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Stevens Lecture Encourages Employees to Take Life and Career Into Their Own Hands

Stevens employees control careers

When it comes to relationships between employees and their employers, a lacking connection often means workers must do more for their own future, says Fran Dramis, who recently spoke at the Stevens Institute of Technology’s School of Business.

Dramis, a former leader at financial institutions like Salomon Brothers, CitiBank, BellSouth, and Coopers & Lybrand, explained that the lack of a meaningful social contract between corporations and employees means that workers must be strategic about their own job security.

“How do you make it so unintended consequences become intended? When the downsizing happens, the people who get eliminated are the support people, not the strategic people. Your job as a leader is to make your organization and your employees strategic. Don’t go to work someplace that doesn’t offer you that, or you’ll be the first to be laid off,” he explains.

As the CIO at BellSouth, Dramis retention strategy was to give employees “life security,” as opposed to job security. “You have to increase their marketability, help them learn new skills. If you give someone life security, they’ll stay with you.”

Stevens Professor and information systems expert Michael Parfett worked under Dramis in a few different positions over the years. In his introduction, Parfett praised Dramis’ “life security” approach. “He kept asking me if I was updating my résumé. No other boss has ever asked me to do that. People do that when they’re getting ready to leave. In his book, it’s part of his technique — he gives you the ability to leave, but you don’t want to.”

Dramis concluded his talk with some words that he hoped might light a fire under future MBAs. “We’re rapidly moving to a digital society, where the interaction between business processes and digital enhancement is creating incredible opportunities. No company will hire you and tell you you’ll be there for the next 30 years. You have to take responsibility for your own life security.”

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