Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What it takes to reach the top?

How often do we fail to notice things that are right in front of our eyes? I was a successful mid-level manager at a leading company, and I thought I knew it all, but I have come to realize that even though business is simple, it is not as simplistic as we often assume it to be. Over the last one year, I have gained tremendous perspective about how CXO’s think, how businesses run, how they deliver value and just.. how does it all come together.

All of us think about leaps in our careers. I realise now that this jump starts from within. We develop capabilities and confidence, that makes us start expecting more out of ourselves, these expectations turn into belief and finally into achievement.

An year back, I had almost a decade of software industry experience, engineering education in computers from an IIT, a good understanding of how software was built, comfortably set at mid-level of an organization – but what next?

I had often thought about pursuing an MBA, but, (there is always a but – isn’t there?) I am married, had bought a home and hence had an EMI to pay. I could not afford to sell my house, draw out a huge loan for MBA, disrupt my family life and leave for 1-2 years. The opportunity cost was just too high for me to even consider it as an option.

That was my state of mind when my friend Ankur introduced me to Dinesh, co-founder of Sunstone, who was in the process of putting together the first batch for SBS – by reference only. At first glance, I had mistakenly thought of it as another run of the mill part time MBA program. Thankfully, I quickly realised my mistake in my first meeting with Dinesh.

SBS was not affiliated to any university – they were going out on a limb trying to build a management education brand in open market, there were no academicians on board, there were no text books to read (that was one big reason I joined), curriculum was devised by industry people, delivered by people who were walking the talk already, and mix of contact programs, online delivery, and workshops made it possible for me to pursue it without leaving my job. It was the best possible solution for me.

Working on creating annual budgets for a large IT services company, creating go to market strategy for a large mobile handset manufacturer, and similar large and real business problems gave me the right exposure for developing a deep understanding of business.

I went from being stuck in my career to being able to take on a problem of the magnitude of “Should RIL enter e-tailing” where I am discussing retail business with CXOs of the businesses and have created a platform that is engaging enough to be tracked by industry stalwarts and contributed to by Dilip Modi I feel a sense of pride and direction.

Finally, I see what it takes to reach the top.

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