearly and frequently, even if there aren’t many new items to relay. This gives staff a sense of confidence and a knowledge that they can rely on your updates, and it doesn’t create a void for gossip and speculation to fill.


This ability definitely needs to become part of your professional development goals.
The ability to pivot is more vital than ever, as customer needs, supply changes and the economic landscape around us all shift rapidly. Responsiveness will begin to define those companies who are able to thrive and those which are devastated. Review new information and circumstances constantly in order to incorporate them into your decision making.

What Are the Organizational Benefits of Professional Development?

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | What Are the Organizational Benefits of Professional Development?Hearing the phrase “professional development” makes some people squirm, others roll their eyes, and a few actually listen candidly. There’s often a misconception that managers who suggest some type of professional development to their employees actually suggest it because of poor performance, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Professional development is a great way for people at all levels of an organization to hone in on what exactly they want their career path to look like and gives them the opportunity to experiment with new tools that might help them to get there. There are many different avenues of professional development, but some common types include seminars, workshops, conferences, career conversations, job shadowing, and online courses.

The Benefits of Professional Development

If you’re reading this and thinking, “as much as I’d like to offer these types of programs at my organization, it just sounds a bit time consuming and expensive,” then consider the many benefits:

Long-Term Money Savings

As the tried-and-true sales saying goes, it costs more money to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones. The same goes for people within an organization.

It is important to note, however, that poor employee development (unorganized structure, prioritizing high performers over the whole, etc.) will cost more time and money than no development at all. So if you’re going to go in, go ALL in.

There’s No “I” In Success

Some people enjoy the monotony of knowing exactly what their tasks are for the day, how long it will take to complete them, getting them done successfully, and doing it all again tomorrow. Others like a challenge—setting higher goals and aiming for the moon. By understanding the unique motivations of your employees you can tailor a different professional development plan for each individual. Skilled managers should strive to foster their employees’ development because when your employees are successful, then everyone is successful. By creating professional development plans, you can combat complacency and build teams from simply competent to excelling in no time.

Improve Company Culture

Company culture may seem like a cliche buzzword, but it still holds a lot of value to today’s labor force. As of 2019, 46% of job seekers say company culture is very important when applying for a specific role.

Now more than ever, employees are worried about crafting a sustainable career with a company that has values closely aligned with their own.

Initiate Professional Development Conversations With Employees

“But how do I go about starting the conversation on employee development,” you ask? It’s simple, talk to your team and discuss your motivation for wanting to start a development program. If you’re in a hybrid or remote work environment, you can easily set up a video conference call and begin asking questions to get the team thinking about how they would like to see their role expand.

One great question to ask your team is: “How can being an employee here help you become the person you want to be?” It shifts the perspective from “what” you would be (your duties in a role) to “who” you would be (emphasizing you as an individual.) Unlocking your team’s core values will help you further understand their goals as well as new ways you can help support their success. After all, contributing to meaningful work is the number one reason employees choose to stay in their current positions.

Foster Professional Development During COVID-19

It might be daunting to talk to your employees about their careers in the midst of a pandemic, but, nonetheless, these are still important conversations to have. It’s vital to utilize a secure network option to ensure your line of communication is private and confidential. Other tools like learning management systems make it easier to track employees progress with special e-learning courses unique to the company.

You can test the waters of your development plan by checking in on your remote employees often, and making sure they know that you’re accessible, even if it’s only over Zoom. You can also encourage their success by highlighting them in larger team meetings.

After getting a feel for the areas your employees have expressed interest in, try introducing them to other people in the company that have experience in those areas. Professional development doesn’t have to be only hard skills—it can also include soft skills such as networking or public speaking.

Hiring An SEM Expert: What Skill Set To Look For

SEM experts are in high demand. Not surprising, given the tremendous growth rate of e-commerce.

In 2018, about 1.8 billion people across the world bought goods online. E-retail sales in 2018 amounted to US$ 2.8 trillion.

B2B (business to business) online sales in 2018 were almost 4 times higher than e-retail. The gross merchandise volume (GMV) of B2B e-commerce in 2018 amounted to US$ 10.6 trillion.

It’s a huge market when we take B2B and B2C online sales together.

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article | Hiring An SEM Expert: What Skill Set To Look For

Ranking by Total E-Commerce Volume 2017: Source

This growth in e-commerce has also fueled the demand for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) experts. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 20% growth in the demand for SEM experts between 2018 and 2028.

What Does An SEM Expert Do?

The core job of an SEM expert has not changed, however. An SEM expert has the responsibility of improving the SERP ranking of a business webpage.

In jargon-free terms, the company website must appear towards the top of a search engine results page (SERP). That’s what an SEM expert needs to ensure. At the heart of SEM is a company’s SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.

The SEO strategy, in turn, involves the following:

  • Keyword research and implementation
  • Content strategy planning and implementation
  • Link building
  • Web marketing with analytics

Categories of Digital Marketing Strategies

Digital marketing can be of three types, at least:

  • Organic: Your business webpage automatically appears towards the top of SERP
  • Pay Per Click (PPC): A paid marketing campaign where you pay the platform every time your ad gets clicked
  • Paid Directory Listing: You pay to be included in a web directory relevant for your business

An SEM expert needs to have the skills necessary to plan, implement, manage, assess, and restrategize as and when necessary, for each of these three categories.

The Skill-Set An SEM Expert Must Have

Two distinct sets of skills are necessary: technical skills and soft skills. Technical skills refer to the specific capacities needed to efficiently and effectively execute what a job position demands. Soft skills are generic skills that determine how effectively a person can work in any position.

Technical Skills

1. Thorough Knowledge of SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) is the foundation of SEM. Without SEO, there is no SEM. An in-depth understanding of how SEO works in different search engines is a non-negotiable skill for an SEM expert.


Thorough SEO expertise involves the following:

  • Up-to-date knowledge about search engine algorithms for ranking: This is a critical element as search engines keep changing their algorithms. The mode of search engine rankings changes accordingly.
  • How to blend quality content with keywords: This is pivotal to improving organic ranking. It is equally essential for PPC campaigns to be effective. Merely using the researched keywords is not enough.

A seamless blending of the relevant keywords with attractive content is what works. Search engines like Google are smart enough to reject content that focuses only on the keywords.

  • Comprehensive understanding of offsite SEO: Everything that you and others do away from your site to improve the ranking of your website is offsite SEO.

A critical element in offsite SEO is building links to your page. Google, the most-used search engine, depends on links to determine how relevant your content is. Writing blog posts and guest articles on other sites are methods of link building.

The SEM expert does not need to write. But they need to have technical information like using critical keywords towards the beginning of a post for effective linking. This is necessary to guide copywriters to produce content that works.

2. PPC Management Skill

PPC (pay per click) campaigns are the paid counterpart of driving organic traffic to your webpage. The aim is the same: improving the SERP ranking of your website. Therefore, all the skills needed for SEO are relevant.

However, PPC campaigns involve financial investments. To ensure high returns on investment (RoI), its management needs additional skills as well. Focus on the following when you hire your PPC campaign manager:

  • Marketing Skills including a basic understanding of consumer behavior, consumer segmentation, and trend analysis of targeted consumers.
  • Planning and Time Management to determine how long a PPC campaign should continue, how often the content needs tweaking, etc.
  • Monitoring, Reviewing, and Adapting skills are critical to efficiently and effectively manage PPC campaigns.

B3. asic Knowledge of Programming Languages

The ability to use CSS and to write in HTML is essential for an SEM expert. Some technical understanding of web design is also critical. Without a basic understanding of how websites work, efficient and effective SEM is impossible.

An SEM expert needs to understand technology from the user perspective to be effective.

4. Ability to Work with Data Analytics

Analyzing the numbers and making sense of the statistics are necessary to understand the general trends in relevant search patterns. These become even more critical with paid ad campaigns.

5. Copywriting and Copyediting

The SEM expert need not be directly responsible for generating the content. Without a creative understanding of what works and what does not, it is impossible to guide and refine the content to match SEO needs.

6. Social Media Management

Social media platforms continue to play an increasingly more important role in influencing consumer behaviors. A recent report mentions that 54% of social media users research products on these platforms.

No SEM expert can do their job competently without social media management skills.


Soft Skills Critical For An SEM Expert

Soft skills refer to competencies that are non-technical, yet critical for effective functioning in nearly any role. For an SEM expert, the must-have soft skills include the following, without being limited to them.

1. Curiosity and the Willingness to Learn

Stagnation of thought is a killer for any marketing position. An SEM expert is ultimately a crucial component in your marketing wheel. The quality of being a lifelong learner is essential.

That presupposes a curious bent of mind, in turn. Without it, an SEM expert would fail to engage in research, which forms an indispensable part of their job.

2. Analytical Skills

Working with data analytics is a technical aspect of the larger analytical skill-set that an SEM expert needs to have. Common usage packs several competencies within the domain of analytical skills. The ability to disintegrate complex information, critical thinking, and problem-solving are the core components.

3. Proactive, Transparent and Effective Communication

An SEM expert cannot work in a silo. They need to work as part of a team. Effective team functioning requires strong communication skills.

More importantly, without proactive and transparent communication abilities, an SEM expert will be unable to judge the aptness of the contents to be used. Contents are meant to communicate – to search engines and consumers alike.

4. Cross-Functional Partnership Competency

An SEM expert needs to function with a multidimensional team addressing different business needs. Without the ability to collaborate and coordinate with a cross-functional team, an SEM expert will be shoddy at their job.

5. Project Management Skills

An SEM expert will likely need to manage several projects simultaneously. That needs strong project management skills. Planning, strategizing, time management, review and prioritization, etc, are some of the key abilities included within project management skills.


Outsourcing Might Be The Smarter Choice

Partnering with an experienced SEM agency with a proven track record often proves more cost-effective than hiring an in-house SEM expert. You save on overheads and other related costs without losing access to the expertise you need.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Sheryl JonesSheryl Jones is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at Uplers who has a great experience in designing well-defined user journeys across the digital marketing domain. She leverages her digital marketing expertise to help businesses draw significant ROIs.

6 Ways To Write A Professional Development Plan

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article | 6 Ways To Write A Professional Development PlanWhen writing a professional development plan (PDP) ask yourself two questions: Where are you now? And where do you want to be? Once you get a good idea on these things, you’ll create an effective PDP, can help you on your way to achieving success, both for the short term and the long term.

In layman’s terms, a PDP is like a roadmap: It guides you from where you are now in your career or education to where you want to be; and it comes with a list of actions that you must do to achieve each goal and acquire the right skills.

Regardless if your PDP is for personal reasons, grow a business or expand on your career, it’s a must-have for your endeavors. Here are 6 ways that you can write an effective PDP:

1. Have A Self-Assessment

“It’s important to have a self-assessment before creating a professional development plan,” says Beau Lhotsky, a career adviser at Australian help and Paper fellows. “A self-assessment evaluates your professional interests, knowledge and skills; and it lets you examine your current position as it relates to your career goals. In this way, you can identify the areas in which you can improve them and reach your goals.”

2. Create Goals

When creating goals in your PDP, they should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

SMART goals are trackable, which makes it easier to update your PDP whenever you complete important milestones. And, they help you determine which are short-term, mid-term, and long-term. Keep in mind:

  • Short-term is within the next year.
  • Mid-term is within the next 1-2 years.
  • Long-term is within the next 3-5 years.

3. Have Strategies

Your PDP strategies define how you achieve goals; and, they involve the following approaches:

  • Experiential learning (learning through doing)
  • Exposure (learning from others)
  • Education
  • Reflection

Just keep in mind: the majority of your strategies should be experiential, so that you get a hands-on experience and develop new skills.

Follow these objectives when developing your strategy:

  • For career changes, research possible education and certification courses you can take to work toward this goal.
  • Always seek advice from professionals (i.e. experienced coworkers, a previous employer, etc.), and be welcoming to mentorship.
  • Seek opportunities that can help you build your skillset.

4. Utilize Resources

Resources are essential, especially when it comes to finding professional growth in your career and or life (in general). Whether it’s through networking opportunities or workshops, such resources can help enhance your career path.

Some professional resources include:

  • Graduate schools (and continuing education institutions) offer programs, conferences and courses that help you learn more about specific topics, which can ultimately lead to a certification or degree in a desired field.
  • Professional associations (local and national) offer memberships that help you connect with like-minded individuals and build your professional network, thus helping you advance in your career.
  • Webinars are normally hosted by professionals and businesses that strive to educate people on specific topics (i.e. industry trends, skills, etc.).

While some resources may require tuition, fees, or time requirements, it’s important that you determine which ones are available to you.

5. Create Timelines

“Your professional development plan will always be a work in progress,” says Brayden Georgina, a business writer at State of writing and Boom essays. “Therefore, the purpose of having a timeline is to show how you’re growing and changing over time. You can sprinkle in milestones, and make necessary changes when needed.”

6. Allow Changes

It’s possible that things can change, even as you have an established PDP. Therefore, it’s important to keep yourself accountable, and revisit your milestones often (preferably every quarter) to make sure that you’re on the right track, or even make adjustments as priorities shift.

Should any changes occur, don’t be afraid to implement them in your PDP. This can mean allowing reassessments and setbacks into your plan. For example, if a short-term goal isn’t met by the deadline, take time to reflect on why, and then do something about it so that you can do better next time.


Having a professional development plan is essential in guiding you toward the right path in life, and even help you reach goals by implementing structured steps. As you keep in mind these 6 tips, you’ll be able to create an effective PDP that will act as a roadmap on how you can succeed career-wise and lifetime-wise.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Kristin HermanKristin Herman writes and edits at and She also freelances for online magazine and blogs, such as As a tech enthusiast, she blogs about the latest trends in technology. And as a project manager, she has overseen many writing projects nationwide.

Important Skills That Can Be Learned at Business School

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article | Important Skills That Can Be Learned at Business SchoolAttending business school is a useful path to go down for those who want a change in career but are not sure in what direction. It can help students develop a range of transferable skills used in many different business sectors.

Why go to business school?

There are many reasons why people choose to go to business school. Some feel stuck in their current career, aware that they need a change but are not sure what route to take. Some are concerned that they lack the necessary skills or qualifications for their dream career. And others might want to start their own business, but do not know where to start, or are too nervous to take the risk.

No matter what the reason, business school provides training in a variety of skills and a level of understanding that can help those who wish to seek the start a career or progress to a new one.

Here’s a rundown of the important skills that can be learned at business school.

Impression management

The truism that ‘You only have one chance to make a first impression’ can make people feel nervous, especially when pitching an idea, meeting new contacts, or even closing a deal. Being able to manage the impression that you leave on people is not only a critical skill in business but also an excellent life skill.

An impression has to line up with the intended goal for the engagement, and easy apply to business schools help teach students to manage these impressions, and how to alter them according to their desired outcome. One of the most common types of impression management that businesses undertake is the presentation of merchandise. You need to present the very best version of your product to entice people to buy it. Business schools can help you develop this skill.

Time management

Time management is one of the most crucial skills for business, as it enables much more to be accomplished in a shorter amount of time thereby improving efficiency. Then time can be better spent on new projects and activities that add value.

Business schools advocate an interesting approach to time management. Generally, they do not focus on prioritizing and managing time like most suggestions but instead teach the benefits of multiplying time instead. In this approach, entrepreneurs and business owners create the illusion of multiplying time by doing things today that make tomorrow better. In effect, they are adding in the criteria of significance to the usual ones of urgency and importance. Learning how to do this in business school is paramount to success, and also avoiding burnout.

Communication skills

Communication is vital for day-to-day life, and is much more than just speaking. Communication is about getting an idea, thought or information across in a way that another person understands, which is why it is regarded as such a crucial skill.

It is extremely difficult to teach how to communicate effectively and there are many aspects to think about, such as body language, tone of voice and eye contact, to name a few. Business schools provide plenty of practice, so these skills become second nature.