Bain Capital co-chair and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca knows a thing or two about success. He oversees a private equity firm with $85 billion in assets under management and has an NBA team to boot.
CNBC Make It caught up with Pagliuca at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week to glean his best advice for achieving career success in a rapidly changing world.
To be successful in the future job market, Pagliuca notes that firstly, you have to pursue something you'll enjoy: "You want to wake up every day and love what you're doing." Once you find a field you're passionate about, he recommends doing the following three things to reach your potential.
"Really attack your job with a lot of intellectual curiosity," Pagliuca says. "If someone asks you to do a spreadsheet, figure out the big picture of why you're doing the spreadsheet, of how that's going to impact the company and how that's going to make your boss's life easier."
Taking a step back and figuring out how you fit into the overall scheme helps you be more useful to the organization, and it also furthers your own development and ability to spot opportunities.
"Ask the big question," he says. "Know the big picture instead of just executing your job."
When Pagliuca was at the beginning of his career and had just started at Bain and Company, he learned an important lesson. "I was rushing around the office and trying to get a lot of stuff done, and maybe not taking the time to explain things to people, to sit down and think about what their needs were."
His first boss sat him down and gave him some advice: "My boss said, 'All the world's a stage, and you really want to make sure you're bringing everyone along and taking the time to do that rather than going from point A to point B as quick as you can.'"
It stuck with him, and now he passes along the same advice to others looking to advance in their careers. "People are looking at you — not what you say, but what you do and how you treat other people," he says. "Everybody's part of the team, and you want to treat them with respect and dignity and make them part of the solution."
To succeed in the future, you'll need to have an understanding of technology and accounting, he says.
"At Bain Capital, all of our companies have been impacted by the huge technological wave that's happened in the last 10 years," he says. "Understanding how to utilize technology in your favor and being knowledgeable about it is a critical skill."
At the same time, having a basic grasp of accounting helps you understand the building blocks of business, notes Pagliuca, who is a CPA. "Accounting is the language of business, and really understanding that language at a deep level is helpful," he says.
"I don't think you need to get an accounting degree necessarily," he adds, "but having a facility with accounting means you can examine a financial statement, see where companies are aggressive or not aggressive, see what the provisions are, and really understand in a fundamental way what the trajectory of the company is. It's a great skill to have."
To bone up on these skills, he recommends taking computer science and accounting classes in school or online, and applying it to everyday problems and your job.