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Four Essential Traits of the Future Stock Plan Professional

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September 26, 2019 | Jennifer Namazi

Four Essential Traits of the Future Stock Plan Professional

I’m still riding the high of exuberance that I felt last week at our 27th Annual NASPP Conference in New Orleans. One of our best ever, there was a sense of excitement everywhere I went – our HUB was full of non-stop energy and our speakers brought an abundance of information delivered with high doses of enthusiasm. With so many stand-out sessions, it’s no easy task to decide which nuggets to share in our blog. I’ll start today with some of the learning I acquired from the Conference’s two outstanding keynote addresses, and how that translates into must have traits for the evolving the stock plan professional.   

Business and the workforce are changing at a rapid pace. With talk of robots and computers replacing jobs, the technology advancements seen across industries is profound. How do we as individuals and as an industry contemplate the future? Speakers Josh Linker and Elatia Abate (in separate presentations) offered up some ideas that I've compiled into a tidy list.

4 Essential Traits of the Future Stock Plan Professional:
  1. Subject Matter Student (no longer subject matter expert). I’m betting that many of us came into the stock plan world thinking that there is just so much to learn and set our sights on acquiring a vast amount of knowledge. What happens when we learn everything on the list? Tax regulations? Check. Securities Laws? Check. Accounting standards? Check. The idea here is that subject matter isn’t a destination (i.e. reaching “expert” status). Learning doesn’t stop and the goal is to become a student of the industry, continuing to grow. There are many opportunities for this – from attending local chapter meetings, to digesting articles, webcasts, and other resources that continue to explore the nuances and big picture concepts associated with equity plans. For those of us that often feel too busy to take on the role of ongoing student, look at it as a trait that is likely to become essential in adapting to organizational needs and maintaining competitive attributes.

  2. Forgets About Being Well Rounded. Focuses on a T-Shape Skillset Instead.  Rather than focusing on being good at many things, the professional of the future focuses on developing deep expertise in one area (the up and down of the “T”), with a wide arms (the side to side or surface of the “T”) knowledge of other things. The concept of being a “T” seems perfect for stock plans. There are so many domains of information to cover – why not develop deeper expertise in one or two of them and maintain a cursory knowledge of the peripheral stuff?

  3. Creative. Develops and Expands Creative Muscle. My initial thought on this one was that it’s hard to be creative in an industry that is highly regulated and process oriented. As I thought further, I realized that because of the structure we operate within, it’s vital to find opportunities to express creativity. Humans are hard wired to be creative – all of us – regardless of aptitude or chosen profession. Creativity has been valued for thousands of years, and as technology continues to advance, human creativity will likely remain a highly regarded resource that is not matched by computers or robots. Find ways to tap into and expand your creative thinking on a daily basis. For me personally, writing and creating communications is one avenue to delve into my creative side. Consider creativity in formulating processes (go out of the box), communications and education, and plan design (I’m sure there are many other areas as well.)

  4. Adaptable to Changing Participant Needs and Demographics. It’s no secret that today’s workplace is incredibly diverse, with significant differences in generational preferences for work styles, learning and communication. The stock plan administrator of today and tomorrow needs an adaptive mindset – one that steps outside of their own thinking and evaluates the diverse needs of their participant demographics. Education in general is migrating to an on-demand format. Consider this in contemplating how to share information about your equity plans with participants.
As the tools and technology that support stock plans continues to evolve (at a rapid pace), consider how the role of the stock plan professional will change. The ability to adapt, shift mindset, develop a “T” shaped skillset, and tap into creativity will likely be valuable attributes of your future self.


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