Want to increase your career opportunities? Take a bite of PIE!

 Marketing Director   April 25, 2020  Career Advice

One of the most pleasurable things I’ve done throughout my career is coach leaders in higher education as they explored their career options and interviewed for new leadership opportunities. As people prepare for taking that next step, it is often helpful to ask them think about their PIE.

What is PIE, you might ask? It’s a useful acronym that I was reminded of by Dr. Damon Williams, author of Strategic Diversity Leadership. PIE stands for Performance, Image, and Exposure.


Performance, of course, is the baseline for all leaders. When looking for leaders, we are always looking for those who have high performance and high potential. In the words of a colleague of mine, “we are looking for rock stars!”

Here are some questions for you to consider with regards to performance:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What goals are you setting for yourself and how are you meeting them?
  • What difficult or complex projects have you accomplished recently?
  • Are you satisfied not only with what you’ve accomplished, but how you’ve accomplished it?
  • How can you build upon your good performance to make it great?


Image is what you are known for.  It is the personal brand that you project based upon what you do, how you communicate what you do, and how you present yourself to the world. Ask yourself:

  • What am I known for in my work community?
  • What would my supervisor or others say about my knowledge, skills, and abilities?
  • How am I using my expertise and my sphere of influence to be of service to others?
  • Do I project an image of professionalism in my communications, both verbally and in writing?
  • Am I trustworthy? Have I demonstrated reliability, respect, and competence to others?
  • How am I managing first, second, and third impressions? Is there something in my personal appearance that might need to be updated?


Exposure is the opportunity to meet with internal and external leaders and groups who aren’t in your normal sphere of colleagues. Positive exposure can build your credibility quickly and open up leadership opportunities that may have been closed to you. Ask yourself:

  • When was the last time I took a risk to speak to leaders or groups outside of my normal work sphere?
  • What possible opportunities do I have in the future to: a) make a presentation; b) lead a project team; c) network with others?
  • How might I initiate a conversation with my supervisor to create new job assignments that would increase my exposure?
  • Is there a particular leader that I could ask about initiating a mentoring relationship?
  • What current job openings are of interest to me and which ones should I apply to?

What parts of PIE resonate with you?

Author: Anita Rios is an experienced consultant and executive coach providing customized talent acquisition and development services and consultation to colleges and universities looking to strengthen their leadership pipeline. She also works with higher education leaders who want to grow their careers with individual leadership development coaching, transition planning, and interview preparation.  Anita is a certified professional in learning and performance (CPLP) and also holds certifications in: EQi, MBTI, DiSC, and StrengthsFinder. Rios Consulting LLC  is a proud partner of HERC.