What you do is as important as what you know in your career

Those who know are always powerful. That is, they possess a fountainhead of knowledge that enables them to take on the best challenges in the world. However, it is vital that they do the right things in their careers and lives. Some nuances of such tasks are sought to be discussed in this article.


Let us take an example of a commerce graduate, who has passed his examinations and acquired a degree from a not-so-good college and University, from say, Northern Andhra Pradesh. He also has a first-class and is quite knowledgeable about accountancy. However, his knowledge about economics, which is as important as the core Finance subjects, is not as good or even fifty per cent near the likes of the prestigious Loyola College, Chennai or the Christ University, Bangalore, where the exposure to any B.Com student is so high and the electives are so comprehensive. Unfortunately, this young man's University has a syllabus that is far from being updated or comprehensive. So, the graduate already has a problem as far as his knowledge is concerned.

Now comes the tricky part. He has compulsorily migrated to Hyderabad, take up any accounting job that comes his way, hang on for at least three years and impress his employer by doing every bit of other jobs that come his way, to gather the vital experience. Furthermore, he should immediately register for the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India course called the ICWA and get this degree, which is far better than any M.Com of any college, anywhere in India. Hence, the "do" part is vital for his career. Hence, the vital and correct career moves, in terms of the "do" component becomes as vital as the acquisition of knowledge itself. Once again, any such graduate needs to know the "what" in terms of knowledge. This is exactly where his or her smartness will come into play. For example, the deemed University, GITAM, has a base in Hyderabad, and the aforesaid student just needs to go over to the University and interact with the Faculty Members or Commerce Students or both, to know what he lacks in terms of knowledge. The various moves that become essential for him to stay ahead of the learning curve are extremely important.

Be that as it may, the "do" component will particularly refer to a) Choosing various roles in one's career b) Acquiring all relevant knowledge related to different roles c) Rubbing shoulders with experts d) Using social media for career enhancement e) Sharpening the saw and f) Getting one's act together by joining the dots.

Choosing various roles in one's career

It has become abundantly clear that only those who make the smartest career moves, will be successful. As it turns out, the person who has gone through a variety of roles and has a proven track record is better placed in terms of a very good career. For example, if a person is stuck in industrial marketing, after five years of work experience in an auto component market, where the market is automatically assured ( the vital negotiations to get a new customer will always be done by the big bosses at the Corporate Office and never be given to a Manager), it does make sense for the young engineer to change track, join an FMCG organization dealing with a variety of consumer products that directly reach the customer, in a fiercely competitive market, and learn all the ropes. For, if he continues in industrial marketing, his role will relate to fire-fighting with the subcontractors who carry the finish goods to Indian customers like Ford, Hyundai and so on, on the one hand, and the various Indian ports on the other.

The complexities will be huge; however, the individual will get to do the same job again and again. His or her role will never change; he may get promoted, but only the perks will change; this will spell disaster for the young engineer's career.

If the professional moves on to the FMCG organization, he may find his feet in interacting with dealers and retailers and customers; he will become creative and can pass on many a suggestion to the Management. For example, Amazon.com now reaches even remote villages as it uses students for local delivery after their regular classes are over( now it is all online) between 5 to even 8 PM. Thorough learning of all such practices in the entire FMCG ecosystem will make a vital difference to his career.

Acquiring all relevant knowledge related to different roles

Take the above example. Let us assume that the young engineer takes a chance and joins a company such as Cavinkare. This has a pan-India presence, with so many products directly competing with the likes of P&G and the Indian arm of Unilever Limited. This organization is an entrepreneur-driven organization, where street-smart strategies in distribution are appreciated. The organization is into high-decibel advertising as well. Hence, the engineer would do well to do a part-time Executive MBA program, with weekend classes. He can then feel confident that he has all the knowledge relevant to his job content and the roles assigned to him. It should be noted that such knowledge is open-ended. It is always limitless. For example, the Harvard Business Review has got special books on Branding and it should occupy the shelves of the professional at home; only such approaches will help the individual stay ahead of the learning curve.

Rubbing shoulders with experts

Unless a budding HR professional attends the annual conferences of professional associations like the Indian Society For Training and Development or the National HRD Network, he will not become updated. Even if it means spending his own money, both the time and the effort will be worth it. The HR professional will get to interact with the best high performers; those who are stuck in the traditional industrial relations role in a manufacturing environment may get to learn about mentoring or better performance management practices in IT organizations. Similarly, those with a purely IT background may get to understand the full ramifications of the recently introduced industrial relations role. Interacting and rubbing shoulders with experts is a vital part of the "do" component of a person's career in modern times.

Using social media for career enhancement

Street-smart managers have taken to social media vehicles like LinkedIn to change jobs; they even get to meet their actual bosses. This helps them to know the nitty-gritty of any role. For example, some 15 odd years ago, a thorough professional who had cut his teeth with the prestigious Hindustan Lever was handpicked to become the Corporate HR Chief of the Aditya Birla group. Today, this group is quite famous for its innovative HR practices and has attracted the best of experts from different organizations. It should be noted that the entire focus is on young professionals in different HR roles. The monitoring of the progress of different HR roles is reportedly being done by the big boss, Mr. Aditya Birla himself. Hence, using social media for career advancement is a part and parcel of modern career planning.

Sharpening the saw

This is not related to the acquisition of mundane skills. Those in vital HR roles in IT, for example, are so keen to acquire a good certification in Executive Coaching from any professional body recognized by the International Coaching Federation. The result? They get to earn the rupees four lakh spent in acquiring this skill, in less than three years, either after their retirement or when they call it quits and set up their consultancy organizations. This is just one example. Every field has such qualifications. The Indian Institute of Materials Management has distance education courses in Supply Chain Management, for example. The sky is the limit today.

Getting one's act together by joining the dots

Each of the aforesaid steps can be viewed as a single dot. When taken as a holistic concept, no meaningful career can happen if the individual does not join all the dots. The best career is one where the individual never gets stuck up in dead-end jobs where he or she does the same thing, again and again. He or she needs a move on, and realising one's maximum potential can and will happen only of the individual can meaningfully get to do the right things and join all the dots. Yes. There will be challenges and glorious uncertainties. Yet, the world will not stop if any individual is not prepared for all the challenges of various roles in a global business environment. However, if the individual can understand the basics at every stage, career planning will become a highly enjoyable experience.


Based on my experience in the corporate sector for over three decades, I have discussed above some vital and important steps in modern career planning. It should be noted that the steps are only indicative. They will carry complexities that will be situation-specific or context-specific. The individual has to be alive and fully geared to take on such challenges as he goes along. That he or she does not have a choice is a reality that is applicable in today's challenging times. Career Planning is bound to become a big package in the years to come.

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Author: Umesh01 Dec 2020 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

Nice article by the author for carer planning and sustaining ones career and growth in the industry today. Getting a job may be easier but shaping it in a satisfied and fulfilling career is a big task and one should concentrate in that for making a successful career. Competition is much there and qualified people are swarming the organisations everywhere. In such a condition adding skills as required in the job execution with passage of time and in response to changing technologies is a must. One has to choose or select the appropriate learning path to get prepared for functioning and delivering in a changed environment. So, it is imperative that learning will go hand in hand with the job and one has to focus in areas where there is scope for improvement and innovation resulting in better business deliverables. Only such hard working and foresighted people will get advantage in long run in respect of making a brilliant career for themselves as well as taking their organisations to heights.
There is a line of caution also as technologies are going obsolete very fast and the business dynamics are also changing accordingly. So, only those who can move fast and take early decisions in changing the business to the new customer aspirations would survive in this cut throat arena.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao02 Dec 2020 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 7

A good write up from the author. How one can plan his career and what he has to do for going up in the ladder is well discussed by the author. After completing our education, we start our career and how you perform in the given assignment is observed for making you big in the organisation. So all you have to do is to learn more about the task and go on to perform well so that finally you will be on your successful path. Always be on the learning mode. Whatever you learned, try to apply the same in your work environment. Then only you will be on your growth track. But unfortunately, the syllabus prescribed may not cover all the points you required in your career. This is the main problem that many people face. So while working we should improve our knowledge base by acquiring additional qualifications or additional skills. Only a person who can go that extra mile will survive in the job and go fast to higher positions.
The best way to understand the needs of the job is to go with the seniors who have a good understanding of the subject and who can make you understand the work properly. That will give you an additional chance to learn easy ways to complete the job without any flaw. One should not hesitate to ask and learn the things from experts who happened to be your Gurus or seniors.
Being in touch with the latest developments in the subject and knowing what is happening around us is very important to have a better understanding of the tasks and the method of facing them.

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