The Portable Executive

Thompson starts with a basic message: The jobs are gone, and they are not coming back. The reason is technology in general and the computer in particular, which has made layers of management obsolete. Thompson’s intended audience is those who are high up on the corporate ladder when the parting push comes: executives and upper-level managers. The book sketches out in concept and anecdote what the former executive can do to bounce back, starting with emotional acceptance of the situation.

The jobs are not there, but the opportunity to sell one’s executive skills, on an ad hoc basis, is. Companies who recently let most of their experienced, knowledgeable, and expensive people go will still need the portable executive’s skills when there is a problem to be solved—anything from opening a small new product line to a major merger. The executive equivalent of temping requires some adjustment. For example, it is usually an asset to be a team player when one is on the inside; outside, one must be self-promoting. Within the corporation, flexibility is fine so long as it follows written procedure; on the outside, one must be flexible for real. The portable executive must also learn all or most the aspects of running a small business rather than concentrate on a particular area.

This book offers good advice to those who, rather than try to find a new job, want to become self- employed corporate advisers, consultants, managers, and executives.