Career Management – A personal story

I have always wanted to be my own boss. In Oct 2000, 4 years after my graduation and 1 year after joining Microsoft in US, I left to start my own company in India. It all seemed perfect: I was a ‘smart’ developer working in a ‘cutting-edge technology’ area, I had a ‘network’, and most importantly, I had the ‘energy and enthusiasm’ of a 27 year old who thinks the world is his playground!

Six months later, the boom turned into bust, and so did our hopes of starting a new company. I found a job as a consultant in my old company and life continued, but it left a scar. I have been reflecting on that little experience over the years and I realize something important: it was a good failure. I didn’t know anything about creating and running a company – building teams, execute on a vague idea to build products, sell an idea or product or service, or handling big successes and failures. This failure provided me a strong motivation to embark on a journey through the corporate world to gain diverse experiences and learn. In my next attempt at entrepreneurship, I wanted to be able to succeed even when riding against the wave. I wanted to make that scar count.

After 12 years, I am leaving Microsoft in US, again, to start my own company in India, again. As planned, I have gained many experiences in these 12 years: building a team from scratch, conceptualize and deliver amazing products, running team across multiple disciplines (development, test, and program management), and working in 3 big economies of the world (China, US, India). I also have a much more humble opinion of myself and more confidence in my ability to build and run a company. Of course, I am much older now, but I take comfort from the writings of Vivek Wadhwa who presents The Case for Old Entrepreneurs!

My career choices for last 12 years have been shaped by a few simple rules:

  1. Be clear about what I love, what I am passionate about, and what I am strong in.
  2. Make sure my learning is aligned to what I love AND what my goals are
  3. Stay in the role as long as my learning is more than the time I am spending to learn
  4. Believe that it is more fruitful to invest and focus on the process (which I control) rather than outcome (which I don’t)
  5. Plan my career, but be open for opportunities and serendipity

I plan to apply them as I embark on this new journey. I love working with and people and helping them succeed in their career and life beyond their own imagination. I am passionate about helping students and working professionals choose right career paths that align with their own strengths and passions. So while I need to figure out the best way to provide value through my organization, my explorations over next 6-9 months will be around the area of career management for students, working professionals; individually as well as in the context of organizations.

I am going to live my dream and use the definition Coach Wooden gave for success:

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable”.

Are you living your dream?

9 Replies to “Career Management – A personal story”

  1. Hi Mritunjay,
    We wish you very good luck for your Second Innings 🙂
    I am sure with diverse experience that you carry you would be very sucessful….
    Let us know if we can be helpful in anyway….

    Best Wishes….

    Cheers,
    Chandresh

  2. Good luck with your venture Kumar!
    I couldn’t quite get point 3?!
    3. Stay in the role as long as my learning is more than the time I am spending to learn

    1. #3 is a statement of ROI, just that there are no ready measures for it. Learning takes time, but if it takes too long, it may not be right use of the that time. So for example, if I want to learn how to learn C#, and it is going to take 2 years in my current role (because I never write code more complicated than ‘hello world’), it may not be worth it; but if I am dropped into a complex project with 2 month deadline, it is a great use of my time since I learn it in 2 months. It is hard to say what is a good timeframe for a given learning (talking to mentors/peers/friends helps a lot) though. Another way I have used this rule is to give myself a period of time (say 1 year) and figure out how much I can learn and see if it is significant enough; if not, something needs to change (my role, my responsibilties, or my company! :)).

  3. Kumar, I wish you all the best in your new endeavor. It’s inspiring to see someone leave the “comforts” of a large company like Microsoft and set off on your own path.

  4. Wish you the best in all your endeavors.

    India for sure needs mentors – young grads are no real world insight, gained from academics are contributing to a “worker pool”. Your expertise and guidance will surely help a couple to make the difference needed!

    +Shashi

  5. After reading couple of your articles i firmly believe that you are a true leader and mentor. This quality give you great success in your new endeavor.

    Wish you all the very best sir.

    -Umesh

  6. Hello Sir ,
    I require some genuine career counselling for my younger brother who has just given his 12th board from CBSE.He has taken PCM but he doesnt seem well prepared to go ahead with engineering.
    We belong to Deoghar,Jharkhand and there is not much awareness about career beyond B.E.
    Please let me know how should I direct his career so that he makes a good future. Regarding his strength, it lies in current affairs, Chemistry,somewhat in Maths.Physics is his weakness.
    I anticipate your response 🙂
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Namrata,
      You can drop me a mail at futuresense.wp@gmail.com to discuss this in more detail. Here are some suggestions based on your descriptions:
      1. It is very important to identify what areas of study he likes best before proceeding in a non-engineering direction. You should explore various options available, and check with him to see which one sounds interesting, and then get details about those. There are many websites offering the list of courses, see for example http://www.youngbuzz.com/colleges-guide.
      2. These sites also offer career queries answers free of cost, you can try those too. In addition, they also have career assessment tests (which personally I don’t think are useful) which may be useful for some.
      3. There is no substitute for hard work – all courses require it, so while trends are important to know (IT sells these days, civil engineering from a C grade college doesn’t), it is important to be willing to put in 4 years of hard work after getting admitted in college. So it is important to pick a course in which student has the passion so that he can sustain hard work for 4 years without giving up (or getting distracted by big city charms!).

      Hope this is somewhat helpful. Drop me an email if I can provide further help. Good luck for your brother’s career.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s