Tom Lavoie on Career Planning and Professional Development


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Tom Lavoie is a former HP D-level executive now president of Consensia IT Partners and a certified Focal Point business coach. In this interview at the IEEE Rising Stars Conference, Lavoie discusses why he attended the conference, how he helps entry-level technical stars get their careers started with a plan, and helps experienced executives enhance their professional skills.

Nolan Johnson: I’m talking with Tom Lavoie, and you’ve been talking to the attendees who are college students and recently graduated young professionals. Can you tell us about what you do and what brings you here?

Tom Lavoie: I franchised with FocalPoint Business Coaching early last year and one of my former HP colleagues, Bill Gris, reached out to me to do a presentation at a Riverside event about six weeks ago for a similar audience as here, and that went extremely well. I was approached by one of the national IEEE leads after the presentation; he asked me if I would be interested in coming to this event. Initially, we tried to get a presentation spot, but there just wasn’t enough time so I agreed to attend and sponsor this year, and I’ve committed to present next year.

I have a passion for coaching both senior-level and entry-level employees. I like to help the younger generation get into the workforce and know what to do to get the right job because it’s different today compared to the mid-‘80s when I graduated from college.

Johnson: What are some of the things you might do for an entry-level professional talking with you?

Lavoie: My son is a sophomore at the University of California, Santa Barbara, so I’ve been coaching him a lot. What’s interesting about entry-level employees is they’re extremely bright. They study very hard at college. Most of them are straight-A students in engineering and computer science—technical degrees—but they don’t necessarily do their homework as far as learning what to do to get the job. What I find is they have a haphazard “apply to random jobs that are out there” mentality, and if they’re lucky, they get a job—the key point being “if they’re lucky.” Most struggle to get a job because they don’t have a plan. They don’t know the process to get a job. It’s very different today compared to the mid-‘80s.

If you don’t understand the game with how managers hire, you’re going to have a hard time being the one who gets selected. I feel there’s a lot that they can learn from coaching. There are many resources on the internet that they can be told to go out and research, but most importantly for me is that they must have a plan.

One of the main services that I provide is building a strategic plan—both short-term and long-term—for their career. That will be something they evolve every year because things change, and if you don’t have a business or life plan, you’re not necessarily going to achieve your goals, so that’s the key deliverable.

Another service I provide includes interviewing technique and skills. There are a lot of people who will coach behavioral interviewing, and I was trained at HP to interview based on behavioral patterns in the past, but it’s more than that. I also provide an assessment—which I heard one of the other coaches talk about yesterday—about knowing what behavioral style you are, and whether the person you’re interviewing with has a different style.

That’s huge knowledge because if you don’t recognize that, a lot of people fail the interview based on just having a disconnect between behavioral styles; they don’t understand why the hiring manager appears to be acting indifferent or inconsiderate.

To read the full article, which appeared in the February 2019 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.

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