Learnings On The Job…Taking Home A Career

This is my 100th post, hurrah!!! Please feel free to rate the post and leave comments, if the posts interest you :).

Looking back at the 21/2 years that I spent in the strategic marketing role, I tried to think of what I took away from the experience and here are some thoughts…

1. Joining a “startup” group within a large company is not same as joining a “startup” – Remember, it is still a large company. (Note: Subsidiaries and some “startup” groups might be exceptions, but, hardly!). A startup within or outside a large organization is always hard work, there is always reputation to prove and establish with customers inside or outside. The thing to know is, in return for the security of the large group and the subsequent de-risking, the upside is never yours to share (which is fair, by the way). Having said that, the chaos, the adrenaline rush of making things work is definitely there for those who love that.

2. Always evaluate what you are learning vs where you want to go – Map your short and mid-term career path. These should be available in your organization and there should be a reasonable process in place to get there. If not, you are at the wrong place, to begin with. This was such a glaring fact in my case, with the market not being in India. For more details read my previous post here.

3. Look at the size and location of the market that the group will address as an opportunity – the favorable order should be starting with a local, large market going down to a remote, small market. Unless you want to eventually convert the remote location into your local residence. In which case, it might be ok to make that sacrifice of night-outs and family time.

4. Stay focussed, learn a “few” things well – Focussing and learning to do a “few” things very well can be much more fruitful than attempting to learn many things at the same time. You can experiment a bit and figure out a couple of things that interest you, but after a few of months it is always better to focus. More so in our group’s case, where the temptation to get into too many things was always there. Truth being told, it is always easier to sell depth vs diversity whether you are looking for a new job or talking to the VC about a startup. (Aside: If you have both to some extent, great! But, I’m referring to a choice, if you have to make one. Also, some will not know what they like most upfront, which is ok. Knowing that you are diversifying for the sake of finding what to focus is a “good” focus in itself. But, most importantly, be honest to yourself.)

These are just a few generic ones that I can think of, right now. I shall keep posting more thoughts as they come along. As they say, sometimes a contrast serves the purpose of a “light” better than the visibility the most powerful light can render.

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2 Responses to “Learnings On The Job…Taking Home A Career”


  1. 1 Anasthaesium February 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    “Always evaluate what you are learning vs where you want to go – Map your short and mid-term career path. These should be available in your organization and there should be a reasonable process in place to get there. If not, you are at the wrong place, to begin with. This was such a glaring fact in my case, with the market not being in India”

    Are you suggesting that if one wants to pursue niche markets, say the “Maritime” sector”, one would be better off trying to study in Denmark and Norwegian countries?

    Would’t that pigeonhole you if you later found out that your heart is not in it?

    What I am trying to reflect on is that planning one’s career with a so-far-in-the-future view might often be detrimental to being open to opportunities and having that flexibility to capitalise on those opportunities. Rather, I feel that one should be alert to opportunities as and when they may arise and keeping their options open until they find something really passionate to work on.

  2. 2 sree March 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for writing in. One cannot follow one’s passion with a fear of being pigeon-holed later. If you read what I was trying to say, it was that there are levels at which you can know what the state of the industry you are entering is and what kinds of roles are possible. Not doing that homework is not good to begin with and even after you enter the industry, if you keep looking at possible career progression you can figure out where you can and cannot go and hence, make your choices accordingly.

    And, in terms of niche technologies, lets take nanotechnology for example, the kind of research that happens in India and that happens in other places like US or Europe is significantly different and if you want to pursue a career in nanotechnology, you are better off being where the heart of the research is happening, rather than elsewhere!


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