Thursday, August 21, 2014

If I were 22 today

If I were 22 today, I would use the following principles as guidelines while planning my career.
1. I would build experience in stages starting from specific functional experience, widening out to high depth in one functional area and good understanding of other functional areas, so that a broad understanding of the end-to-end process of value delivery transactions is arrived at. Once end-to-end process is understood broadly, I would focus on deepening the understanding to identify how value gets generated (what is important and why) in the process. This typically takes years, unless one has help from books and mentoring.
2. Building technical skills is not enough. Communication, social, interpersonal, conceptual, relationship-building skills also need to be honed. I would leverage all opportunities to develop these skills
3. I would learn to identify and manage internal and external stakeholders in proposing and delivering end-to-end value delivery transactions. This involves planning, making and keeping committments, building and maintaining trust with people. It involves failing and learing from failures. Unless someone has failed substantiallly and learnt from it, Senior management normally do not trust that person with the most complex value delivery transactions. At the same time there is no better teacher than failure, so from 22 onwards I would volunteer for the most complex value delivery transactions and manage them very carefully independently or under guidance from seniors. I would try to learn from my own experience as well as that of my peers and seniors. One lives only once and the most you learn directly or indirectly from real life, the probablity of your success goes up. Being able to handle failure and bounce back from them is a very valuable asset. So do big things, fail early and learn quickly. In case you succeed from doing big things, you get the experience any way. But until you have had some degree of failure and learnt from it, don't trust your understanding of your limitations and manage them carefuly.
4. Careers are not built by shining independently. It is built by carrying people along. Team work and leadership is best learnt and honed by doing. Books, courses and mentoring are not enough. Being able to leverage others to do bigger and bigger things well is the most important thing to learn.
5. Sharpening the saw in the sense of keeping the skill set relevant is a top priority throughout career. If employer does not invest in me, then I need to invest in myself.
6. Milking a legacy skillset without preparing for the day when somebody moves my cheese is not smart career management.
Those of you who are 22 today, hope this helps. Please ask me on prataptambay@hotmail.com if you have questions.
--- Pratap Tambay
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