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Career Coach: 2012 Goal Post

Pamela Thompson talks with Garman Herigstad, FX Lead at Digital Domain, about setting goals for 2012.

Pamela Kleibrink


With a new year, many people want to make a fresh start, including plans for advancing their careers.  No career advances by accident.  It requires setting goals, figuring out how to achieve them, and taking action.

I’ve known Garman Herigstad since 1998 when I recruited him for EAI (Engineering Animation Inc. in Iowa).  I recruited him again in 2008 for Technicolor in Beijing.  He is a recruiter’s and employer’s ideal candidate–experienced, capable and totally professional.  His career has taken him all over the world, including Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan.  He has worked at numerous studios including Sony Imageworks, Rhythm and Hues, Reel FX and DNA Productions and has taught at Savannah College of Art and Design and Nan Yang Polytechnic in Singapore.   He’s currently FX Lead on Neighborhood Watch at Digital Domain, Vancouver.  Garman shared his views on goal setting and how it affects one’s career.

Career Coach:  Why are goals important?

Garman Herigstad: Our industry is constantly changing.  It's always been changing and will continue to do so.  We need to have a long-term view about our career which includes future self-development and redirection of skills and positions in order to survive, let alone thrive.

Without goals you really aim at nothing.

Career Coach: Why do you think most people don't achieve their goals?

Garman: I've had many students feel they only need to gain a degree or diploma and then their career will auto pilot them to success.  These students often don't really have a goal other than to "have a career in a cool industry" and don't seem to be aware how difficult the industry really is.

Career Coach:  What is the most challenging aspect of achieving your goals?

Garman: Constantly finding myself needing to learn new skills.  With increased responsibilities comes the need to learn more, often while working on projects which require overtime.

Continual personal skill development is both the cool interesting thing about our career and also one of the frustrating things about it.  But it's the thing which make us admire those who are successful.

Career Coach: How do you go about setting goals for yourself?

Garman:  I evaluate what I'm good at and how I can improve myself in those skills by expanding what I know or reviewing old skills to make sure they are not out of date or grown rusty.

I also look at what I want to do in the future and try to determine what new skills I need to learn in order to get to that new point.

Often I find myself needing to "drop" one area of skills because the time required to keep them current is impossible.  It's a bit of a scary decision but often in order to move forward into a new area it’s necessary to let old skills go.  I only have so much time for personal skill development.

Career Coach:  What is the most difficult aspect of setting goals?

Garman: Finding the time to learn the new skills and knowledge in order to reach them.  I have to sacrifice time I would rather spend on other things in order to reach my goals.

Often this also involves a change of company, city and even country, which means leaving family, friends and furniture behind.

Career Coach:  How did you learn to set goals?

Garman:  I was fortunate to work with some very great people and I study what they know (and what I don't know), how they work and what makes them successful.

This year I encourage you to emulate those like Garman, who set high goals and pursue them.  Less than five percent of people actually put their goals in writing or have action plans for attaining them.  Make it a goal this year to write down your goals, and achieve them.  Good luck!

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, writer and speaker.  Like Garman Herigstad, Pamela has presented at SCAD and Nan Yang Polytechnic as well as Ringling, Gnomon, SIGGRAPH, FMX and Disney.  She helps career coaching clients formulate action plans to achieve their goals.  You can reach Pamela at