About me

Phil Profile_2012-crop2You’re reading this, so you’ve made the decision to invest some time in thinking about your career. Thanks for taking time to read what I have to say. I’m shooting for “pragmatic” and a little “snarky”. I’ve had a life-long passion for helping people develop personally and think through their career. Business challenges get me excited too!

My grounding for the opinions and advice I offer stem from 15 years of experience in management consulting (Ernst & Young), corporate strategy and general management at 3M and teaching management at the University of MN. I enjoy my career, but am not consumed by it.   

I currently lead MBA programs at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.  In a prior life I directed the Carlson Consulting Enterprise, an experiential learning program for MBA and Undergrad students here at Carlson. There I taught a year-long course in consulting skills while coaching students on projects in the business community.  I also teach undergraduate and executive education courses in General Management and Critical Thinking and was honored to have won the Carlson School’s Undergraduate Faculty of the Year award in 2010. I enjoy serving on the steering committee for the U of MN’s Center for Integrative Leadership.

What are my motivations?

Fundamentally, my deepest motivation is for you to figure out your best fit and be positioned to get it. I see too many people who either lack support and advice or who feel trapped. You can absolutely influence your career positively, but only if you are proactive.

Here are a few other “practical” motivations…

  1. The first is self-involved. Simply, I’ve always wanted to write a book. I lack the creativity and stick-to-itiveness to write an artful piece of prose or historical non-fiction. I have, however spent a great deal of time working in roles that required me to think about how to manage your career. So to me it seemed “easy” to try and put my thoughts on the subject in print. As the process turned out, it wasn’t all that “easy” but a blog helps me chunk out my thinking.
  2. I get asked for a lot of advice. The blog has become a place to collect these thoughts and continue to share them over time.
  3. Third, this is a passion of mine. It’s important to me personally that as many of us as possible find good fits for ourselves in our careers. Note that I said FIT…you’ll find me circling back on this theme again and again.
  4. Fourth, I have had numerous colleagues refer to my observations as practical. My wife  takes great amusement in this as she would not, I think, describe me as practical. However, in the context of work and career others see my advice this way. I believe this comes from trying to help them explore likely outcomes from taking certain actions. Think of it as scenario building or role-playing. Many of us are naïve when it comes to how others will react to our actions. I try to help people explore how certain steps will play out psychologically and politically. Whether this is “Machiavellian” or merely pragmatic I’ll leave to you to decide.

There are probably other reasons, but these are my big ones.

More can be found on my linkedin.com profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/philipmiller or follow me on twitter @millerphiller

7 thoughts on “About me

  1. Dear Phil,

    I came across your profile on linkedIn and then checked out your blog. I thought your articles were well thought out and balanced in their perspective. For someone like me who’s beginning his career, this is very helpful.

    I received my Ph.D. in Polymer Science one year ago and since then have been working a Senior Research Engineer for a large multi-national corporation. I live in the greater Boston area.

    I am looking to shift my career from R&D to Business Development or Strategic Planning. I however do not want to change the indsutry sector that I am in. Within manufacturing I am oepn to any industry that involve physical science based technology e.g. Chemical , Industrial/Manufacturing, Consumer (e.g. Proctor and Gamble), Medical Devices etc.

    I am thinking through several different options to control my career trajectory- Part-Time MBA, joining a business consulting firm, learning one/two foreign languages.I need a career mentor like you to help me think through these options.

    Some areas thatfinterest me are- managing science/technology intensive entreprises, managing innovation/new product development, technology negotiation.

    Hoping to hear from you.
    Best Regards
    Aditya Ranade

  2. Phil,
    I got your name from Linkedin, and am really interested in your career progress, which is similar to my career goal, so I checked your blog.
    I like your thoughts on “No regrets” and “Don’t expect perfection”. I always told myself: Once you make every possible effort, you won’t regret even if you fail.
    FYI: I’m a father of 2 lovely girls, got my MBA recenlty, worked at a multi-national chemical company. So I would very much like to further talk with you about life as father of 2 and career development.


  3. Hi Phil,

    Just wandered across your blog today and am pondering how to re-enter into Corp. America after being home for 2 months on maternity leave. I completely agree with your blogs about ‘going the extra mile’ to leave and impression with your clients and finish strong, but am torn about how much time to spend outside the office to make this happen at the expense of my family. As previous co-workers, I know you know how our time in the office gets sucked up by meetings, leaving little time for actual work.

    Got any good advice for a new/old mom 🙂 To some extent I feel like I’ve cheated my 11 year old daughter a bit over the years and am trying to figure out if I want to follow the same course with my newborn daughter.

    • Theresa – Great to hear from you. I completely relate to the “what do I do?” question. Last year when I decided to leave 3M, I really wrestled with this and simply decided that I wanted to have more control of my time and to spend more time with our three kids.

      A former boss of mine once observed “you can have it all, just not necessarily at the same time.” I think we owe it to ourselves to really think through our priorities and then commit to them. If career progression is it, OK. If it’s family, then that’s great. Just recognize that whatever you decide is often hard to fully reconcile with other priorities. Long way of saying everything can’t be #1.

      Having said that, I have often found that there may be situations that get you more of what you want. You just have to explore/be open to new possibilities. Hard in these economic times, but not impossible. I’d encourage you to look at a post I wrote awhile back about transitions. It’s more about thinking through next steps than deciding what’s important to you, but it’s relevant.

      Feel free to give me a call if you want to chat more.
      Happy Holidays! P

    • Wes – Just did a quick scan of your blog. Love it! I’m a believer in longer form writing on these topics and have struggled to find too many thoughtful blogs. Too many strike me as shallow or crassly trying to sell me on something. I appreciate the thoughfulness and authenticity of your journey. Love the Personal MBA idea. Particularly liked your observation on learning through practice:http://impartedpursuit.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/mba-frontier-risks-and-side-projects/

      I wholeheartedly agree as it’s my day job!. We believe MBAs need to put concepts into practice and have built our whole FT MBA program around this principle.

      In terms of advice:
      – Write to please yourself. You can get off track trying to crowd please too much.
      – Don’t overthink. Let it evolve as your interests do.
      – Tactical: Might want to add a page break into your posts. As you add more, it will be hard to scroll through too many full posts. Probably want to give me a taste and let me click in (which will also allow you to see post by post viewing data more clearly too).

      Good luck and let me know if I can be of help.

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