- Book Name: Career Rules
- Author: Sonay dutta Choudhury
- Pages: 231
- Size: 3 MB
In February 1992, I got a job offer from the multinational bank ANZ Grindlays. This was thrilling for me. I was a student of IIM Calcutta then, about to complete my post-graduate diploma in business management in March of that year. ANZ Grindlays was a Day One company and considered a dream employer – it paid well and provided its employees with luxurious chummeries or shared flats like in sea-facing buildings in Mumbai. I couldn’t believe my luck at being selected. Little did I know that much of this would change, and in just a few months. It began (and ended) with nine, innocuous pieces of paper.
In May 1992, one month before the newly recruited management trainees were to start work, nine cheques totalling to a sum of ₹506 crore were credited to a Grindlays customer known as the ‘Big Bull’. This was none other than the notorious Harshad Mehta, a stockbroker who shot to fame for having made fortunes by manipulating the markets with money he borrowed from banks. The trouble began when the markets crashed and Mehta ran out of money. His cheques bounced, signalling the devastating end of a share market bull run. Suddenly, the music stopped. ANZ Grindlays, along with Big Bull Harshad Mehta, were left holding the baby.
Mehta was thrown into jail for his part in the affair, and he died soon after. Grindlays received a hard rap on the knuckles from banking regulator Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for allowing this to happen. The bank also became involved in a law suit and stood to lose ₹506 crore. Not surprisingly, the bank went into shell shock. Now here’s where fifty-two young management trainees walked in. I was one of them. Hired by the bank in its heyday, we were redundant even before we arrived. To their credit, the bank did try to keep on as if nothing had happened. My life meandered through training, followed by a stint as marketing manager in a branch, after which I became part of one of the groups that was set to work on cleaning up the organizational cupboards.
While the bank did for us the best it could under the circumstances, I personally felt like I wasn’t achieving anything, or even contributing to the world in any meaningful way. And just like that, for me, the best of jobs went awry. I chose to leave soon after. The choice took me away from the world of banking and into the worlds of marketing, exports, education, and then journalism. Through these I met youngsters and experts from varied walks of life, and they shared with me their career stories. This drew me to what may be the most important question of the twenty-first century: What do you do? It’s a question that gets asked a lot. In drawings rooms, at dinner parties, next to bus stops, in airport lounges, anywhere where people hang out. The follow-up to this question is of course: Why do you do what you do?
This book tries to answer both these questions, through stories. These are stories I have collected over the years. They are a part of the Get-aglimpse series I have been privileged to write for Mint, the business daily published by Hindustan Times Media. Writing this column, I have had the good fortune of meeting an incredible number of talented professionals. They have ranged from eighteen-year-old interns to sixty-year-old CEOs. They’ve talked to me at length about their choices. What made them choose the profession they did? What are the skills they needed to develop to succeed in their professions? Each question led to another question. Like, what is the worst part of life as a management consultant? (Answer: Living out of a suitcase.) What is the most glamorous part of being a hotelier? (Answer: Working with Gauri and Shah Rukh Khan on the detailing involved in private parties.) I hope that reading these stories will give you a flavour of their work and, more importantly, their approach to work. I’ve picked a selection of forty-odd stories from the few hundred professionals I have interviewed over the last seven years. I’ve grouped them into fourteen different career clusters. But the clusters are only approximate.
Because today, more than ever before, the lines between different careers are all so blurred. As you will see from some of the stories here, you can specialize in big data or computers, and then work in healthcare. You can study law or finance, and then work for the government. Jobs and work roles are constantly being disrupted. Many jobs have actually disappeared. Robots and computer software have taken over, replacing manual work like loading, sorting and manufacturing.
With artificial intelligence and development of specialized software like image and speech recognition, many skilled jobs like those of accountants, lawyers and even doctors are also being taken away by machines. Driverless cars are already gliding their way down the freeways of Silicon Valley. And soon, chatbots will replace customer service managers. But this disruption has also brought in opportunities for people who can spot them. Because no matter what your area of interest is – sports, entertainment, computers or finance – there are careers out there waiting for you. With machines to do the repetitive physical and mental part of our jobs, there is now more scope for creativity. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. It’s also a great time to be in data analytics, healthcare, artificial intelligence, education, and so many other avenues (both the mainstream and niche varieties). Read on to know about the hottest careers of the future, how to pick them and how to excel at them.
And don’t worry, it’s not all serious discussion and advice – you will find movie recommendations on different careers too! Movies and books are often a good place to begin. Does the character of Shah Rukh Khan in the 2016 film Dear Zindagi, for instance, accurately represent what a personal counsellor does? Does the television series House MD show what a doctor’s life is like? Read Michael Lewis’s books for a fascinating peek into Wall Street. And so on… Apart from movies and television series to watch, I’ve also included lots of recommendations on books to read. In addition, I’ve aassembled interview questions to be prepared for and outlined many career hacks that can help you. Use these resources to help you choose a career wisely, or do better in the career you have chosen.
Choose wisely. Choose well. As the great Chinese thinker Confucious said: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. As for me, I now have three children, work from home, write and read, review books, interview people, run a book club – all the things that I love. ANZ Grindlays no longer exists, bought over by Standard Chartered, and banking is no longer as hot as it was. And all this in less than a lifetime. So the choices I made, made a huge difference to my life. Read on for the stories on other people’s choices, people who are more successful than me.
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