Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Different strokes for similar stimuli!

Yesterday was just like another day for me, a recruiter. But interestingly, the perspective was a lot different...

Just as any other day. among the persons I interacted-by mail, by phone, skype, and in person were professionals from different walks of life. A couple of software professionals who were now drawn into the Satyam Virtual pool, an aspiring returning Indian quite naturally weighing professional growth and personal instincts, an associate of a premier search firm wanting to explore the next move, and senior executive's (of a large international recruiter network) account of 'whats goin' around the world in the job market'....

Times are changing! Lifetime loyalty. Back in our parents time, then the career deal was 'cradle-to-grave employment'. Employers offered you a career structure and they virtually guaranteed you a job for life. Today employers put 'nonbillable' resources in a virtual pool-and pay you a subsistence allowance as an assurance. The onus of career management is now on the employee!!

During the boom in the past decade, personal life was put on hold while company life took over. Longer jobs, more stressful jobs, but all in a good cause, right? Money, promotion up the career ladder? Now things are different. Instead of promotion appears redundancy. More are being drained of creative energy and dissatisfied with their lives.

Changing times need changing responses, no?

The Satyamite is willing to work part time -even as a faculty in a lowly computer institute to keep his skills honed till the market picks up! Or take a drop in salary and move into an operational role in a non-IT company. The returning Indian-knocking at the glass ceiling in the American environment is willing to give up an 'all paid expat salary' for a task he can do on autopilot-and instead weave his way through an emerging domain of 'infrastructure management' and find solutions for the coming morrows. ( "Surely if an aeroplane can be built in 22 days, setting up a datacentre should take much lesser time,no? All we need to do is automating some processes"!?)

The 'search' expert is exploring taking a business role in the next few years to add value before getting back into the consultancy mode. Across the world, some of my NPA partners, after working 3 times harder than earlier -and found the results worse in Q1, have reconciled to 'just chilling' and 'taking a vacation' -to notice that it has improved their creative juices and quality of output-and a much more profitable Q2 :-)!!

But what took the cake was the presentation at the Hyderabad Management Association -a lecture on Personal Branding by Prabir Jha, the global HR head of a billion dollar company! Waxing eloquent on the power of brands, it would have been difficult to fathom that he wasn't a marketing guru as much as a 'HR practitioner'!! The outstanding takeaway to me- ' Instead of a career ladder, think of a career "chess board".

More than any other time, I think the following extract conveys it all :
"To move forward in chess, you sometimes have to move sideways, or even move back. The same could be now true of your career. You need to take a wider view of your career path. Examine your overall career strategy.
You are not happy in your job? You can't see a career future? Or do you feel anxious about your company's ability to provide you with the opportunities you need? If so, try to think laterally. The solution to your worries could be to step sideways into a related job in another industry, or even move a step back to a lower position in a totally different area of work. Once there, you can begin to move forward again.
Use this "chess board strategy" to create yourself a personal career path that matches exactly with your plans and dreams, with your values and with your life's passions. You become your own manager. You manage yourself. You manage your career as you manage a business. Think of yourself as a business asset. How do you make the most of your assets: your skills, imagination, creative talents, knowledge?"

No, he wasn't just spouting a fancy theory. Prabir for one has actually been living it. Beginning his career in the prestigious Indian Civil Services for a decade, and then for two years (a la drill movement in the armed forces called Kadam tal’/ marching on the spot without moving forward) pursuing a premier institute MBA along with batchmates a generation younger, before making the entry into the corporate world from square one!!

Well, today is another day ...

1 comment:

Anand said...

Thanks Achyut- good write up. Liked the 'Chess Board" career perspective :)