Industry insights

Career Transition: Plan Well and Succeed in Every Transition

After 25 years of full time corporate job and half of that in one of the best companies in the world Wipro I am making a career shift to become an independent consultant. Will divide my time between education sector and leadership development for corporates. I thought of sharing my experience of how I prepared for this shift, the support from my family, the long period of mixed feelings of joy and hollowness as I worked thru the separation with my boss, peers, reportees and the organization. Instead of sending a regular good bye email to Wiproites I thought of writing this blog on my career shift which can become a useful reference to be saved for future use.
Anchoring your career transition with a cause : The desire to contribute beyond self can come to us at any stage of our lives and one should look for that cause before making a shift. While it may come at any stage, it is seen that usually it comes or amplifies in the forties and that is what happened to me few years ago when I was invited to a college to address the students on their graduation ceremony. I was escorted like a king to the auditorium, welcomed on the stage by the principle, flower bouquet by impeccably dressed student, thunderous claps every few minutes on anything I said and a momento (mostly lord ganesha or goddess saraswati) at the end by the chairman (mostly in white Lenin shirt with more gold than the goddess). Very soon I got invited to another college (principles have their own private network) and in a span of 2 months I had been to 4 colleges. It was great to be treated like a king every few weeks in a new college but all this joy started to fade into sadness and concern. I came to know that most of the students who were giving me those thunderous claps will have nothing to clap after their graduation as only 10% of them will get placed from campus in those colleges and rest will be on their own to find a job. I started declining new invitations as those thunderous claps were hitting me hard inside. I could feel the hollowness in those claps from the helpless students.
The Porcupine Story : Most of you may have heard about the story of the porcupine who puts his head in the hole thinking that the storm will pass and I thought I was also behaving like a porcupine. The storm of unemployed youth will not go away by me not going to the colleges but if I really have to do something I should start taking some action. So I started accepting those invitations again and at the end of my speech I offered the students to help with guidance, coaching, training on weekends. As I started helping the students I saw their confidence go up and many of them clearing interviews/getting jobs. I started experiencing the joy of helping which cannot be described but has to be experienced. It then become a regular affair to go to colleges, help students and feel the joy. : As more and more students started seeking my support I was lucky to get few volunteers who joined me in this cause and we created the website which has all the things that a student will need to prepare for getting a job. We started using this website as the base for the sessions with the students and the whole approach became very structured.
Faculty Program : Looking at the way we helped students in a nice structured way many colleges started asking for a similar structure for their faculty development. The idea was that if we can make the faculties better at teaching, the student will become better and it can help improve the employability. Wipro has already done phenomenal work on this through their Mission 10X initiative. This was the time I felt that I should attempt to make a bigger impact by creating a deep structured journey based program with some like-minded people who I got associated over the period of time.
Our Identity : The organization we work for becomes a major part of our identity over a period of time and we should prepare ourselves for loosing that identify while making the shift. It will take a while for us and the people around us to be seen without the organization. I come from a Marwari community and in my community most people know me as “Yogesh Wipro Wala” instead of “Yogesh Agiwal”. For many years my last name has got replaced by Wipro and imagine me without my last name Wipro. While in long run you will once again relish the time you spent with the organization but there will be a period of hollowness without the organization tag with you.
Enrolling your Family : I think one of the most important thing while one plans to make such a shift is to enroll the family. While one may be passionate about the shift, the family may not necessarily have the same intensity. They will need to make many adjustments from time to time on daily routines (they will start seeing you more often than before) to financial spending to our identify in the society.
Financial Commitment : Most of us love the thrill of buying properties and the thought of paying multiple EMIs does not really bother till we hit our forties. Having too many EMIs will become a hurdle in the shift so keep a watch on this from early years of our career. So for last couple of years when people asked me in Hindi “Kuch liya kya” (did you buy any property) I would tell them “Lene ka nahin ab dene Ka Time hai” (it is time to give and not buy anymore).
Commitment with your Boss and Organization : It is very unlikely that your timing of career shift and the completion of projects in the organization will match. So one should make a conscious effort to complete all the projects on hand and slow down on taking new projects. It is also important to enroll your boss and keep him/her updated on the work you do on weekends over the years so that when you decide to make the switch there are no surprises. Similarly enroll your reportees and peers over a period of time.
Few other Things : The support systems like travel desk, IT help desk, facilities management support etc. that we take for granted will no longer be there. It is important to plan on creating a office space with printer, scanner, white board and so on when you are on your own. The idea is to think thru each small thing that you will miss once you leave the organization. While the desire of career shift may be really strong and driving you to make the shift but not doing proactive planning on each such thing can become an irritant / speed breaker on the momentum with which you can otherwise work.
Hope you find this blog useful. Do share your thoughts.

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