Correct career path

By apumaa apumaa Points: 0 | Level: Starter | Status: [Member]
Posted on: 12/10/2009 11:23:11 AM | Views: 3676
I have worked a total of 5 years in IT industry with 2 years spent Onsite at client location in US .My technology has been mainframe throughout and I have been working for insurance clients.I have done 7 certifications in insurance from AICPCU and LOMA so as to enhance my business knowledge.I am working on my six sigma green belt certification.Right now I feel my career is rather stagnant considering I am still a programmer analyst .I am considering doing an MBA and then joining back in the IT industry.I am wondering if this would be a good move keeping in mind my certifications in insurance domain,my IT experience and onsite experience.I am married and settled in coimbatore.And due to our aging parents needing us nearby in case of emergencies,we cannot shift to a new town.
Please advise as to what steps I should take to bring my career out of the rut it seems to have fallen.In case I should do an MBA please recommend a course and a college in Coimbatore.
Thanks in advance.

sainath's Advice on Sunday, December 13, 2009 :

Firstly, let's try and list the inherent strengths in your profile:

(1) 2 years onsite US experience at client side - this is a huge plus point and can be strongly used for career advancement

(2) 7 certifications in insurance - The certifications are from US based institutes which again positions you very strongly for serving US clients in the insurance domain. The insurance domain itself is very good - BFSI is a consistent IT spender, this is also a very strong point.

Also, you are currently experiencing a clash in your value system. From your current choices i.e. choosing to live in Coimbatore, your value system order of priority is as below (basically, what do you value higher in life?) :

(1) Ensure your availability to look after aging parents whenever required

(2) Advance career to a higher level

I think you have made the right choices in life but it was essential to clarify this as once this is clear, you will realize yourself that your scope or radar of operations for advancing career growth is limited to the Coimbatore town. Once this fact is understood, there should be no room for any regrets or frustrations.
    However, if you do choose to change your value priority and chuck tradition out of the window, the entire equation changes - but I will not offer any advice in this direction as I am sure doing so will not give you any long term contentment.

Since I am not from Coimbatore I am not in a position to recommend any local institutions for pursuing MBA. However, I have observed some interesting trends of late:

(a) Most premier institutions are offering 1 year on campus full time MBA courses

(b) Some are also adopting the virtual classroom methodology (through Hughes telecom). This involves full day weekend virtual classes and are pretty effective and demand a lot of effort as well. This method helps to break the disadvantages associated with distance learning and at the same time create the classroom experience packed with discussions which helps a lot. IIFT is one such institute offering MBA - but please check out all the relevant details. And yes, the course is demanding and tough.

While there are many people who go on a sabbatical leave to complete the MBA, it has to be timed correctly. If the organization where you currently work does not offer a sabbatical leave, then this decision will need to be taken after careful evaluation. You cannot time your re-entry in the IT industry when the economy is in recession and clients are unwilling to spend.

From what you have stated, it is evident that you possess ability and commitment to follow through and take action to progress in your career - at the same time, a weakness that is evident (I may be wrong, but this observation is based on the limited information provided) is lack of clarity. When you say career advancement, what is it exactly that you are targeting? If the thinking is that doing certifications, courses will automatically elevate you in your career by the intervention of outside forces, seniors recognizing your ability,etc then I would like to challenge that approach. What is the end point that is being targeted through six sigma / MBA - is it towards specializing in quality control / project management or targeting higher management. First your "What" has to be crystal clear - the "How" is what the career counseling members will help in plotting out.

Once your "What" is clear, all your actions/choices will be targeted consciously/subconcsiously towards achieving it. It will automatically help you in deciding which assignments to take up / refuse at work, which certifications to target and in what order of priority,etc.

I would strongly encourage you to think hard and decide upon where you would like to see yourself in 3-5 years time and post the same on this forum to continue this discussion.

I will be happy to respond. Sharpening the arrow is very important but knowing where the target is also equally important, one without the other is like a 1-winged bird - it simply cannot fly.

You have ability - please make sure you realise your full potential and do full justice to your ability. Also, enough options should be available in Coimbatore to help you achieve the career growth you seek - thanks to the efforts of the local state government. I await your response in this regard.

Recommendation - read "Goals - by Brian Tracy", Magna publishing if you need help in clarifying your thinking.

"I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby."
    - Sir Winston Churchill


Sainath Sherigar,

Apumaa said on Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sainath,I am absolutely amazed and encouraged at the insight you showed in your reply.It is obvious that you have spent both time and thought on my question .Thank you.
You are right about the order of my priorities.I didnt think of it as tradition but more as what I want. I accept the limitations it places on me in terms of location but I am absolutely certain that I will never regret it.Besides,there is an IT park coming up in Coimbatore at a special economic zone.Though right now we have only a couple of companies here,I believe other IT companies will be setting up branches here within the next 2 years and there will be an improved scope for career advancement then.
I already did some research on the available MBA programs before posting on this forum..Sadly,none of the institutions in Coimbatore seem to be offering an executive MBA(1 year course).And the institutions which offer the courses via the Hughes telecom do not have a training center in Coimbatore.But where there is a will,there is a way.I havn't found the way yet.

At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot,I will confess that lack of clarity is precisely what led me to post on this forum.I am not very sure what my options are to choose exactly what I want to be in 5 years time.And would be grateful if you could provide me with some guidance on what my options are.Let me put it this way.
When I joined this company,I expected that I would be handling the role of a project lead in 3 years time.And I dont not say this on the basis of my certifications alone but also on the basis of the commitment and hard work I have put in during my 5 years here.I have been responsible for new teammembers,handled clients,trained entire batches of entry level trainees and done several value added automations to the project I am working in.More than a value add to my resume,I worked on certifications so that I would not lose the habit of studying.And right now I am working on my GB certification as I found it interesting and feel it is vital to project management.But more than that it is an area with a lot of potential as the expertise would apply to all projects irrespective of technology.And to answer your question,the reasoning behind doing certifications was not that it would lead to automatic growth but that it would look good on my resume and would certainly be an addition to the regular project work done.

In spite of my years of experience,I still remain a PA .After I came back from Onsite, I found that my payscale was rather on the low side as compared to that of lateral entries (with less experience than me) and people who joined the company later than me.But what is even more depressing is that I am still a measly team member.Pardon me for the usage but after 5 years I have started feeling quite measly and mouldy.I honestly feel wasted.And I do not intend to spend a year brooding over bitter thoughts.It is not the company that is at fault.It is the people in my current project.I have had the good fortune of working in great well managed projects during the first 2 years of my career.Even if I get released from this project (which is a toughie as the client loves me and so the lead will not let me go.I already asked for a release and they have been rather vague with their response.),I would have to prove myself yet again from the scratch in another project.To be honest,I dont think I can do that anymore.

Doing an MBA had been a dream for nearly 7 years and somewhere along the way,it got shelved under the "forget it" dreams category.I was considering a change of field to freshen things up when I remembered the MBA and decided to consider following it up.To be honest,I dont want to leave IT and that is when I wondered if I couldnt join back after my MBA as the course would give me more exposure and it would also be the change that would freshen things up for me.Also that would probably give me a new challenging role.The reasoning behind being that there have been instances when people have quit the company and joined back after a period of a year or so during which they work with other companies or did a course and were offered a better position and pay.I like my current company and the work culture and would most certainly like to be back here but in a better position.
Sainath,I apologise for the rather verbose reply and hope I made some sense.

Sainath's Advice on Sunday, January 24, 2010 :

Firstly, it is good to know that atleast the career direction of becoming a project lead is clear. From what you have stated, it is obvious that you have taken up higher responsibilities at every point and tried to excel in your role. Mentoring new team members, creating value in the project is what should ideally ensure that you get a role revision but it appears that your reporting managers are possibly taking things for granted.On the flip side, have you asked for a role revision - if not, you should do the same and with strong posture as you have already proven your mettle. Often,many top performers :

(a) Do not directly ask their reporting managers for a role revision.

(b) Expect reporting managers to recognize their achievements and consistency.

In an ideal world, this should happen but more often than not this is not the case.Which is why it becomes important that one maintains his / her visibility at the client level (you have already done that) and also in the organization. Making sure others know of your achievements may seem as cheap behaviour at first, but really, you need to ensure that people do sit up and take notice of the results you have produced. And this can be subtle, no need to be loud. You only need to ensure that people know, not necessarily blow the trumpet.In typical hierarchical companies, you can stay cocooned in a single account and have zero visibility despite being a top performer on the field.

    The learning habit is a very important one - all IT professionals have to mandatorily possess it. Doing an MBA would also serve to give you a new lease of life mentally and is very important in the long run but remember, it doesn't solve the problem. It will give you a sense of satisfaction and also an escape but the fundamental problem remains unsolved. The reasoning is simple - ideally one should spend enough time in a role before moving onto the next one. Sometimes, it does happen that people complete MBA at some of the premier institutions and return at higher posts but in my experience, they do not necessarily manage things well, despite the degree, as they are totally oblivious to the problems faced on the field. My recommendation would be that you progress one step at a time, and be strong and secure.Rising too fast will make you defensive and insecure as then you will naturally try to guard your position.For a project management career you can also look at pursuing PMP (for US clients) or Prince2(for UK clients).

    Lateral hires will earn more since possibly they have changed jobs more often. But do not measure your self-worth based on your "salary value", rather, measure it on the basis of your "real value". It is not possible to grow in real terms if you jump jobs too fast - it is necessary to invest some time and grow in an account in the real sense which is exactly what you have done. For a fact, your real value today would be much higher than any lateral hire in the account.

    While you may feel that you are at a dead end - which may result in bitterness, resentment,etc I have a different take on this. You are actually at a fork in the road - and your choices and strength of resolve to get up and give it one more shot will determine whether you soar or sink. In my opinion, you need to do one of the  below things:

(1) Ask for a better role in the current account

(2) Move to a different account - if you will need to prove yourself all over again - so be it. Atleast you will not regret that you did not give your very best. Most of us are not taught to be emotionally intelligent - your situation is like that of a woodcutter who has swung the axe 99 times and left the forest, tired and frustrated. If only he knew that one more swing of the axe and the tree would fall !

If your desire to accomplish a goal is strong enough, then there really is only one question, "How much are you willing to pay?"
    -  Ryan Walter in "Off the bench and into the game."

(3) Move to a different company in a bigger role - you need to weigh the pros and cons carefully here and the decision should be your own decision,not someone else's opinion (including mine). Decide for yourself - which is more important, career growth or safety of a known employer. Make sure your priorites are clear - and then take 1 decision. And don't look back from that point onwards.

    One final word, your sense of self worth should not be defined by what your seniors think, peers think or what your neighbours think. Honestly speaking, from what you have stated, in my opinion, your sense of self-worth should be very high - how many people have the kind of specialist skills which you have? Be proud of your achievements - whether the immediate environment recognises it or not, one day you will outgrow your environment if you keep going!

Fight your way out of the situation - all the best !!!!

And remember to let the career counseling team know when you cross the next hurdle !


Sainath Sherigar,

P.S. Watch the below video when defeatist thoughts drag you down.

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