Nuggets from Vinita Bali
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Taking stock of life after Bazee sale
When Avnish started Baazee, his financial goal was to make USD 2 Million. When he sold Baazee to Ebay for USD 55 Million, he had made close to 10x of his estimate. He talks about how he took stock of life and moved forward from that point.
Gig economy and careers
Ravi has had two long stints in Cummins and then Microsoft, after which he switched to a portfolio of opportunities. He talks about evaluating this deep root vs. wide branches approach to structuring your career. He also has important tips for organizations looking to attract good performers. Tune in!
Career Planning 2.0
Thinking about a career has moved away from a linear notion – educate, work, retire. Also the idea of working in one company for the rest of your life has become obsolete. So how should one think about their career in this digital age? How can people stay relevant? Abhijit believes that skills will become obsolete quicker and gives tips about how to navigate their careers.
Marrying passion with pragmatism
Follow your passion is bad advice says Cal Newport in his book 'So good they cannot ignore you'. How does one think about options and decisions when passion and pragmatism point in different directions. Atul talks about how one could look at adjacencies and be pragmatic about a career decision by looking at supply-demand trends in an industry that one is trying to enter.
Transitioning roles in a large MNC
Navigating your career in a large, complex MNC can often be challenging and confusing. Vinita talks about how she navigated her career across different roles in Cadbury's and the Coca Cola company.
Careers - Paradox of choice
In a world exploding with choice, Barry Schwartz argues that consumers are often worse off due to the complexity in decision making and Fear of Missing Out. Rama talks about how one should navigate the world under such circumstances.
Navigating your career
Anu talks about her moment of epiphany during an interview with a McKinsey partner that really pushed her to reflect on what she enjoyed and what she didn’t. She talks about how she has tried to get to the bottom of what gives her energy.
Rejecting 3 jobs and painting in Goa
KV Sridhar (Pops) talks about how came to Mumbai to pursue commercial opportunities and cast his net beyond Hyderabad – where he grew up. He also talks about the fact that very quickly he got himself three offers (on the creative and commercial side) but decided to go to Goa to learn and reboot. He talks about how he led the life of a vagabond for a few months and how he landed the next role at Ulka.
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.
Raising the game when it matters
Mouli talks about the concept of Learning Cycles and how it is critical for people to focus on completing large learning cycles to build significant distinctive capability. He also makes the distinction between major and minor learning cycles and talks about how effective leaders often kick their game up a notch when it comes to a major learning cycle. The concept of learning cycle is also relevant when we think about processing opportunities that come along in our journey.
Picking mentors thoughtfully
Mouli underscores the criticality of having sound mentors in todays world where there are more forks in the road and several choices to be made for all of us. Mouli also talks about his framework for how we all should think about selecting the mentors that guide us. He talks about how Mentors should have seen some parts of the “movie” that you haven’t and should be completely vested in your success with no conflict of interest.
Decoupling quitting & joining decisions
Mouli talks about how people often mix up the two decisions and how they can end up over-appreciating what is right in the new context and what is wrong in the current situation. He brings it back to the point that careers are driven by capability and not by role/title. He urges us to think hard about the learning opportunity in the current environment and carefully evaluate the pros and cons of the current and the new opportunity before taking a decision.
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.
Changing orbit - HBS, Wall-Street and Dasra
Neera talks about her transitions to Morgan Stanley, Harvard Business School, UBS and then to Co-founding Dasra with her spouse – Deval Sanghavi. She talks about the mindset with which she started thinking about her HBS degree. She talks about moving from seeing it as an asset you could market to something she could leverage and extend to drive impact in the Social Impact world.
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
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.
Key career choices
Dr. Guha speaks about some of the key choices he made at various forks in the road that presented themselves in front of him. He specifically talks about the crucial role of his father and his wife in giving him the flexibility to pursue his calling without getting him to “play safe” or to seek commercially lucrative options at the expense of pursuing things that energized him.
Early childhood wiring
How much of you as an individual can be attributed to early childhood experiences? In this nugget hear Ravi speak about three main influences in his early years that shaped his personality. Did you know that he had to take a year off from school due to medical reasons and this turned out to be a boon in shaping his boundless curiosity!
Hiring for the Digital World
Unlike the analog world, employees and customers in the digital world are at the centre and the organization and processes are built around them. This makes the hiring of employees a very significant task. How does a leader go about hiring someone and what are their markers for potential? Don’t miss the insightful anecdote about The Knowledge test that the London cab drivers have to take and how that is relevant to this nugget.
Staying relevant over the long-term
We live in a world where professions are being threatened and jobs that existed yesterday may not exist tomorrow. Atul talks about how the world of photography has been democratized with the penetration of mobile phones with good cameras. He shares his insights on how one could think about being relevant in these changing times.
Navigating the first 3-6 months
The first few months in a new organization can be a nervous passage of play for the incoming leader and for the hiring manager. If not handled carefully, the organizational antibodies could eject the new entrant. Vinita shares her insights on how the incoming leader and the hiring leader could navigate this phase effectively.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
Where to go and How to grow are two questions leaders ask all the time as they navigate their career. Vinita talks about the need for conviction in direction, coupled with abundant curiosity to grow as the key elements of playing to your potential.
Transitioning effectively to a new context
Suresh talks about his experiences in transitioning across companies and roles. He moved from HUL to Nestle and within Nestle, he moved across markets such as Egypt, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and India. He talks about how he thinks about settling into a new context and also what it takes to build systems and processes so that even when you transition out, the organization continues to run effectively.
Early formative years
Devudutt talks about the profound influence of some of his teachers when he was studying medicine. He elaborates that they would often push him to think about the Why behind various elements beyond the what (anatomy) and the how (physiology). He mentions how that has discipline of asking the Why question has influenced his thinking and his approach towards mythology.
Effective coaching process
Devdutt talks about what leads to an effective coaching relationship. He describes the complexity of a coaching process and mentions that the onus is often on the Coachee to tap into the database of the Coach and extract the value. Several leaders see Coaching as linear relationship where there is a pre-defined process which leads to an outcome. He emphasizes that the reality is quite different from that.
Managing time, unfettered curiosity and resilience
Vinay talks about Narasimha Rao spent his time at various points in his career. More specifically, he breaks down the pie chart of time across different phases - when you are campaigning, when you are in power and when you are in opposition. He talks about how Narasimha Rao had unfettered curiosity that helped him indulge his curiosity when he was in opposition which helped him evolve as a person but also ensured that he did not make any hasty decisions in the short-term out of anxiety that would hurt him in the long run.
Art of asking good questions
Arun talks about how we could potentially move from understanding the data that somebody presents to us to going deeper in our understanding around why that data is important to the other person and how their experiences have led them to value what they value. He suggests that moving from the What to the Why and the How enables us to get to the next level of insight and intimacy with another person, especially if they are unlike us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.