Introduction The world is full of opportunities for those who want to excel. It never stops for those who work smarter and also harder. This hard work needs to be combined with very smart life goals at any point in time. Oftentimes those who have a big individuality of their own are highly respected by organizations and in the wider society as well. There are several ideas regarding individuality. However, the most important are a)Developing leadership skills b)Consider entire Industry as universe c)Get the Management Qualification d) Become an Entrepreneur and e) Become a Guru of substance.
Develop leadership skills Nineteen hours per day. Weeks on end without a single day leave. This then becomes years on end. Can you see this workaholic? Yes, you got to read the biography ( yet to be published) of Mr A.M. Naik, the CEO and big boss of Larsen and Tourbro, till very recently. Even now, he is a Member of the board. He is a "lifer" in Larsen and Toubro. Though his record of not taking leave and working on all days is very difficult to emulate, certain aspects can be emulated by you. The first is to start from the shop floor, if you are a mechanical engineer. The works. The real world. The real melting point of all action. Never straightaway jump into consulting without this experience. You will be just a fish out of water.
Naik's key to success lay in this ability to think through a problem, solve it and in superb execution of huge projects. For a brief while when Dhirubhai Ambani was around in Larsen and Toubro as Chairman, it was said that his services were sought even more. Of course, Naik has always been the boss. A towering personality.
Such leadership skills will stand you in good stead. Leaders are not born. They are made. It is the situation that brings out the best of leaders. Get your hands dirty on the shop floor. You will slowly realize that you are far ahead of all people. Of course, working far beyond office hours and doing extra work is a given. It is the base on which you need to build your leadership skills and individuality.
Similarly, stand out by acquiring all the relevant technical qualifications particularly pertaining to Quality Management. Volunteer to be a Faculty Member in technical courses. The world is today for those who do multi-tasking and teaching/training is one of them. Once you prove yourself as a good trainer, the organization will open several doors for you. This is another important avenue that you should take up.
Go through all the Standard Operating Procedures of even areas where you are not involved. Get the advanced knowledge and then check for the practical problems. If you are a mechanical engineer, it is quite possible that you will be asked to even control electrical engineers with experience. You will be designated as Utility Manager, with experience. These are some ideas for you to develop your Individuality and stand out in the crowd.
Consider the entire industry as Universe Mr Shyam (name changed) was based at Chennai. He volunteered to be so active in the Chennai Chapter of the Indian Society for Training and Development(ISTD) . He also got in touch with a Japanese Organization with sufficient base in Chennai. He learnt Japanese. He was on their committees for industry-institute collaboration. This meant a huge amount of extra work, outside the boundaries of his own work as Sr. Manager (Training) of a huge organization. This shrewd Mechanical Engineer had a big plan. His hard work paid off when the Japanese deputed him to go over to Japan for an international conference. This lead to another contact with several leaders of industry from Africa. He has since then toured many countries of Africa as a trainer on a huge variety of applied behavior subjects. He since then acquired further technical qualifications too and took up special courses, one of which was in the USA.
He has never looked back. All this happened because he looked upon the ISTD as a launching pad for further success. He made a big splash with all his connections. You must also do so. Yes, a huge amount of hard work is involved, but being connected with the professional institutes in your own field is a must. For example, there is the advanced qualification in the field of Electrical Engineers. The CA Institute has several advanced courses. The ICWA institute has several seminars and conferences. Get into the heart of the institute by volunteering to be a member. Life also works on contacts. If you are an extrovert and a good planner like Mr Shyam you are bound to be a winner. You will have your own individuality.
Get the Management QualificationGuys who are forty two years old, with two school going children and a working wife, are back to the Indian School of Business to do the PGDM course from the prestigious Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, which also has a campus at Mohali. This ISB in fact encourages those with experience, as all the experience and conceptual knowledge gets discussed in the classroom.
This is the new world. There are some top twenty institutes in India, including the IIMs, offering the one year Executive MBA program. Remember, this is the basic minimum that you need to acquire to stay alive in the job market, ten years from now. Anyone above forty five will never be welcome in any industry including the IT industry. The "catch them young" game is on. The youngest competitors who might be as smart as you are, will compete with you and make your life miserable. Already, this rat race is on.
Remember, you do not have a choice. A mere graduate, even in engineering, is just not enough. An MBA or at least an Executive MBA is a must for you to survive. You can even do this abroad in the USA, if you can. However, you need to understand that this is a costly process. If you do not have the funds, the ISB itself arranges a loan, which you can repay. The much higher salary will take care of your higher cost in terms of repayment of the EMI towards the loan. This individuality is a must.
Become an Entrepreneur You must also become an entrepreneur of substance. Those with IT experience in leading companies like TCS and Infosys Technologies and WIPRO have successful become entrepreneurs running BPO companies in many villages in Tamil Nadu and in Andhra Pradesh. They are very intelligent to understand that it is always possible to find local graduates who prefer to work only in their own villages. They are very shrewd and understanding of the market needs.
The very young girls happily work there for a couple of years and when they get married, they bring in their own friends as substitutes. The security verification is unique as the village elders know most of the local candidates.
You can also do become an entrepreneur. You need to first understand what it takes in terms of skills, the initial capital and so on. If you would so desire visit the city of Coimbatore, understand how hundreds of entrepreneurs have made millions through innovative ideas. There is a local association of such entrepreneurs where you can get information.
Please do note that at least seven years of work experience is a must in your own field, in at least two organizations, before you launch yourself as an entrepreneur. The more resourceful you become, the more better are the chances for you to become an entrepreneur. Of course, the larger social objective of doing work for the society, by providing jobs for others, is a big plus indeed.
Become a Guru of substance Those who have good knowledge have written articles on technical subjects in journals and so on, become "Guru" s of some substance. You will also be counted as a Guru if you have huge technical knowledge and develop good presentation skills in technical conferences where you can present technical papers. This is not the domain of the academic experts from the colleges alone. These days, a huge number of professionals who present quality papers in technical conferences are from the industry, as they are able to combine practical insights with theoretical concepts and make very good presentations.
The more advanced your knowledge, the more better your chances of making it as a Guru of substance.
Conclusion Yes. Each of the aforesaid tasks is a huge ask. It is a huge challenge. However, if you want to stand out in a crowd, you need to do all the above. You cannot afford to relax now. If you are stuck in a very small town in a manufacturing organization, migrate to the city. Slog it out. Pick up all the qualities required to have your own individuality.
All the very best.