Does working in the corporate world come with an expiry date?

I have very mixed emotions…

Having “survived” another tough week emotionally, I am trying to get my head around whether or not I love or hate the corporate world. You see, my whole career has been in the corporate sector. I started working a month after writing my last matric exam. No gap year or break for me. It was go, go, go! So while most of my friends went off and studied fulltime at Wits etc., the next couple of years of my life were spent studying through correspondence as I launched myself head first into the harsh corporate world.

I say harsh because that’s what corporate life is all about. It’s tough, ruthless, cruel… where only the fittest survive. That suited me when I began my working career. It pushed me, drove me. I was very ambitious and within the last 15 years, have managed to climb the corporate ladder, having worked at the top mining company in the world, to where I am now middle manager at one of the top banks in South Africa.

Lately, however, the environment in the corporate sector has changed my views. The harshness that used to drive me, inspire me, push me, nowadays seems to kill my spirit, suffocate me. I find that I have become a very different person. Hard, cold, driven, selfish. All of these qualities which you most definitely need if you intend to “make” it in this environment.

But when do you stop and say, I’ve had enough? Is there an expiry date?

I was introduced to a new colleague earlier this week. A soft-spoken gentle looking girl, and as I shook her hand, the first thought that entered my mind was, “You will not last 6 months in this place!” (Only those who understand the corporate culture will “get this” statement.)

You see, the thing is this… If you intend to make a career for yourself in the corporate world, you had better be prepared for some tough days. In fact, the way the world has moved into a place of uncertainty and constant change, expect many days when you don’t know if you are coming or going.

But isn’t that the one thing that has kept me going? The thing that has fuelled my passion and made me love it so much?

Because I do love it… well, parts of it.

4 thoughts on “Does working in the corporate world come with an expiry date?

  1. For me the expiry date came the day my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and I was forced to slow down and change my goals and ideas and mindset.

    You are so right about “only the fittest survive”.


  2. I think corporate world has an expiry, for those who have ambition.

    That’s idea may offend those who are happy to work till pension date, but hey.

    I worked in corporate, climbed ranks, hung with the big boys, really big, household names, but it was not where I wanted to be.

    Problem is, corporate is safe and stagnates growth and imagination.

    We confuse climbing the corporate ladder with personal and professional growth, which is not the same.

    The private sector, due to its nature, its competitiveness, is where you grow….

    That’s my 2 cents…

    As always, love your blog


  3. “You will not last 6 months in this place!”. – how many times we’ve thought the same of newbies starting their first day. Hands up every corporate who’s placed a bet on those exact words… Yep, corporates are not for the feinthearted.


  4. I had about 4 gap years. 2 years studying for a useless diploma. 2 years after waitering. Then I got a minimum wage job in a computer shop in a town no-one has ever heard of. Fourteen years of hard work later, I can proudly call myself a member of corporate SA.

    After a year on my current project, I would love to call it quits. However, my line of work has no expiry date. My expiry date will only be when I expire. Sadly.


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