Employability Mantras For This Decade And Next : Setting Direction For Yourself


Almost thirty percent I talk to in IT field have a vision. While some want to be CTO, others look at being an architect, SME or even a CEO and entrepreneur. The majority seventy percent does not have any vision and they live day by day, trying to understand what next. The most common action of the seventy percent is changing job as and when an opportunity comes, primarily for the reason of better salary or designation.

 Readers would wonder what is wrong with this approach. In reality, most of us keep doing wrong to such an extent that it becomes the practice and an accepted norm. Jumping out for a new job without knowing what your vision is in reality akin to getting lost in the woods without understanding the lurking dangers ahead.

A real life example would illustrate my point better. Shiva was employed with a company as a developer. Most of his time was spent in coding and testing the codes. He knew that he has yet to gain expertise but did not get enough motivation to learn more of it. His free time was for watching sports on TV and hang out with friends. Few of his friends found another job in a new company that required team leads. His connection helped him to get a new job as well. In this new job, his basic coding knowledge would be used to guide and help new developers. Right from the beginning, he found the job challenging as some of his juniors started questioning his technical abilities. Moreover his new job did not require him to get hands on with his primary skills. He ended up becoming more like a junior project manager. Whenever a new opportunity for a technical job came, Shiva found it difficult to compete. In a couple of years, his salary increased but his value decreased. In a couple of years, company in which he was employed started facing financial constraints and Shiva was amongst the twenty percent who were given the pink slip. Jobless and directionless, he started trying out in every direction to get a new job. He could not fit in a core development job any more as his hands on skills were inadequate and rusted over time. His man management skills were too rudimentary and his project management skills were simply basic. Looking at no choice, Shiva enrolled himself in technical courses but over next few years he could at best manage jobs to jobs but not growing in his career.

Shiva here reflects the majority seventy percent who would like to have quick growth in career and end up giving slip to essential learning that would help them with a strong stepping stone to next level. This can be achieved by clearly setting a direction for you with at least a five-year horizon.  Few actions that can help you in setting your direction can be as follows:

  1. Find a mentor in your organization and engage with them for guidance.
  2. Do not set constraints in your mind. If you have constraints like location, kind of role, company, designation etc, you may miss out a lot.
  3. Keep in watch out for what is hot in the technology world and what excites you as well. Finding your interest is primary to your growth.
  4. Do not quit your job if you are having good leaders and mentors and getting a good opportunity to learn. First ten years of your career must be completely invested in learning and success thereafter follows.
  5. After ten years, set your course correctly and focus on the area you plan to grow with. If you are focused on analytics, products, operations or anything alike, start investing your time and energy to hone it and create your expertise. Best jobs only come to people who have invested enough time in a particular field and not doing everything and anything.
  6. Finally, keep cheerful and spend a lot of your spare time in learning new things that would insure your future.

 Happy direction setting for your career.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by IndiasGreatest.com ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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