You MUST teach the old dog new tricks!


skill 3



Without dwelling too much on the canine reference, the essence of mid-career professional survival today is to be flexible, learn continuously and be accepting of change. This blog is primarily for such professionals and is based on personal experience as always.

When I started many years ago as a management trainee in the fledgling IT industry after an MBA from premier B-School, I was told that before becoming a leader one needed to be a hands-on expert in the software space. There were no shortcuts even if you had managerial credentials, and that has its pluses and negatives. I can’t visualize a recent B-School grad from my alma mater going through the same grind though.

Only when I decided to venture on my own, after working several years with large and then smaller companies, that I learned other skills one needed to survive. For one, selling and customer account management. Even bigger was accepting the psychological change from being a manager in a big MNC and having doors open automatically to having to follow up with junior people on the client side for business. The learning hasn’t stopped for me yet as an entrepreneur as one copes with the ever changing business climate, differing client and employee attitudes, technology etc.

Your situation may, and is probably; very different if you started your career in a more global and liberal economic environment but the basic issue of learning continuously will never change. As mid-career jobs are constantly under threat of redundancy and replacement by younger professionals with potentially higher energy levels, albeit less experience. In a business environment where change is the only constant as the cliché goes, experience is seen to have limited and even limiting value. The only way to keep ahead of the curve is to build a valuable armory of skills and experience that can’t be easily replaced. Just a few pointers.

 1. Build on your experience and skills that continue to be relevant today

e.g. Specific package skills will become redundant but your ability to

architect and design software solutions will not. Likewise for understanding enterprise business systems which will continue to be useful.

 2. Learn new skills that you see today to grow in your career

e.g. In the leaner, meaner organizations of today, old managerial styles of working in a hierarchical style are antediluvian as results and expertise matter more than rank and process. For even non-tech jobs like sales and marketing, the ability to with work with big data and analytics are essential today.

 3. Keep looking over your shoulder and over the horizon

e.g. Checking out the market for new technologies, business models and companies that are fast emerging and that can either employ you or overrun you tomorrow. Look at what AirBnb, Uber, Amazon etc have done to their respective industries. Also look forward to predicted changes based on what’s at a research stage today and what visionaries are talking about in your space.

Good luck with your career! Do write in if you have specific areas you would like to discuss offline using our website’s Contact Us page.

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