The Great Lakes career club, started with the objective of enhancing students’ understanding of different career tracks and industry expectations, organised a meeting with some eminent industry stalwarts across sectors ranging from FMCG to Finance on Oct 9. The agenda was kicked off by Professor TN Swaminathan, Director, External relations, Great Lakes, welcoming the guests.
Highlights of the session (not produced verbatim) –
Mr. Ravi Shankar, Chief HR Office, Mahindra Holidays
When I was in your place, I always had the curiosity about “What kind of people I would be working with?” The students passing out now are lucky since the world has emerged out of the recession. The slowdown however had remarkable lessons for some companies in terms of the importance of having a long term vision, instead of just planning for the here and the now! The industry is in the process of winning back the trust, it lost during the recession.
There is a perceptible shift in terms of the skills expected of students. The industry needs candidates who can be better corporate citizens, by being ecologically more sensitive, socially more aware and conscious and who can adjust to a firm’s corporate culture easily. The presence of softer attributes as opposed to standard functional skills might make the difference when it comes to landing good jobs.
Mr. Rajesh Balaji, Head HR, Barclays Bank
One skill set that is in huge demand is Project Management. Delivering quickly is sadly becoming a priority than looking carefully at the scope. Strategising projects, tracking and getting work done within agreed upon timelines is very critical. The skills needed for success here have much to do with individual personalities in that a holistic personality is essential. You should strive to be good at interpersonal and coordination skills and be ready to demonstrate them to the recruiter at the time of interaction.
Mr. Anand Kannan, Co-founder, GRE EDGE
Most students have concerns surrounding location and CTC at the time of placement. In my opinion, this is a tragedy. Even though some of you might have taken loans to fund your education here, there are avenues through which you can meet your liabilities if only you look beyond these two factors alone. The market place is highly imperfect and at times, it might impede your discovery of the right fit. As MBA graduates, you should not fall into the trap of hankering after fancy job titles. Instead, you should try to get out of your zones of discomfort and push yourself.
For example, the role of a salesperson entails a huge personal transformation, but many of you would not even give a second thought to any offer if it is worded as ‘Sales Executive’. In fact, the singular sad deficiency of our collective psychology is that sales is considered second rate when it is the only function that generates cash. When you sell, you have to be humble and know the customer well enough to understand his unfulfilled need. One trait that is important to any organization is personal effectiveness. It is something like brushing one’s teeth and hence deserves constant attention. It entails time management, being able to prioritize and knowing one’s strengths. When cultivated, it can fetch respect from all directions.
Mr. Vijayaraghavan, Ex Director of Finance, I-Soft
In today’s market place, integrity is very important, especially when you want a job in any of the Finance domains. As all of you are at the cusp of taking some very important decisions, including switching careers, it would be good to conduct a SWOT and Porter’s 5 forces assessment on yourself first to gauge how prepared you are to face the industry again. It would help you find what you can bring to the table in terms of skills and who you are competing against in the market. From a finance domain standpoint, I would suggest that you don’t follow a herd mentality because it doesn’t matter whether you sell cement or software; they are all just instruments that meet a need. When you prepare your pitch, focus on your strengths and add some masala to it, but never at the cost of integrity. Most seasoned interviewers can see through the dishonesty in your voice!
Mr. Madhavan V Nampoothiri, Energy Alternatives India (a start-up)
The expectations from the industry can be very broadly put under two categories –
- Be passionate in whatever you do; effectiveness would be lesser without passion
- Take initiatives – Go to managers with solutions; not problems
- Execution skill – Try to go beyond your comfort zones and execute.
- Don’t try to undercut the strengths of your team
- Empathy –Understand people more and better
- Sensitivity to specifics of corporate culture – a positive attitude and an ability to learn continuously are a must to progress towards leadership roles
Mr. G Srinivasan, Parry (Murugappa Group)
When you can switch careers now, you s
hould realize that conventional career progressions are passé; hence, be ready to grab opportunities. You should try to find out what drives you intrinsically. One way to do that would be to gauge what job you would choose if all jobs pay the same. Regardless of verticals, your attitude is more important than your skills and among skills, people skills are more important than functional skills.
Mr. PVR Murthy, CEO, Exclusive Search
The IT industry which was India’s 2nd largest employer four years back is 9th today. Things change so fast! As students, you need to introspect and get in touch with where your passion is. Institutes like Great Lakes and the IIMs just give an entry point to the students, but the organizations are really interested in how you can contribute to their bottom-line. Bear in mind that what appears important to you now as a goal might not have the same importance a few years down the line. However, passion is something that should never ever run out of!
Followed by the speeches, there was a Q&A discussion on how start-ups and large organizations fare vis-s-vis opportunities. While at the outset, it may appear that start-ups mean more freedom, ambiguity, access to top management and quick growth and learning, Mr. Ravi Shankar dispelled the notion that only start-ups can be good for people with entrepreneurial ambitions. He said that even large organizations sometimes offer chaotic environments and non linear growth. It is up to the individual to take a call!
After this engaging session of semi formal speeches and Q&A, students separated into batches and interacted with the guests of their choice. The outcome was a good reality check for most of us in terms of how we are currently positioned and what it would entail to reach where we ultimately want to!