What are you doing to Future Proof Your Career?

There are many inspiring things in the movie Hidden Figures about three African American women who positively impact the success of the space program through their intelligence, creativity and grit.

As a Coach I especially appreciated the subplot of the movie involving Dorothy Vaughan, the woman portrayed by Octavia Spencer, and the giant IBM computer that was brought in to perform calculations at lightning speed.

 While many would see the arrival of the computer as the end of their employment road, Dorothy Vaughn sees it as an opportunity and sneaks into the lab after hours to learn more about it. She even goes to the library to get a book on Fortran (the programming language) and studies it.  

Not only does Dorothy Vaughn learn Fortran herself, she teachers the women on her team. Her goal isn’t just to stay employed, it is to move into management and to bring her colleagues with her.

This is a GREAT example of future proofing. Rather than feeling overwhelmed or defeated by the prospect of being replaced by a machine, Dorothy embraces the possibility of an opportunity for her in the new paradigm. She doesn’t ignore the obstacles, she anticipates and plans for them. Dorothy figures out what she needs to do and finds a way to do it (as do all of these amazing women.)

While your “future proofing” story may not be as dramatic as Dorothy Vaughan’s no doubt it has impacted your life positively. Think back to times in your life and/or career when you have walked toward a change rather than avoid it. Maybe it was when you were younger and you didn’t feel like you had that much to lose. Maybe it was a time you were forced by circumstance to take a chance and it paid off. If nothing comes to mind right away, keep reflecting. You have not gotten where you are today without a few leaps of faith.

Sometimes the way forward requires us to look in our past to identify those moments when we embraced a challenge and prepared for it. 

No matter where you are right now in your career I can promise you won’t be in the same place next year and the odds are pretty good you may not even be in that job in 2-3 years. That’s the reality. You can either hide from that or you can channel your inner Dorothy Vaughan and open yourself up to possibility.


Teri Coyne is the Principal of Coyne Coaching, LLC. As a coach she helps high performing clients regain their focus and align their personal and professional goals with their values and strengths. Teri is a dynamic speaker and workshop facilitator who delivers engaging learning experiences on a wide range of topics related to management and leadership skills, performance development and career strategies.