Friday, August 26, 2011

Do what you love or love what you do

This morning on my way to work - while stuck in terrible traffic - I got thinking about my work years. In January this year, I completed eight years of slogging it out across three companies (four-and-a-half of those years at the current company). And the only thought I had was: "What if I had another career? An alternative profession?".

My primary role has been in the Human Resources space, and more significantly into recruitment. Not the easiest or the best job in the world, but somehow landed myself doing something not by choice. One of the questions I'd ask any young candidate is: "What's your dream job?". Many would give boring and stupid answers. "To become a manager"; "to lead a large team" and so on. Very rarely, someone would have an idealistic "to have a job that pays me to travel - photography, blogging". And the sometimes enthusiastic "to report from a LIVE Formula One race" or "to interview the biggest names on the world map".

So what would be my dream job? And it pained me to think I never ever had a "dream job". Sure, I've had plans to become a teacher, a nun (omg!), an air-hostess, an actor-dancer (totally closet, can't act-dance to save my life), and various such random roles. But nothing that I yearned for. Also, I had never really held a summer job or an internship, except for working with Akbarally's (a 3-outlet chain of department stores that existed before malls became a reality in Mumbai. By the way, the place has shut down now) as an 'announcer' (or 'voice-over', if you prefer). Those three months were fun, especially since my work day started only after 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and I was paid a princely sum of Rs. 3000 monthly way back then. I had to quit because I had enrolled into a fulltime management diploma (again, not my choice. But grateful to my mother who thought it was important then.). 

January 2003 marked my first job. At a recruitment consultancy that had started a specialised BPO arm to counter and cash in on the 'call centre' boom. That job paid poorly, but I couldn't complain considering I was unemployed for four months thanks to a mini-recession that did not throw up suitable opportunities. While I didn't particularly enjoy my work there, I don't know what I'd have done without that experience. I interviewed tons of people day in and day out over the phone; conducted walk-in interviews; coordinated with nasty clients and still had nothing to show in the 'results' column. Simply because the attrition rate in the call centres was ridiculously high. I would 'close' a candidate and the next thing I know is he has decided to join some other place for more money. Frustrating!

Soon, I had to move on. Things were just not working out, and I wasn't even able to focus on a proper job search for myself. About a month later, I found myself working for an actual company. The day I joined, we were 206 employees, and I was to assist the HR team with the hiring function. The advantage I had here was that I was no longer an external recruiter, so I could call candidates with more confidence and 'sell' the job better. Also, I had a great boss. She would stand up for us as a team, and was always encouraging of my efforts. The colleagues - except one - were quite nice too. And then a new manager was brought in. I had to report to her and I really couldn't stand much of her. Oh, but she desperately needed me to be on her team even when the opportunity for me to move into a generalist position arose. Anyway, I still value the experience I had here, and most importantly, the friendships that were formed. Some of the people who worked with me there are very dear to me. 

Work Desk No. 4 - been moved around to 5 spots officially in as many years 
After more than 2 years, I decided to move on. Two reasons: one, I was saturated and couldn't see any growth beyond what I was already doing. And two, the next job offer was attractive - not in money terms, but in terms of the challenge. And so I quit an 800+ people 'growing' company to join a small 30 people 'growing' firm. Call it a leap of faith or just plain insane, the truth is I knew who ran the place, so had a level of comfort getting into this. 

Finally, here I am... Four and a half years down the line, this has been some journey. I can't even begin to explain what I feel for this place and the people. Yes, there have been some lows - but that's a given for the time (and not just in terms of years, but actual time) spent at the office. Also, I have a very emotional bond with the company which is very hard to describe, and also the worst thing to have. 

Somehow, I always knew this would be for the long haul. Until a few months ago. Today, I no longer work in the HR space. It wasn't my decision, but keeping in mind the company's growth plans and what my skills could offer, I took up the new role. A *challenge* really considering it involves a fresh set of responsibilities; a large-ish team that reports into me; some new areas that are completely intimidating. And the weight of expectations which scares me. Even today.

This week has been good. I've been able to put my thoughts together on certain pieces. Plus the boss has been kind enough to grant me an audience and help me with prioritising my tasks. He is kind, no?

But the biggest achievement yet? I've never regretted working here. NEVER. And I hope it stays that way for as long as it can.

PS: Had written most of the first half in the first week of January 2011, and I just discovered it lying in my drafts. But I guess the sentiment is still quite relevant. Edited to keep it more current. Hopefully, I will live to blog about my fifth anniversary on 8th January, 2012. :)

#ABC POSTCARD 25/31

1 Replies:

Pramod Prasad said...

I have read a few of your blog posts and found them delightfully thoughtful and in sync with my start-up's values, so much that I'd like to ask: Would you be interested in writing the occasional guest column for us?

By us, I mean Jodi365.com, a new relationship building site that we just launched, catering especially to educated, quality singles. We are introducing the "Jodi365 Journal" as an additional way to engage our users, through interesting and helpful discussions on various aspects of life. For recent entries, albeit in the preliminary layout, please see Jodi365.com/blog.

If the possibilities interest or intrigue you, I would love to discuss them in depth. Please write back to me at your convenience.

Regards,

Pramod Prasad

pramod.prasad@freeelective.com

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