Protean and Boundaryless careers

protean and boundaryless careersTwo trends have changed the world of work in many ways. The first is the shift towards a knowledge based economy that many countries are seeing and the second is global connectivity, interdependence and integration. The new career context that is emerging as a result of these trends has given rise to the terms – Protean and Boundaryless careers.

Protean careers

Companies are operating in a more complex (knowledge-based/global) environment, which is constantly changing. They need to be flexible and nimble in order to stay in business and hence many companies have given-up the idea of keeping employees for a lifetime. By doing, so they have transferred the responsibility and risk of managing careers to the individual. So in order to survive this change, individuals need to become more self-reliant in managing their careers. This means knowing what they want from their careers, developing the skills/knowledge/network that is necessary to achieve their goals and being able to ‘change with change’.

Hence the term Protean career, the origin of of which comes from Proteus, a Greek sea-god who could change in form as the situation demanded. A more formal definition is provided below:

“The protean career is driven by the person, not the organization, based on individually defined goals, encompassing the whole life space, and being driven by psychological success (rather than) objective measures of success such as pay, rank or power. It is a career in which the person is (1) values driven in the sense that the individual’s personal values provide the guidance and measure of success for the individual’s career, and (2) self-directed in personal career management—having the ability to be adaptive in performance and learning demands.”

Boundaryless careers

Amit Puri - Managing Consultant, Sandbox Advisors

Amit is an experienced career, business and HR professional. Previously, he has worked with organisations such as Bain & Company, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Amit has advanced degrees/qualifications in Career Counselling, Organisational Psychology & HR, Occupational Psychometrics, Career/Life Coaching & Business.

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2 Responses to Protean and Boundaryless careers

  1. Would be interesting to see if people across the world start adopting such careers. Although the concept seems different from slash careers, just the mix of work options which a person can pursue over a period of time will enable him/her to have a much more fulfilling and varied work/life as a whole.

    • Hi BMP.

      More and more people (and clients) I come across, are looking to take charge of and lead such careers. However, I would say that in Asia it is still in the early stages – but catching on fast (especially for the well educated, mid/high income group).

      The thinking behind slash careers (i.e. for example – careers where a person is a banker/writer/xyz) is similar to these concepts, in terms of variety, focus on continous learning and crossing of boundaries.