I grew up in an era where people joined a company and retired from it. My father was one such person. And that used to be the norm. Times have changed and have been changing for some time now. The new mantra is, I want it all, and I want it now!
Nothing wrong with it.
I recall interviewing one candidate who belonged to today’s digital generation, or Gen Z. He was really good, but when asked about what his long-term plans were, he replied, ‘Sir, I will work with your firm, if selected, for a maximum of a year. Then I will explore new avenues.’
At that point, while I was unable to identify myself with his approach, we still hired him. True to what he said, his contribution to the firm was immense. But he put in his papers at the end of 13 months.
Today, almost every organisation is grappling with retention of their workforce. After all, organisations spend a lot of time, effort and financial resources once they onboard a new member. And when people start leaving in a year, or less, it is time to look inward – into the culture prevalent in the organisation. It is time to ask the question – does my organisation reflect the aspirations of today’s generation? In most cases, the answer will be a resounding ‘NO’.
Though watching from a distance, right through the Covid times and the days of WFH, I realise that things have changed – dramatically. Most people have grown comfortable working from home out of whichever town they may be in. And the day, offices reopen completely, there will be a huge churn, which is already apparent. A recent report by an eminent consulting firm mentioned that attrition would reach close to 40% in the organised sector once offices reopen. Managements and HR teams should watch out.
But coming back to the matter of ‘changing jobs’, I guess I was a forerunner of what is happening today. Because in my over 3 decades of working life, I have changed 10 jobs!
Let me take you down memory lane and write about why I changed the jobs when I did, and perhaps the same reasons could be the driving force today. Yes, I know that we did not have a startup culture then, but had there been one, my story would have been no different.
I left my first job in advertising for multiple reasons:
- With the hours I was keeping, my personal life was falling apart. It was not a case of changing the ad firm, because nothing else would have changed
- I was working like a general dogsbody. Proofreading more than anything else, and I was tired of that
- The final straw was when I got a campaign written by me, approved by the client and had hell to pay thereafter. But by then I had already made up my mind
I relocated to Pune thereafter and was associated with 2 ad firms as a consultant. I stayed in Pune for 3 years, created some good stuff, gained a lot of experience professionally. Then followed a move back to Mumbai. The reasons this time were also largely personal:
- My wife did not like Pune for various reasons
- Our son had infantile asthma, and the doctor advised us to move back to a more humid climate. His options, ‘Go to Finland, or go back to Mumbai’.
So, Mumbai it was. With a fantastic opportunity to set up an inhouse communications firm for what was then India’s most respected newspaper publishing group.
That was a very exciting phase for me. Building a team, like one would in an ad firm, with creative minds being roped in to deliver. I also had the opportunity of launching many new publications and writing ad copy in Hindi as well.
Life was good, but it was time to make some money. To do that, I had to move.
After close to five years with the publishing group, I took on an overseas assignment in Dubai with a person who was not the most respected name in India back then.
Here, as mentioned, the reason was just the money. My friends and well-wishers advised me not to take up the assignment, but I was blind to their views. Dubai was a short-lived experience – 18 months. And the reasons were to do with things ethical.
I saw something which was done very unethically and put in my papers. I was threatened by my then Chairman (who is no more now), that he would enforce a ‘labor ban’ on me for having broken my contract. Frankly I could not care less. My wife and son, who were to leave for a vacation a few days later, had to change their tickets to one way. I followed them a month later.
I had no job for almost two months. And no money either.
It was a time to introspect. Do I move back to advertising, or newspaper publishing or take baby steps in the world of corporate communications?
I decided on corporate communications and marketing. Fortunately for me, I got the opportunity to work with a tea-to-tyres business group. Once again, the experience was memorable. And the amount I learnt about different industry categories I could not have learnt anywhere else.
I moved on after almost four years. This time the reasons were:
- A lack of focus by the group on corporate communications. None of the group companies in Mumbai had a communications team, and since I was in a corporate role, things would be recommended but never implemented
- An offer I just could not refuse
I took the plunge again and joined India’s largest IT services firm (which was then unlisted). It was an amazing place and full of learning many new things. We had a wonderful CEO as well, who is my role model till date. The crowning glory was the immensely successful IPO we did.
Moving on from there was not easy, but move I did, for the following reasons:
- An offer from the world’s second largest IT services firm as their Marketing Director for India
- A huge expansion in my role
- The money, which actually helped me finally get a loan to buy a home in Mumbai
It was a short-lived stint, and that had once again to do with family reasons. I was in Bangalore while my wife and son were in Mumbai and my aged parents in Pune. My dad passed away in December 2005, and I wanted to be back with the family in Mumbai.
The next move was into what was then India’s largest retail chain. I loved the maverick boss, and I loved the feeling of having my feet back on the ground. I discovered India by travelling to more than 60 cities, and the learning was humungous.
Boredom, and a lack of support were the two reasons for me then taking the leap of faith. Into microfinance. However, after a successful IPO and events which followed, including a threat to my life ensured that it was a brief stint.
The next move was from being a client to becoming the PR partner to clients – with India’s largest PR firm. The close to 10 years that I was with them were really heady days. The best clients. And amazing people at work, particularly in my teams.
It all came to an end on March 31, 2020. It was time for me to retire. It was time to reflect.
Which is what I do these days, in addition to consulting for a handful of organisations – each one from a sector I am proud to be associated with.
So, dear friends, those were my reasons for changing jobs.
What are your reasons?
Personal? Financial? Boredom? New challenges? Setbacks? Or any other?
I would love to know.
- Appreciate that we live in changing times, and that changing jobs is a part of the changing times
- Try and understand why people leave. As indeed what makes them stay.
- Be truthful to your inner feelings about your current job. If not happy, please do change.
- Remember that if you are not happy doing what you do, you will never do it well.
- It is in your hands to make the change. Don’t ever let it be forced upon you.
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