Nuggets from Atul Kasbekar
Transitioning from Engineering to Photography
A lot of us "go with the flow" either because we want to conform to expectations, minimize risk or don’t listen to our inner voice. Atul talks about how he was an exceptional student in school and ended up in UDCT - one of the most prestigious places to study Chemical Engineering. He talks about the disconnect he experienced at that point and how he moved forward from there.
Committing to sports as a career
Getting into professional sport can be a “low odds” decision often. If one doesn’t have the financial buffer, it is often tempting to go towards the safer option to pursue education and get a job. Viren talks candidly about how he comes from a family with no prior sports background and how he navigated some of these questions during the points of inflection when he had to take a call.
Goldman Sachs versus McKinsey
High performing B School students often get courted by the top jobs in the market and often several people having to choose between Banking and Consulting. Avnish talks about how he made the decision to join Goldman Sachs after interning at McKinsey.
IIMB, Wharton & path to Venture Investing
In a world with an exponential increase in career paths and complexity around opportunity, it can be unnerving to make key decisions around Stay in India Vs Go overseas, specialize in a field Vs Get a degree in Management etc. The multiplicity of options also makes career decisions complex when people graduate from the best of the programmes. Karthik talks about how he thought about going to Wharton after IIMB and his choice to do I Banking, Corporate Development etc till he got into Venture Investing.
Joining an Indian I-Bank after a US MBA
Amit talks about how he thought about pursuing an MBA in the US. He also goes on to talk about the considerations he had when he decided to come back to India immediately after his MBA. He also talks about how he thought about Banking as a career option picked Investment Banking as a career path (as against Trading despite his strengths in quant related topics)
Transitioning from Financial Services to Writing
So you have found your passion but undecided when and how to take the plunge? Hear Amish talk about how he transitioned to being a full time author from a banker. Discover how ‘pragmatism and positive vibes’ guided this transformation.
Transitioning from playing sport to commentating
Vijay reflects on how he transitioned to a new career as his family context changed and he approached the end of his active tennis career. He talks about how re-inventing yourself is often like throwing yourself in the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim. Perspectives that could be relevant for leaders who are trying to re-invent themselves given significant shifts in the world of work and in personal circumstances.
Transitioning across Cultures
Having moved from the army setup to the corporate world then onto a government organization and back to the corporate world, Raghu has worn many hats in his professional life. All of these shifts have involved transitioning across cultures- some well established, others being established and yet others, desperately needing a change in culture! Hear Raghu talk about how he navigated these transitions to integrate into the organization he joined.
Transitioning from the Army to the Corporate world
Raghu talks about how we could think about leveraging the pool of leadership talent that the army produces. He compares India to markets such as US, where there have been generations of Corporate Leaders who spent their early years in the Armed Forces. This is not just about providing an education around some of the elements of business. It is a complete rewiring that needs to happen.
Son of a tea planter, Papa CJ took the predictable path through school and college. Hear him walk us through his early struggles which led to him maneuvering into the challenging and non trivial transition from Oxford, to consulting, to doing 250 standup comedy shows in his first 10 months! Look out for tips on leveraging the asset of relationships that we all have.
Playing hockey to MBA@ISB
We often find ourselves in situations where the circumstances at work and on the personal front have changed significantly over time and there is a need to move onto the next innings. These are uncomfortable phases where there are no easy answers or approaches. Viren talks about how he took stock of life when he was playing hockey for India and the circumstances which led him to pursue an MBA at ISB.
Transitioning from Cummins to Microsoft
Having worked in Cummins and moved up the ladder, Ravi took up the challenge of being the CEO of Microsoft India at just 40 years of age and against the advice of family and friends. This was an industry he knew nothing about and a culture his friends thought he wouldn’t adapt to. How did he make this transition successful? What did he pay attention to? Hint: The anecdote of his interview with Bill Gates is very interesting.
Infosys to UIDAI - a 3D transition
Leadership Transitions can be a period of significant anxiety for several executives who are transitioning across contexts and domains. Nandan shares his insights around what he kept and what he changed when he transitioned across 3 dimensions when he moved from Infosys to UIDAI. He also talks about the power of commitment in such situations.
Re-inventing self and playing to potential
Given the VUCA world we live in, re-inventing oneself every now and then has become a necessity. Nandan talks about the mindset with which he has approached the various transitions he has had in his career and shares his perspective on what it takes for people to play to their potential.
Being tenacious through the transition
Transitioning from one path to another is not easy. We often celebrate individuals after they have demonstrated success. But we often miss the iceberg that is below the sea surface. Atul talks about how he persisted through multiple hurdles when he transitioned from studying Chemical Engineering to pursue photography.
Entrepreneurial pursuits beyond photography
We often have to reinvent ourselves along the way as we go through our career. There are variuos trigger points where our priorities change and market opportunities change. Atul shares his perspectives around how he has managed to go beyond Photography to venture into new domains. He shares a piece of feedback that one of his friends provides which paved the way to a new possibility.
Successful Lawyer to Successful Entrepreneur
Zia talks about the journey from being a successful lawyer leading a small boutique with 15-20 people to heading a 400-person organization today. She talks about the trade-offs involved in terms of her time and cultural implications as the organization scales.
Shaping your playground
Rama talks about the notion of identifying and playing a game that only "you" know how to play, as espoused by Prof. Indira Parikh. She talks about how she has taken consumer insights and applied it to different contexts.
Transitioning from Advertising to the Tech world
KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how he thought about the move from the world of Advertising to the world of Technology. He also speaks about the notion of staying relevant in the context of children and consumers and how one needs to be in sync with them to be able to connect with them.
Transitioning from Healthcare to Mythology
Devdutt talks about his journey after graduating with a degree in medicine. He mentions that he didn’t have any childhood inclination in Mythology and he first used the word Mythology in a deliberate sense somewhere in the 1990s. He talks about how he started gravitating towards mythology in an organic fashion including writing several books and the TED talk in 2009. He mentions that he was in the Pharma industry till about 2007 after which he became the Chief Belief Officer at Future Group and possibly committed to Mythology as a career.
Transitioning from Banking to PE
Amit talks about how he thought about the transition from the world of Investment Banking to Private Equity. He talks about taking stock of life after reaching the heights of the Investment Banking profession and also seeking more time to devote to some of the other elements in his life such as Social Impact.
Choosing career direction post CRISIL
Roopa talks about how she took stock of options after her successful run in CRISIL. She talks about the process she went through to first eliminate what options may not make sense for her before she ended up choosing to join Omidyar Network. She talks about having informal discussions with ~45 people over a 9 month period to get directional clarity on what might make sense for her.
Flexing leadership style at Omidyar Network
Roopa talks about how she had to adjust her leadership style when she moved from leading a team of 4000 plus people in CRISIL to Omidyar Network which had about 150 people globally and about 15-20 people in India. She discusses the power of listening, learning and tapping into the internal network to come upto speed and build credibility with the organization.
Early career choices - Law, Journalism, Teaching and Writing
Vinay talks about how he has thought about his career choices. He speaks about the fact that after his 12th, he could have possibly become an architect instead of a Lawyer. He also talks about his thinking at each of the transition points where he made critical choices (Law versus Architecture, Law to Journalism, Journalism to study PhD in Politics). He also talks about how he thinks more about the quality of the product he creates with his diverse backgrounds than sweat about the notion of his identity.
Staying relevant through transitions
Vinay talks about how Narasimha Rao stayed relevant through the various transitions that he went through in his journey. He also talks about how he learns and grows when he did not gets a transition wrong. He also talks about how Narasimha Rao re-invented himself when Congress moved from the Indira Gandhi phase to the Rajiv Gandhi where the core group had several people from an Oxbridge background (far from Narasimha Rao’s comfort zone).
Picking the first "mountain" to climb
Deepa talks about how she took charge of life and how she became a restauranteur and in seven years, had built a flourishing business giving her financial independence. She then talks about her passion for biking and how she wanted to create records on a bike to ensure that her voice is heard and for her to be able to have an impact on Society.
Making Directional Choices
Jayashri talks about how she made choices along the way, more specifically, the choice between going deep into Carnatic music versus collaborating with different art forms. She also speaks about how she has learnt from collaborating with other artists and how that has improved her core art form – Carnatic Music
Reinventing oneself at 45
Arun talks about how he was a cross-roads when he had to move from a successful stint as an executive in Tata Motors to a role as a consultant with Arthur D Little in the United States. He talks about the circumstances in which he took the decision (including a nudge from JRD Tata) and how he had to adjust his style to be effective in a new professional and cultural context. It is not very often that you see a leader transition from being a Business Leader to a Business Consultant.
Transitioning to solo-preneurship
Indranil talks about his challenges in transmitting some of the elements of the credo he had crafted as the head of Marketing and Strategy of his organization. He underscores the risks of abstraction when we craft values such as honesty, excellence, customer-delight etc. and adorn the walls. He takes the example of a story to illustrate the point “no room for ordinary” a value they were trying to live in his company. He goes on to share how he transitioned to the world of story-telling and reflects on some of his early lessons in solo-preneurship.
Picking the first job after IIM
Campus placements are often a pressure cooker situation with significant sub-optimality in how students end up making career choices. Prakash discusses how one should pick the first job after campus based on some reflection on what they like doing.
Career planning 2.0 for graduates
In this rapidly changing world, Ravi has three main nuggets of wisdom for graduates who are thinking about their careers and professional life ahead. How has the view of a ‘career’ changed over time and what is the best way to think about it today? What qualities should one spend time cultivating and nurturing? Hear on.
Educating ourselves (and link with leadership of the future)
We are growing into a future where there are several unkown unknowns. Pramath talks about what sort of leaders would flourish in the new paradigm and how one should think about education in the context of this broad trend.
Navigating the sea of career options
"What should I do with my life" is often a question that we grapple with at different inflection points in our life. Vinita talks about the various dimensions along which she evaluates opportunities that have come her way at different points in her journey.
Building optionality during early career
Dheeraj talks about the distinction between process and substance in the context of making career choices. He also talks about how he built optionality at various points in his early career.
Message to graduating women
Anu shares her perspectives on how aspiring women leaders should think about their careers. She underscores the point about the need for having the right mentors and sponsors along the way.
Early career choices - Medical Rep/Painting/Advertising
KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how he thought about an early fork in the road where he had to choose between disparate options in front of him. One was to become a Medical Representative which was highly lucrative in those days, Second was to become a Drawing teacher and the third was to pursue art in the world of advertising. He discusses how he walked the tightrope where the mind and heart were pulling him in different directions.
Career - getting off to a good start
Suresh talks about how serendipity got him to Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL). He speaks about initially appearing for the interview as practice for the IAS entrance but provides context on why he joined HLL eventually. He provides an interesting insight on how he thought about the trade-offs and risks at that point in time. He also speaks about how one should think about navigating their career through a large corporation during the early years where it is easy to get lost in the maze.
Overemphasizing fit in a career choice
Mouli talks about how he has made some of his early career moves based on the notion of fit. He also acknowledges that there is often an information asymmetry here and uses surrogate sources (profiles of others who have gone there and succeeded) of data as a means of determining if he would belong. He also emphasizes the criticality of focusing on learning rather than earning to drive professional growth over the long-term.
Growing through the ranks at CRISIL
Roopa talks about how she drifted into CRISIL and how she was not necessarily career oriented in the early years of her professional life. She talks about the notion of focusing on excellence and on topics that are outside the realm of responsibility and how the culture at CRISIL ensured that her efforts were noticed and rewarded. She also talks about the transformative impact that one of her overseas stints had on her in terms of developing a “bird’s eye view”.
Early formative years
Neera talks about how her early years in a Boarding school in Bangalore (while her parents were in Canada) shaped her as a person and gave her a grounded understanding of India despite her parents immigrating to Canada after graduating from IIT Kharagpur.
Investment Banking as a career and key transitions
Vedika discusses her perspectives on Investment Banking as a career and how B-School students should think about the option. On a related note, she talks about the wrong reasons for which people often end up joining Banking. She also lays out the key inflection points in the journey.
Strategy and Careers
Tarun talks about developments in the field of Strategy and maps that to how individuals should think about their careers. He acknowledges the influence of Prof. Ben Jones (of Northwestern University) in shaping his thinking here. He talks about the fact that the world of knowledge is growing exponentially and we will know less and less (as a percentage) of what is to be known. He discusses how people should think about specialization and collaboration in this context and shares his perspective on the mind-set with which we should march into the future that can feel overwhelming.
Harsh realities of Writing
For every famous sportsperson, there are hundreds who didn’t make it big. For every published author, there are hundreds who met rejection after rejection. How does one deal with being in a profession where a few “winners take it all”? Hear Amish talk about the reality of being an author and how his initial rejections made him go against the grain and market his books innovatively.
What does it take to be an Author
In this nugget, Amish elaborates on the one important question you should ask yourself before transitioning to a new profession. For eight years before he switched to becoming a full time author, Amish focused on only three things- his job, his writing and his family. What drove this level of discipline and commitment? Hear on.
Armed Forces as a career option
Capt. Raghu Raman, shares his perspectives on a career in the armed forces. Listen to the three main reasons he gives you as to why the army can prepare you to tackle the battlefield of business and life!
Stand-Up: Unknown Unknowns
Think you need to know all about a career before you dive right in? Not necessarily! Papa CJ talks about how the world of stand up was a blank slate for him and all he had was his excitement and eagerness to pursue it. Sometimes all it needs is the drive and the resilience. Hint: Look out for what makes stand-up comedy the one profession where ‘failure is the only way to succeed’ according to Papa CJ.
Joining OGQ – Role of serendipity
Viren shares his insights around how he joined OGQ after ISB. When I graduated from IIMA, a lot of us including me, didn’t have a clear framework to make a considered choice in terms of direction. Viren talks about the role of serendipity in how he ended up joining OGQ. He actually talks about how he almost ended up joining a corporate role before he joined OGQ. He also talks about how he has “taken the plunge” at crucial junctures in his life.
Lessons from a journey in Stand-Up
In this fast paced, interconnected world around us, we often have less time and space to think quietly and listen to our inner voice. In this nugget, Papa CJ shares his perspectives around preparing for success and how one needs to grow in the dark so as to play to potential.
Career in Consumer Goods
People often equate Consumer Goods with Sales and Marketing. Finding your first job after an MBA can be confusing with people often resorting to using compensation as the sorting factor. Prakash sheds some light on how people could think about a career in Consumer Goods
Misconceptions around Venture Investing
Avnish talks about the realities of VC investing as a profession and debunks some of the common myths around a "cushy lifestyle" that some people associate with the profession.
Academics as a career
Did you always know which profession you wanted to pursue? Our career is often shaped by an opportunity that we seize on the way. Prof. Kartik Hosanagar talks about how academia came by as a career choice while he was researching options for his postgraduate education. Named as the world’s top 40 business professors under 40, he certainly seems to have made the right choice!
Highs and Lows in Academics
Interested in the academic world? Kartik reveals some important questions you should ask yourself and elaborates on some qualities you should possess before embarking on this path. Academia, according to Kartik, is ‘entrepreneurial without the risk profile of an entrepreneur!’ In this nugget, he also discusses some professional highs and lows that face an academician.
Surprises in the Academic path
We often choose a career without having much idea of what the reality is like. Often times, people who like team work take up jobs that may require long solitary hours. In this nugget, Kartik reveals a couple of surprises that people encounter on the path to becoming an academician.
Reflections on Politics as a career
All of us have had situations where we step way out of our comfort zone. Nandan talks about his experience from contesting the elections in Bangalore and why he moved on from Politics after that experience.
Venture Investing - What does it take
Karthik talks about what it takes to become a successful Venture Capital Investor. He also discusses the nuances across Angel Investing, Venture Investing and Private Equity Investing. Each of these often requires a different set of skills and strengths. People often club all these Investing roles into one large umbrella but there is a significant difference in the type of person that would enjoy and flourish in one versus the other.
Consulting (McKinsey) as a career option
Pramath talks about how he ended up joining McKinsey in Canada instead of pursuing a career in academics which he had originally intended when he completed his PhD. He also talks about how students should think about evaluating consulting as a potential career option including the common mistakes people make when they consider a career in consulting.
What Consulting doesn't prepare you for
Management Consulting often provides a whirl-wind exposure to multiple problems across industries and topics. However, one needs to significantly adapt the style while moving from a consulting environment to the Industry. Pramath talks about some of the adjustments consultants have to make when they enter the corporate world.
Consumer Goods (FMCG) as a career option
Vinita talks about how she got into a career in Consumer Goods and reflects on what elements of it have been rewarding for her. She also talks about the key questions people should ask themselves before embarking on a career in a Products company.
Law as a career choice
Zia talks about what it takes to be a successful lawyer. She also teases out the difference between traits that are good hygiene in any profession and what is specific to law. She also talks about how optionalities have changed over time for people with a law background.
Career in Market Research
Rama talks about how she ended up joining Market Research by accident after joining the Advertising world. She talks about the notion of "sliding doors" where small events along the way can have a significant impact on the overall trajectory and outcomes.
Perspectives around career choice
Dheeraj discusses his perspectives on how students and professionals should think about choices and learning. He underscores the criticality of having unfettered curiosity across disciplines similar to Da Vinci who showed equal curiosity to matters of art and science across disciplines.
Career in Consulting versus Banking
Anu talks about the transitions she went through within Banking before she entered the world of consulting. She also talks about the questions people should ask themselves to see if a career in consulting makes sense for them.
Committing to Chess as a career
Vishy talks about how he thought about committing to a career in Chess. He specifically talks about how he didn’t stop his education despite his meteoric rise in the Chess world. He spoke about why he still pursued his undergraduate degree in Commerce on the sides despite his successes on the Chess board on a Global stage. He also talks about the criticality of building social and emotional skills from education and the criticality of open-ness to learning as we navigate the careers of the future.
Advertising as a career option
KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about the inherent traits one should possess to flourish in the world of advertising. He talks about the notion of story-telling relating it to how children lie but get away with it because of the innocence. He also alludes to the criticality of understanding the client business, socio-cultural trends and a nuanced understanding of human behavior to flourish in the industry.
Politics as a career option
Jay talks about the criticality of financial independence if somebody is considering a career in politics. He also talks about some of the fundamental disconnects between the world of business and politics and how that can lead to challenges in people from the world of business settling into the world of politics.
Factors behind the rise at DSP Merrill Lynch
Amit reflects on the common misconceptions people have when they get into Banking. Amit talks about how he made the decision to join DSP Merrill Lynch despite it being the job with the lowest pay and title. He also talks about how he leveraged his style of building deep authentic relationships with clients to grow over time. He also talks about the role of early bosses and brutal developmental feedback coupled with mentorship from Hemendra Kothari which have played a key role in his growth as a Banker.
Apprenticeship - the magic sauce in Private Equity
Amit talks about what it takes to build a sustainable Private Equity business over the long term. He also talks about the criticality of apprenticeship in people growing to become effective investors. He talks about three things that investors need to get right (people bets, strategy bets and timing) and how that evolves over time. He also discusses what it takes to transition to Investing as a profession and how he evolved from Investor 1.0 to Investor 2.0 during his tenure at Bain Capital.
Playing the 1st half of career to win the 2nd half
Mouli discusses that a lot of the wins in the first half of the career are often on the back of low hanging fruit but the wins in the second half are often harder. He mentions that apart from solving for successes in the first half, we should all build the muscle and resilience to be able to go after the complex win or the high hanging fruit. And that sometimes might require us to go slow and learn than run fast and miss out on building this muscle.
Winning the Second half of career
Mouli talks about how people need to consider evolving the metrics with which they measure their success as they move towards the second half of their career. He strongly advocates the notion of helping others succeed as a means of driving your own success.
Making early career choices
Ambi talks about how he has approached some of career choices. He specifically talks about some context behind moving to IIMC after IITM and then after graduating from IIM Calcutta, he discusses how he spent some time on the Agency side and the Client side before committing to a direction with the Agency world at FCB Ulka.
Path to becoming a Historian
Dr. Guha speaks about his journey from playing cricket for St. Stephens (along with players like Kirti Azad who played for India and was part of the 1983 World Cup winning Cricket team) to pursuing a PhD in IIM Kolkata to eventually becoming a historian. He talks about the context behind some of the choices along the way and talks about the role of chance at various inflection points.
Being a historian - what it takes
Dr. Guha shares his perspectives around some of the elements behind being an effective historian. He talks about how his early years in cricket prepared him for the grind of being a historian and refers to the criticality of an independent mind and the ability to articulate complex thoughts in everyday language. He also gives us a glimpse into the rhythm of his typical day, especially in the mornings.