A dilemma! Would you tread off the beaten track?
This is a most asked for question by students doing a MBA program. Guidance is sought by new MBA entrants as well as others who generally ask their Professors, guest speakers’ senior students and ex-students. Some decide based on advice by parents or have a family background. And some have previous work experience and so have good idea of the various functions in an organization. For this discussion the focus will be on Finance, Marketing and HR and International Business Management.
For a few the choice is quite well cut out. Finance is without doubt a vital function for any organization. Those who have an interest in finance or have worked in finance or accounts related fields and are good at numbers rarely make a wrong choice. It is no surprise that all do not have aptitude for finance. Therefore some students do find the going tough and are not comfortable and transfer to another discipline. There is nothing wrong in it. The students’ choosing finance may have aspirations in a number of areas for e.g., corporate finance, financial institutions, investments, insurance, personal financial planning and International finance.
Then there are the folks wanting to get into Marketing. Marketing is known to be the front-end of a business the one that adds to customer value and top-line growth. Students are a quite certain of wanting to specialize in marketing. It is the most visible of all functions and considered a key function that comprises a wide range of electives to choose from. The extroverts feel this is the area for them as there is kind of dynamism associated in marketing, sales, branding, advertisement and consumer behavior.
What of the HR guys? Why do they select HR as a specialization? Are they the people who are not interested in the above mentioned electives and come to HR by default? Or are they the aspirants who wish to be part of a larger vision? Are they aware that HR too can provide lucrative career options in the global and knowledge economy? HR function can be divided into two key terms- specialist and generalist. A HR specialist focuses on both Organization Development and Strategic HR and also Recruiting and Training. Whereas a generalist handles a number of areas and tasks pay roll, grievance, discipline, security.
Yet HR managers are less recognized as important contributors to the overall business success. With some extra knowledge about psychology and sociology, there are innumerable exciting possibilities in training and consultancy. Another question that pops up often is ‘why HR guys do not become CEOs?’
International Business Management
In the era of globalization exciting and lucrative opportunities have opened up the International arena. The course is popular among working professionals for career advancement. Surprising many fresh graduates too opts for this course. Many have an intense desire to become entrepreneurs and some have a business family background and wish to take the global route. Some are motivated by the challenge of working in a multicultural setting and dealing with diversity thus becoming a global citizen.
What are the view of experienced professionals?
The general advice for students at the cross-roads is to scan the different functional areas and get to talk to working professionals face to face. Read articles in journals and get the HR inputs on salaries and perks prevailing in the industry. The main objective is to understand the trends even though the environment is uncertain and dynamic. This home-work is a must.
Despite all the research the real challenge is to listen to your ‘heart’. Try not to follow the herd. “Why not go off the beaten track?” The most successful choice is when you enjoy what you do. Each work day becomes a joy – full of excitement, experiment and innovation. We also need to remember that changing careers mid-stream is no big deal. Now ‘re-invention of career’ is a powerful way to explore one’s hidden talent and blossom forth to one’s real potential. The prerequisite is to shake out of the comfort zone. In fact it develops in you a holistic view and the ability to see the larger picture. This may even give you an edge over the specialist folks when being considered for top positions. And above all in the long run no choice can ever be wrong choice.
Please do share your own experience and views-
(a) how did you choose?
(b) Are you satisfied?
(d) Are you planning to switch? If so why?
(e) What is you advice to the young aspirants?
“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson