Career & Professional Development

What It Means To Be an Associate Or a Partner at Definite

Written by Harya Bimo, 20 April 2016

Last night, someone from Definite asked me a very tough question. He is not an ordinary ‘someone’. He has stayed with us through thick and thin, a respected leader who has proven his commitment to this digital agency time and time again.

So when he asked me the question, I thought to myself, “I better answer this the best way I can”.

“Is becoming a partner in the company a privilege or an achievement?,” he asked. I paused for a moment and realised that this is something that has never been addressed in management meetings or among the leaders.

At Definite, we have an associate program where the best performing employees are enrolled in a two-year leadership training scheme and put to the test by heading a division or given a special responsibility for a specific role. They are given access to all information, and are expected to contribute to the company’s business plan, P&L structure, and other areas outside of their job scope such as operations, HR, marketing, sales, and so on.

The program is far from perfect, but the idea is to mold these people so they can become leaders and someday, after a minimum of four years, lead the company or one of our business units as a partner.

In this regard, becoming an associate can easily be classified as an ‘achievement’.

But what about becoming a partner? After four years of commitment, would it be an achievement or a privilege?

Then the discussion, which took place among a few colleagues at the patio table in front of the office, became lively. Everyone had their own opinion on the matter.

After pondering for some time, I came up with a perfect analogy and said: “You see, being a partner is like owning a piece of land. The company is a tree that grows on that land. If the tree is nurtured with love and care, in time the tree will grow and produce fruits. You are the fruit. As the tree grows, the land becomes more valuable.”

“So what happens to the fruit? What if we take the seeds from the fruit and give it its own piece of land to grow? Would the seed grow to become another tree? The seed may fail to grow – for various reasons, whether it’s bad weather, soil or lack of water. In nature and business, shit happens.”

Finally addressing the question, I said: “I don’t think becoming a partner is either a privilege or an achievement. Ultimately it is a test. A test for both the company and the person, the tree and the fruit. In essence, it is a test to see if the seed of the fruit can grow, and if the tree can produce the best fruits.”

It goes without saying that it is hard to ensure that only the best fruits are grown. Most of the time we may fail more than we succeed. But it will be worth the time and effort.

As with the nature of tests in life, you mold people to become better students and leaders. The goal is to elevate them to another level where they can gain more knowledge, have more impact on their surroundings and ultimately, find out if they are worthy of the challenge.

So, my friend, the answer to that question really is: “Are you going to take the test?”

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Let’s see.


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