Feel somehow your life is stuck in MS-OFFICE ? The reality of life for MBAs is Excel or PowerPoint , I heard Google is catching up at campus. Having gone through this myself, (I am still not out of it!), having had the nightmare of freshly minted MBAs reporting to me every year ( 90% of MBAs in their first job believe that their first Boss in Incompetent) and struggling to manage their transition to reality, guess I am now in a position to give some Gyan on assessing your job and career moves. I crystallized these thoughts while discussing these situations with a friend of mine, her issues with the first job where similar to what most of you would be facing. Job!! Money !! or Career !!
1. Money is not Important: - I do not actually mean it, not that I am asking you to struggle through an insipid low paying job. I did that for almost a year. But the rules of taxation are such that anybody earning between Rs.5.00 Lakhs to Rs. 10.00 Lakhs per annum ends up more or less with a similar quality of life. So if you are just switching jobs for a few thousand more, think twice, it may not be worth it. Do not concentrate on money right now. It is not too difficult to make money. But nobody is going to pay you a higher salary because you ask for it, organizational decision making processes are far too complex. It is not how hard you work or how you please the boss that matters! I tried this for a couple of years to no effect. The crux of the matter is what "Value" you are delivering to the organization, if the Organization as a whole (at least the people who matter) sees you deliver value they have no option but to pay for it.
2. Evaluate Payoffs: - Any Company or everybody pays you to get a job done. The choice you have to make is whether you really want to do "that" Job. Here what you need to check is- are you emotionally enjoying the job. I have seen guys struggling through high-pressure and stressful sales jobs, because of incentives, commissions and Quarterly conference at plush location when they would be much happier doing a less glamorous job that they would enjoy. This is also seen in situations when people are stuck in so called "Corporate Office" positions assisting the Senior Management with their Excel or PowerPoint, although there is a glamour attached to being in the Corporate Office etc, check whether you are actually adding to your skills. You would be better off on the Shop Floor or Field Sales at a younger age.
3. Is the job utilizing your time or adding to your skill sets: - Skill sets are both technical and behavioral. For example if your talking of a Demand Planning job, a Demand Planner who has worked on SCM packages like i2 or Oracle APO/SAP APS will at the end of the day have skills which are highly valued in the job market, but not demand planning done in "Excel". Behavioral Skill sets are complex to explain but you know the usual set like Team Working, Leadership etc etc. This happens when the job offers you opportunity to meet a lot of professionals. Sometimes you choose a job if you find it adds to Behavioral Skill - after my engineering I opted to work as a Sales Person living on full commission for 6 months before my MBA, because that was a Skill I wanted and maybe because at the age 21 you can afford to take the risk.
4. What is Work Environment /Ambiance offering you: This is particularly important for youngsters. The world around us is changing, there are a lot of Indian companies, which are changing, valuing performance instead of loyalty, having global ambitions etc. Yet there are a lot of companies who are still stuck in the protectionist economy morass. Another method of evaluation is looking at lifecycle of the Company and the Products it sells.
If a company operates in a Mature or a declining market, it changes the whole worldview of the organization. The operations of these organizations would be tuned to maximizing returns in a mature or declining market through Cost Reductions- this always has cascading effect, Pay Packets, Promotions, Training Budgets or Publicity Budgets. At individual performance level, getting a 1% change in market share in a mature market is an extremely difficult job, so you may be actually struggling and putting in your best with minimal results, which can be very demoralizing. Also there are certain businesses or kinds of industries, which attract a particular kind of people.
Although at the first instance you may not realize it, in the long term you realize a cultural dissonance. In such scenarios it would you to shift immediately, if you culturally do not fit in the organization, there are three things that may happen:
a) You will never grow ? because you would at a cultural level be an outsider
b) You change yourself to make yourself culturally acceptable to the organization and repent that decision
c) You would have morphed so much trying fit yourself to the culture that you become unfit for any other organization
That in short is my line of thinking. It is quiet contrary to conventional thinking of running after Money and Position. Concentrate only on adding to your Skills Sets and Experiences. The Economy is currently booming there are new opportunities being thrown up both for professionals and entrepreneurs. So if you have the right mix of skills and experiences making money is not difficult. In fact there are a number of companies who have kept important positions vacant.
In the Economic Time dated 19th March 2005, it was reported that the position of Vice-President(Sales & Marketing) of India's largest two wheeler manufacturer has been kept vacant for more than 6 months. Amazing isn't it considering that so many marketing MBAs are minted every year.
Most importantly you should remember that all this is not very important. Career is only a means to maintain a Lifestyle and living it up is more important.
Vijay V Bhat, Mechanical Engineer and MBA from Symbiosis Centre for Management & HRD,India, currently employed as a Consultant with Infosys Technologies Ltd. The views expressed here are his and does not represent his employer. He has previously worked with manufacturing and automotive companies in India in the sales and marketing arena. He has also taught students in the Engineering and Management fields in Indian Colleges