Solving Career-related challenges for Mid-level & Senior level executives can become quite daunting & complex, but that didn’t deter me from following my passion after working for 18+yrs in the IT industry,
Today, I am helping mid and senior-level professionals who are feeling stuck, bored, stagnated, or confused about their careers to gain Clarity so that they can Reinvent and Grow in their careers.
Here I share a recent Podcast on Transforming your Career.
Hemant: Time management is actually about self-management. Are you clear about what your life priorities are? Like in my case there are eight areas in my life which I have identified which are important to me like health, profession, learning, relationships, finance, social, spirituality and hobbies it could be travel, adventure. Now I want to balance all of these over a period of time. I cannot have all of these elements in single day not even a week. But am I doing all these eight important things in my life over a period of months or three months or six months over a year? If I think I can do that over that time period I think I feel that I am balanced, my life is balanced. So one needs to look at work life balance in a holistic way.
Rupesh: This is episode number seven of ‘The Midlife Station’ podcast with career expert Hemant Deshpande. Hello, this is Rupesh Nahar, host for ‘The Midlife Station’ podcast where we bring in experts and interesting stories of path breakers who have transformed themselves during their midlife so that we can get educated and work towards the betterment of our midlife. Welcome to another episode of ‘The Midlife Station’. I am super excited to interview our today’s guest, Hemant Deshpande. After working for 18+ years in IT industry, Hemant found his true calling in coaching midlevel and senior level professionals. His goal is to help them find the purpose so that they can live their life of purpose. Today, he works with mid and senior level professionals who are feeling stuck, stagnated or confused about their career. He has his world class assessment tools like strength scope, [not clear 02:01], career reinvention process and other powerful techniques in order to help them to gain clarity and also reinvent their career. He is also a mentor to #schools as well as the business owners. In this power packed episode we gather Hemant’s insights on why Hemant moved into the career coaching space, how to go about doing career assessment and scientific ways of finding one’s strength, how can one approach his/her career transition, why does stagnancy begin to creep into a job, what actions can one take to reignite their career growth, how can one achieve work life balance and a lot more. Before we jump in, a request to you to please subscribe to the podcast at Apple podcast, Google podcast or Spotify so that you don’t miss out on any of our future episodes. And to all my listeners out there I’m soon planning to launch a segment where I will ask in questions that you have for our guest and also acknowledge you in the episode. So kindly drop in your burning questions you have along with your name either on our contact page of our website the midlife station/contact or you can write to me directly with your name and questions at email@example.com . Now without much further adieu let us drive straight into our today’s conversation with our guest Hemant Deshpande.
Rupesh: Hi Hemant, I am quite elated to have you on the show today. Thanks a lot for coming in.
Hemant: Hey thanks Rupesh for having me. I am also very excited to be here with you today.
Rupesh: Wonderful, pleasure is all mine Hemant. So, Hemant you focus on quite deep into the career consulting for midlevel professionals.
Where you help them with all their career needs, be it change in the career or growing in their career or even helping them to understand as to what they need from the career standpoint. But before we go deeper into it, I want to take you some 5-10 years back in time when you yourself were working in a corporate job and trying to discover yourself. So can you share with us that story on how did you discover as to what you were passionate about and was there any Eureka moment or aha moment that flashed during that time.
Hemant: Yeah, sure Rupesh, I mean, that’s a great question that you asked and as you asked that question, I automatically kind of, you know, flashback went 6-7 years back in my life and I could recall that it was year 2013, I was in China, I was working with, a large IT multinational company at that time and I was on an assignment in China and that is where I started thinking about how is my career going, what is it that I want to do next? And at that point in time I was actually undergoing a mentorship program within the organization where I got an opportunity to talk to a colleague of mine, a senior colleague of mine who was from a completely different department to talk about, you know, my career, what I want to do and I think when I was expressing myself and having conversations with him, free willing conversations, I realized that, hey, I am doing something which I am really good at. I am getting appreciated for, but there is something missing.” I realized that I was not doing what my heart really wanted to, you know, do. I was not following my heart. So, that’s where I started thinking about what should I do next in my career, what will really give me happiness and that’s where really, the whole career re-invention journey started and, yeah, so that’s where it all started and then the journey went on for about, you know, 2 years in the time I actually made a switch or that’s where it all began.
Rupesh: So, Hemant while you were discussing all these things with your colleague, at what point of time did you realize that you want to move forward and go ahead with coaching the midlevel professionals, helping them in their journey or helping them take career decisions for them. So, this part or this niche what is it that helped you decide that you want to go ahead and work in this area?
Hemant: As I was contemplating about what should I do next, so I was at mid-career, I mean I had 18 years, 18 fantastic years of my career by that time where I had worked in the US for many years, about 5 to 6 years, I had worked in Europe, I had worked in China and I had tasted success as well as failures in my career, and you know, at that juncture of my life and my career when I started thinking about what should I do next, I was not clear about it right from day one. I was thinking about what should I do next and there was confusion, there was fear, there was anxiety also and that’s where I started reading some books around what I like to do, what are my interests, what are my strengths, if I am not doing the work that I am doing now, what will give me excitement, what will interest me to do next. So, it is like the second innings of my life second innings of my career. Now, during that time, I was handling large responsibilities at the company. So, on one side, there were huge professional responsibilities that I was carrying and on the other hand, this churning that was going on inside of me, that was telling me that, hey, you know, you need to look at what you want to do next, find out what you want to do and also being a family man, my son was only two years old at that point in time, not even two years old, one year old at that point in time, so I had family responsibilities also. So, all thise was going on and still there was a clear message coming from inside of me, call that as intuition, telling me that, yeah, this is the time to move forward in your career, do something different and during that time, I felt the need for professional help as in one Sunday evening Rupesh, I was sitting in my living room and I actually searched on Google for a life coach and I found couple of profiles and I found one of the profile suitable and I spoke to that person. That person’s name is Milind Jadhav and I spoke to him and that one conversation I felt comfortable with him and I started working with him as in I hired him as a coach. Now, he was a life coach, he was not a career coach but that whole process of coaching, you know, a professional working with you completely unbiased, completely non-judgmental, completely supporting you, that whole experience helped me so much, I worked with Milind for almost, you know, 9 months to 1 year in 2014 and it helped me immensely. It helped me immensely and then, that is the time I realized that coaching is very, very powerful, that is one. Secondly, I decided that I want to become a coach because by that time I had come to a point that I want to work in people development area because I like communicating with people, I like to learn a lot of things every day, especially the self-development part I like and when I experienced this whole coaching process, I said, “hey, you know what, I am going to become a coach and I want to develop this specialty, I want to work with mid-career professionals who maybe going through a similar journey that I am going through right now, maybe they want to change their careers or they want to do something different with their career,” so that’s where I identified that niche to get into, but the first part was to become a coach, so that’s where, you know, I encountered coaching in a nice way and that’s where I found that to be the next step in my career.
Rupesh: So, what you were saying is, while you were trying to search the answers to your questions, to your problems, it indirectly helped you to find out your niche because you were also going through the same phase, which was mid-career, you were trying to change something and because coaching is something you were really passionate about and the topic which you felt would be the most appropriate would be helping other people who are in the similar boat as you are, helping them identify the career options and transition them from the place where they are currently, maybe unhappy with what they are doing with their career and helping them, guiding them as a career coach so that they can get near to the goal of what they are passionate towards when it comes to career. So, indirectly, finding answers to questions of your own problems, you were able to identify the niche which you finally wanted to pursue?
Hemant: Yeah, that’s, that’s absolutely correct Rupesh because I was going through that journey even after 18 years of corporate experience and I was about what 40 at that point in time and I said that they, you know, coaching can be so empowering, so encouraging and it helped me develop clarity. So I said, hey, you know what, this can be helpful to so many thousands of people who could be looking for this kind of professional help and I said because I have travelled that journey, I have lived that journey, I felt that I can be that person who can be of service to these mid-career professionals.
Rupesh: And how did you plan this transition or how did you cross the bridge from being in the job and moving out and doing something of your own because I think you might need to do planning when it comes to financial aspect and even taking care of things at the personal level, so can you just share some insights on how did you plan this transition?
Hemant: Yeah, sure Rupesh, so planning is an important aspect of, you know, any transition in life and since we are talking about career transition, here definitely there is planning that is required, especially it becomes critical because one is at a mid-life situation like I was 40 at that time. I had family to take care of. I was the only earning member in the family. So, if I am looking at changing my career, leaving my corporate job and wanting to do something different in my career, definitely it is a critical piece to plan it out properly. So, first part of planning was, I first spoke to my wife Shubangi, telling her that, this is something that is going on in my head and I am thinking about doing something different in my career and we had a conversation. And she asked me, “Hemant, you have good role in this great company that you have been working with, your career is going well, you are the only earning member in the family, we have a young son, isn’t this a big risk?” And she was right, I mean, she was thinking about the family and rightly so and I said that, “I know this is a big risk but I also was clear about this that if I did not take that risk, if I do not take that risk, then it will be the biggest risk of my life is what I told her at that time.” I don’t know where I found courage or clarity to say that in that moment and when she heard that from me, she said that I can see that determination in you and I am going to support you through this journey and she absolutely stood like a rock with me throughout the journey that was one part. The second part was, I spoke to my parents, father and my mother. My father is no more, passed away in 2014, but he was alive when I started thinking about career change. So one evening I spoke to both my mom and dad together, I sat them down and I said that I want to share something with you, I want to change my career, I am thinking about doing something different, what I like to do and both of them were very supportive of me. They said that, “Go ahead Hemant, there is no worry, and you have our blessings.” And that was such a relief for me that I had the complete family support and the next person that I talked to Rupesh was my financial planner and you are absolutely right, you brought the financial aspect. It is a critical aspect because it is a practical aspect, it is a need to run the family. So, the next person I spoke to is my dear friend and also financial planner. His name is Chenthil Iyer. I spoke to him saying that, “Hey Chenthil, I am going to leave my job, maybe in few months and I am going to start a new career. I am getting into coaching, I am getting into training and I don’t know how much money I am going to make next year if I quit my job.” So, we sat down, me, my wife and my financial planner Chenthil. We sat down, we looked down at different scenarios that what will happen if Hemant quits his job in let’s say 3 months, 6 months and let’s say he is not earning anything for the next 3 months , 6 months, year, what will happen. We kind of created these different scenarios and we looked at the financial numbers and it gave me clarity that okay, I have this much of time. For example, he told me that, okay, so you have one year time with you Hemant to quit your job and start doing something on your own. Whatever you want to do, you do that in one year and start earning money. That took away anxiety to certain extent, to a great extent I would say and these are different aspects of planning that were there. There is more to planning in terms of actually looking at what is it that I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it. So the first part of the whole planning process is exploration, you know, which I mentioned about earlier that I was reading books, I was trying to find out more about myself, call that as enhancing self-awareness, I was doing that already, the second part was once I identified that, hey I want to do coaching and for this reason, because I love coaching it has helped me and I want to help other mid-career professionals, so I want to do coaching. So, how do I do coaching? So, I need to prepare myself and then preparation stage, so I need to do certifications. So I started finding out information about that, all of those aspects. There is one more aspect Rupesh, which I must share with you and all the listeners and audience that who is listening to this podcast is, there was an element which came up with my coach and I told him that, “hey, I want to start my new career, I want to start a new life in a new way but I don’t want this old Hemant to run that new show. I want to really become anew as in I want to transform myself at different levels and how do I do that. So, we had a conversation and my coach suggested to me a life-transforming course which was the Landmark Forum and I immediately enrolled for that program and Milind was the person who suggested to me that, “hey, if you want to transform yourself, there is one course that I would recommend highly. Go ahead and do the Landmark Forum.” And I immediately enrolled for that course and I completed my Landmark Forum in [not clear 17:21]. It gave me tremendous amount of clarity about myself, about my life. It transformed me in many ways and then I said, “okay, now I am ready to create a new life and a new career.” So, these were different aspects, there is more but I will share that with you in the flow of the conversation.
Rupesh: Thanks Hemant for sharing us the different perspective, so you mentioned about first, self-exploration phase where you would easily ask questions to yourself, get some introspection to understand what you really want to do and once that was a bit clear to you, you then went ahead, discussed the option with your parents, your wife and also discussed it with financial planner to understand how much time you can sustain with say for example no income and then you went about, okay, this is the time you have and then how would you go ahead and plan to earn a sustainable income in the niche which you wanted to pursue. So I think that gives a fair bit of clarity Hemant and thanks for sharing that personal story. So, I would now like to take forward our conversation to one of the most sought after topics that runs on top of the mind of more or less every mid-level professional which is about the career planning and challenges associated with it and here while we move forward, I want to dissect our entire conversation into three main parts. So the first part is, say someone wants to identify what is the right career path for him, sometimes we land up into a career which we might not enjoy and we also don’t really know what we want to do from career per se. So, more or less if I can call it as a career assessment phase. The second part which I wanted to touch-base was about once we determine, okay what I want to do, then how we would make that shift? How we would go ahead about changing the career and the third phase is once we do the change, we are into a career which we like but sometimes after being in that career for say 2-3 years, it may happen that there is some stagnancy that begins to creep in, so from that point when there is a stagnancy, how can you re-ignite the passion and grow is the third part which I wanted to discuss. So, having said that, let’s go ahead and dig a bit deeper into the first part which is the career assessment. So, what will be your approach on helping him or her in finding out what one really wants from his career? So, do you have any framework or any specific steps that you take to help them identify?
Hemant: It is very nice that you kind of broke it down into 3 steps like assessment and then, you know, going about actual changing the career and then stabilizing and growing in your career. so, nicely done. I will first talk about assessment. So, the assessment piece, so I can go back to the time when I was assessing my life and career at that time and career and life, see, they are integrated aspects, you know, to each other. Career-wise, I was carrying high responsibility on my shoulders. At that point in time, I was playing a program manager role but what it also meant was that there were lots of demands at work from my role because it was a critical program, it was a large program, and so work-life balance was missing. There was lot of stress. Work-life balance was missing, so I was not able to spend time with my family and as I shared earlier, my son was young, I mean, he was, you know, only two years old at that point in time, I mean, I am talking about 2014 and I was not able to spend time with him which left me guilty. I used to leave early to office like 7:30, 8 o’ clock in the morning, would return from office, let’s say by 8 o’ clock or 9 o’ clock in the evening, sometimes even later than that. So I would be tired by that time, I wouldn’t have energy, so that was one part which I was not happy about. The second aspect was the work itself. I was not enjoying it, you know, I was enjoying my career, I was enjoying my roles, there was satisfaction, but especially the last one year of my career, I did not enjoy it so much, there was lot of stress, stakeholder conflicts, so on and so forth. It impacted my life to the extent that it impacted my health as well because the working hours were long, so my eyes would strain, I would have, you know, I used to experience migraines. I had to actually take painkillers to go through the week at least three, four, five strong painkillers to go through that. So, health was getting impacted, I was not getting time for exercise or I was not feeling energized to even exercise. So, these were aspects that were getting impacted. So, then I asked myself a question that is it really worth it to continue this way and when I started asking that question to myself repeatedly over a period of time, the clear answer that started emerging was no, so that was also an assessment that is this working for me? Is this giving me what I am looking for? So, the answer was no and then I started really, seriously thinking about what needs to change here, what I need to do differently. Now, the other aspect of assessment is if not this, what is next? That is the other aspect of assessment. So, it includes various elements like what are my interests, what are my skills, what is my experience that I can bring. What kind of career options that I can look at like I shared with you earlier that I always enjoyed working with people, their actions, communication, self-development, learning, so what kind of career will give me this opportunity is also an assessment part. Another aspect is what are my personal values, like I valued work-life balance a lot, I valued my health a lot at that juncture and always, of course, and those values were getting impacted, so it is also an assessment based on values, assessment based on my strengths, assessment based on my whole career journey what I have enjoyed, what my achievements have been, what are my needs now, so there are various elements, also the element of personality and what is my personality, what kind of, you know, careers it is suitable for? So assessment has all of these angles and as I am sharing that with you, so when I coach mid-career professionals today, I take them through this journey where they become aware of themselves along all of these aspects. That is the assessment piece, so now assessment has also the third angle which is about, hey, if I, you know, when I looked at coaching, right, I said, okay, can I look at coaching as an alternate career or as a next career? Then I looked at coaching as a field, what kind of opportunities does it offer? What kind of work can I do in the world out there? So, it also has that element of, is it feasible, is it viable, is it going to give me livelihood, is it going to give me enough money and returns when I get into it full-time? So that is also an element of assessment which I looked at.
Rupesh: What I understand is, you are saying that we should look at different aspects when we do our self-assessment. One is about your personal values as to what you value more. Second is understanding your personality, what kind of person you are, your strengths and third angle is whatever you decide, you also check what kind of opportunity it presents whether it has enough ROI for you to persuade going forward. So, all the three angles are to be looked at. Now Hemant, is there any specific way or a scientific way to find out about these aspects because people say, find your strengths, right, but more or less many people struggle with finding their own strengths. Are there any scientific ways to approach these?
Hemant: Yes, absolutely Rupesh, I mean, there are scientific ways and we have scientific tools to assess this and you are right that if you ask somebody that what are your strengths, they would be vague about it. Somebody would say, oh communication, somebody would say planning and if you ask them that what are your top five or top seven strengths, they would struggle to tell you with lot of confidence, but yes, there are tools which help you find what your top seven, top 10 significant strengths are and we use those tools in our coaching program. Same is for your interest. Same is for your values. Same is for your skills. Same is for your achievement. Same is for your career journey what you have learnt so far. So, in our coaching program we have developed scientific tools and scientific assignments and exercises which will actually tell you that all of these things in a factual manner, some of these are scientific instruments such as psychometric test for example which will tell you what kind of personality you have. Also, there are psychometrics which will tell you what your strengths are and other exercises which we have developed which will tell you what your values are, what your skills are, what your learning from career journey can be. It is an introspection that you do but we make it very scientific. So, there are tools that are available Rupesh and we use them extensively in our coaching program.
Rupesh: And as an output of the career assessment which is done, what is that they have clarity?
Hemant: Yeah, so they get clarity on first of all who they are as a person, then, you know, if I ask somebody that, “hey, can you tell me about your personality” and here we are talking about personalities and intrinsic aspect. Here, personality means that what are your behavioral preferences. Now, there are many aspects about our own behavior that we are blind to or not so much aware of. So, when you go through the scientific assessments, you become aware of, you know, the scientific tool that we use, the psychometric that we use which tells you 30 different aspects about your own personality which one cannot just sit and say that, hey, you know, without a scientific tool, it is very difficult to tell about yourself. So, they get clarity. So, one of the outcomes of assessment is clarity, enhanced self-awareness. So, that is one personality piece. The values piece also tells you that what is really important for you. That introspection, that reflection about what is important in my life today, gives you an opportunity to actually write down what are your top 10 values are and is your career and is your life aligned to those values or not, because one thing Rupesh that I have found is that when my work, my life is not aligned to my personal values, there is dissatisfaction. There is a sense of non-fulfillment, but when my work, my life is aligned to my personal values, there is joy, there is fulfillment, there is satisfaction and it makes me happy. Assessment also tells you that are you using your skills to the fullest? Are you using your learning from your life and your career? Are you taking forward your strengths? Strengths also, another thing, right, uh, there is scientific assessment for that. Once you know what your strengths are, then you can leverage those strengths. A lot of times it happens that people conventionally keep working on fixing their weaknesses and that approach doesn’t work but when you know your strengths, when you know what your seven significant strengths are, which we find out through a tool, you can actually build your life and your career around those strengths. For example today, I have built my coaching practice and the work that I do around my strengths. Yes, there are certain areas of development also that I have, which I work on and I have other members on my team who work on areas where I am weak. I can do that because I know what my strengths are and what is that I am working towards and why I am working towards that future, that clarity gives a lot of motivation. It gives lot of inspiration actually to move forward. So, these are all the outcomes of the assessment that one can expect. In addition to that, once you know, once the person knows all these aspects of about themselves, they can actually look at different possibilities in their career. They can come up with different options for themselves and they can pursue what is more suitable for them. So, that’s another aspect which is a practical aspect of career change that we can actually look at different roles, it could be within the same industry or it could be a completely different career. There are multiple options that would emerge from that exploration. So, outcome of these assessments and exploration is also coming up with different possibilities in your career and life.
Rupesh: Thanks Hemant, that was very profound and quite detailed. Now, after going through the assessment phase, once I have a clarity on, of course the personality traits and also what are different career options one has which can be with respect to what kind of roles would better suit a person based on his traits and his interest, what kind of domain he can look at, so once we have that fair bit of idea and then we move to the next stage which is about how do we make the transition. From that perspective, how does one generally plan for that career change? What are the steps specifically one should take since it is a midlevel where there are many other aspects as we discussed briefly at the start of our conversation, the personal, the financial and also if the industry is totally different, then what you are working on today, then how we cross that bridge? So, would you like to highlight and share some insights on how one can make that change?
Hemant: So, first of all if we look at career change. So, let’s look at what career change is? Now, career change could mean different things to different people. All the clients that I have worked with in the last five and half years, I think I would have worked with more than 200 clients so far in the last five and half years. Everybody’s definition of career change is different and it is completely defined by them what they are looking for. For example, some clients when they talk about career change, they are actually talking about a job change. Some clients are looking for a role change because they are not happy with that role and that role is not giving them satisfaction. People who are looking for job change, the current organization is not may be the right place for them, they are not happy for different reasons. Career change could also mean that a complete change of career like in my case, I completely transitioned from, you know, program manager role in IT to becoming a coach and facilitator, complete change. Now, for somebody else a career change could also mean a different role in the same industry. Some people may not take a big bang approach to that. Now, career change, you talk about transition. Yes, transition is an important phase to look at. So, how I would look at it is this way. First, explore yourself, like you first explore who you are, what are the different aspects that there are about you, right, which we talked about career journey, your values, your skills, your strengths, your achievements, your personality and so on. Explore that. From that exploration, the outcome is, hey, what do you see for yourself? What kind of picture that is emerging from there? What kind of roles that you would enjoy because you also look at interests. What kind of roles you would enjoy, could be within the same company, it could be within the same industry, could be another organization and it could be a complete change of career, look at that. Once you have identified that then start preparing yourself that is where the preparation stage starts. Preparing means that you start finding out more about those roles, that talking to people who are playing those roles, doing your search on internet, you know, there is lot of information, there is so much information available these days on internet and you can also talk to people who are playing those roles, find out more information, do your market research around that and then start preparing towards those roles and it may take you some time like in my case it took me almost a year, a year and a half since the time I started thinking about career change and when actually I did that. It took me almost one and half years. So, it could take time for you to explore, identify options, prepare yourself and then you start actually positioning yourself also because if it is related to let’s say job change or a role change within the same industry, you have to also prepare yourself by doing some courses or developing skills on the job that are required in that new role and then also positioning yourself that you need to talk to people that, hey, I am now ready to do this role. Put it in your CV, put it on LinkedIn and stuff like that, you start preparing yourself and positioning yourself. So, summarizing this I would say exploration, identifying options, short listing your options and start doing the market research, start doing the analysis around that, data gathering around that, start preparing yourself, then start positioning yourself, so these are different stages that one goes through, that I did go through all of these phases and so also my clients. So, we go through these different stages so that you don’t rush to any conclusion randomly. You go through this systematically and incrementally and that is how I would look at career transition if one wants to do it systematically and in a scientific way.
Rupesh: That was quite methodical and typically based on your experience with your clients, what is the average time it takes for people to go through all these steps and move to the career which they are looking out for. Do you think there is a time that can be a factor?
Hemant: Yeah, sure. That’s another great question Rupesh because a lot of clients ask me this question in the very first conversation that Hemant, how much time it is going to take me to move from this role to the next role. Now, this is a decision that one is taking in the middle of their life and middle of their career, right, typically I work with clients more than 10 years of experience, some 15, some 20, some more than 25, 30 also. Now, any decision that you make at that point in time is going to, in my view it has to be taken thoughtfully and everybody wants to take that thoughtfully because there is a lot at stake. So, having said that give yourself time, give yourself time to explore. Now, if everybody’s journey is different, but based on my experience, going through my own journey and journeys of so many of my clients in the last more than 5 years, I can say safely that this is how the rough numbers look like. Exploration that the stage that I talked about typically takes about 6 months’ time, exploration, enhancing your self-awareness, looking at different aspects about yourself, that’s about 6 months, identifying the options that are suitable for you, give it another month or so, couple of months, it entirely depends on the individual how much they want to give to themselves but that decision-making can take a month or two. There is some brainstorming that we do around what option will work best for you after gathering data. So, data gathering can take time also. So, give it couple of months for these different options and then short listing that. So six plus two, eight, right. Then for preparation stage, one should give themselves at least a few months’ time. Now, if you want to do a course which let’s say takes three months or six months, you need to give yourself that much time like when I started into coaching, the first thing that I did was enrolling for a good coach certification program, coach training program and it was a six months program, so I gave myself those six months. So, give yourself let’s say around four to six months to prepare yourself. During, the same time you can start positioning yourself as well, right, talking to people, letting them know that you are willing to take up this role, you are interested, start exploring opportunities within the organization, outside the organization, start talking to people, so that takes, let’s say four to six months together with preparation. So six months for exploration, let’s say couple of months for, you know, short listing your options, identifying the options that you want to go with, so took couple of months for that and then around six months’ time to prepare yourself and start positioning yourself, so around a year’s time, year to year and a half is one should get prepared for and I would say that at the middle of the career, that somebody who has let’s say 15 years of experience, if you look at a job change at that level, that itself can take anywhere between six months to a year’s time, a job change. Now, when you are looking at career change, career transition, give yourself that much time because it is worth it, because whatever decision you make out of that, you will be absolutely clear and convinced about that, hey, I am making the right decision. So that’s how, so in nutshell give yourself a year’s time minimum to explore it fully, prepare yourself and start exploring opportunities.
Rupesh: So, I think what you have mentioned is pretty straightforward and clear, exploration is about knowing yourself better from all angles and which typically takes around six months, then you come out with few options and then you identify which is the most suitable for you, which you want to move forward with, which may take couple of months and then you prepare for the transition which means there might be skill gaps which you have to take care of. It might happen that it is in a totally different industry and I want to just come on to this point in a minute or so, but then what you are saying is, you try to understand what are the gaps, go ahead and do certifications or whatever other aspects that can help you to close the gap and then start establishing yourself or start establishing the credibility by positioning yourself that now you have those skills and then how you can market yourself, maybe as you said, go ahead and change your profile, resume which gives clarity as to what you are looking for and how you have developed that credibility. Go to LinkedIn, do the networking part of it and then take it forward from here. So, while we were discussing this, one thought came to my mind was, let’s take an example that someone is working in an IT industry or a banking industry, now how easy or difficult it is or have you seen those cases where there is huge drastic change where one is completely moving to a different industry, say advertising field. So in this kind of drastic change, is it practical enough for someone to move or transition from the role which they are currently doing which is totally different and they are moving to, as I said to…
Hemant: Yeah, that question also, I get a lot from my clients, especially when I speak to them for the first time. Now, important thing to see here is which you elluded to earlier Rupesh is that what is the skill set that you have right now. What are the transferable skills? If you want to move from one domain from another, what are the skills that you have which are transferable, look at that, like in my case I had 18 years of experience and I had developed certain skill sets which I can easily use in my coaching and I use in my coaching today. Similarly, there are many clients who are also in their leadership development journeys whom I coach. So, career change, Rupesh is also about people moving from one level in the organization to the next, that is also career change because somebody is moving, let’s say from a manager position to let’s say a senior manager position or in a leadership position, that is also a career change and there are skill gaps as you earlier mentioned. So how one needs to look at that, even in that scenario, this is applicable, that what are the transferable skills, what are the things that you do well already, how you can continue that and what are the skills that I need to acquire in that new role. It could be a different industry or it could be the same organization but a different role will also require a different skill set or at least some more skills that you need to develop which you have not developed so far to the extent that the role requires. So, like you asked me, is it practical to move from one industry to another, the answer is yes, but the approach to that will be completely customized to that person, but if I look at it this way, so one is the skill set part which I talked about and which you also spoke about earlier, the other part is interest. Are you really interested in that kind of work? Some people might have already done their own research on the thing because they are interested in that field. Like one of my clients is from Mumbai and she came to me and she was working in a totally different field and she wanted to get into design and she wanted to get into innovation and the work that she was doing was not related to design or not related to innovation but when we started going through the coaching journey, she actually started relating those things to her current role. She started looking at, “oh, how can I look at design in my own role, what can I do differently in my role, how can I apply design thinking for example in my role, the work that I am doing, how can I apply innovation in my work that I am doing right now?” and slowly and surely, over a period of time she was able to get into that role in the same organization where she started working on design and innovation and of course she learnt through courses, she did lot of research on her own, around design thinking, around innovation and now after working on it for about a year…year and a half, now she has switched to another bigger organization in a proper, like a mainstream design and innovation related role, but it was a journey. So she moved from per se a role which was not at all related to design and innovation in her own words, became a design and innovation related role over a period of time and now she has actually moved into that role over a period of time. So yes, so one has to go through that kind of a journey.
Rupesh: Yeah, Hemant I think it is interesting. So, what you are saying is sometimes the role which you aspire for. It might be in the same industry. It is just that you have to open your eyes and see how the interest which you have can be applied to the industry which you are working on or find the closest option which can make that journey a bit quicker and that bridge the person can cross in a bit easy and a quicker manner. So, I think that gives some space.
Hemant: Absolutely right Rupesh and you used a very nice word there, ‘bridge’ from where you are today and where you want to go and the reason why lot of people struggle and I struggled also with that is that they don’t know how to. Some of them know what I want to do next, I want to get into that role but I don’t know how, like some clients come to me saying that, “hey I want to develop myself as a leader, I want to get into VP role, today I am AVP, I want to become a VP, but VP is a senior role and that is a leadership role, I don’t know how to get there. I want to get there but I don’t know how to get there” and then, what we do is actually we build the bridge step by step, how to get there.
Rupesh: I think it is a good segue to the third part which I wanted to discuss, it was about the growth in the career, right, so sometimes you say, for example, now you know, what you want to do, if you went ahead and shifted to the new industry or the new role which you were looking for, you have been working there for some time, but after that the growth gets stagnant and now you want to move from one level to another level which the point which you are mentioning, right, someone wants to become a VP of that company. So, how does one approach it, how can one come out of the stagnancy? Or how one can develop the skills which are needed for career growth? So, maybe we can just discuss on that piece. So why does this first of all happen where the stagnancy begins to creep in even if you are working into an industry or role which you like or you decided?
Hemant: Yeah, that is an interesting question that you asked, right. So, stagnancy could be because of many reasons. Now, what stagnancy means to an individual is also an individual definition. Somebody may be doing the same thing, let’s say for two years, three years, four years, and they feel that oh, now the work has become monotonous, there is nothing new in this” and it becomes, you know, stagnancy. Another aspect to this is, “oh, I am playing the same role, I am AVP for last three years, I haven’t got promotion in last three years, oh, before that I used to get promotion every two years, now it has been three years and there is no sign of promotion or my discussions with my bosses are not going anywhere, I don’t see that happening, that is another aspect of stagnancy. Third aspect of stagnancy could be that “hey, I am not finding my work interesting anymore, it is not satisfying anymore, it is like I am dragging myself to my work, I don’t look forward to it. So, I don’t know what is happening. There could also be another aspect that, “oh, now it is not fulfilling, you know, what I am looking for from my work, that learning is not happening now” and that could also been stagnation for people.
Rupesh: Right, so Hemant, what would you suggest, how can one come out of the stagnancy and achieve the next growth which he is looking out for in that company?
Hemant: You know, I get this question asked a lot especially when senior working professionals come to me and when they say that, “hey, you know what, I am not looking for career change drastically but I want to move to the next role, right, but to me, that is also a career change because even a certain orbit, right, if we use that metaphor that you are in a certain orbit right now and you are moving in that orbit, let’s say for last two years, three years and you are stuck in that orbit. Now, you have an aspiration that you want to move to the next orbit. Now, if we use the rocket analogy how a satellite moves into the next orbit; one, you need fuel, you need extra fuel to move to the next orbit and you also need direction, you need very precise direction where you need to go and the trajectory that you need to take and there is also this term called escape velocity. So, three elements, right, you need the fuel and that fuel is the burning desire, why you want to move to the next role, what is it that you will achieve when you move to the next role, why is it so important for you to move to the next role, that is the burning desire. Second aspect is direction, many people get lost with the direction that how do I do that and that is where the skill set part, the skill gaps part comes into play. Once you are aware about yourself, you know what your skills are and what skill gaps you need to work on, you are clear, you have a direction. So, one of the things that we do Rupesh in the coaching program is create a roadmap, create a roadmap for my clients and okay, this is what you will be doing in the next six months, one year, two years’ time depending on your goal and the timeline that you have assigned to it, so the direction part of it and third is the escape velocity. There has to be velocity which will help you escape this stagnancy and that velocity meaning consistent actions that you take on the ground because only actions produce results, only thinking about it is not going to make any change and another aspect which I will bring in here is that what got you here won’t take you there. So, you need to do something differently and you need to develop that escape velocity with yourself through the consistent actions that you need to take. So, summarizing three elements, one is the burning desire, why you want to do it? Second is the escape velocity consistent actions, after you have defined the direction that what is the bridge that you are going to build there and what are the things that you are going to work on, once you develop that clarity, the direction becomes clear and you create a roadmap and that is your trajectory. So, that is how I would go about tackling the stagnancy.
Rupesh: That’s an amazing metaphor that you have come up with Hemant and I think it gels up with different attributes of a growth path which one would look at. So, as you pointed out the burning desire is an issue, there needs to be a fuel and you need to know where you want to go and once you know that, then you will need to take actions which is the escape velocity which you have been talking about. So, Hemant while we have discussed all the three key challenges that a person usually faces when it comes to his career planning not knowing what to do with is career assessment, then how do I transition from what I don’t enjoy to what I want to do, which is your career movement and the third is about the career growth once you are stagnant. So, I want to also touch up on one of the topics which usually comes in mind of many people about how do you balance work and life. When you are in a career which would demand lot of time from you and there would be challenge with respect to deadlines and pressure and other aspects, right, so many people talk about work-life balance but is it practical enough to think that there can be a balance between work and life when you are in a demanding career and what are your thoughts on that?
Hemant: Sure I mean it is an important aspect which gets talked about a lot, work-life balance, now my view and it is my personal view is work is an important element of life, I mean, you know, even if we take a week’s time, right, seven days typically we work from Monday to Friday eight to 10 hours a day, that makes it about 40 to 50 hours in a week, that’s a lot. Now, if one is happy and clear and energized about the work that they are doing, work-life balance becomes much easier I would say, right. It doesn’t solve the complete problem but it becomes much easier, so that is one thing. The second thing is time management. Now, time management is actually about self-management. Are you clear about what your life priorities are, like in my case, there are eight areas in my life which I have identified which are important to me like health, profession, learning, relationships, finance, social, spirituality and hobbies. It could be travel, adventure. Now, I want to balance all of these over a period of time. I cannot have all of these elements in single day, not even a week, right, but am I doing all these eight important things in my life over a period of month or three months or six months over a year. If I think I can do that over that time period, I think I feel that I am balanced, my life is balanced, so one needs to look at work-life balance in a holistic way, it may happen people who are, you know, working in senior leadership roles or you know, senior roles, they may have large responsibilities on their shoulders. There could be months where there is lot of work but are you taking enough time off after that project delivery is done. The main aspect is, are you burning yourself out? That’s the question that I would ask and take care of different aspects of your life which are important to you.
Rupesh: Quite interesting and a rational way to look at the work-life balance, so what you are suggesting is don’t look at a weekly basis but zoom out your life and look at probably a larger time-frame basis to see whatever your priorities are as you suggested, probably it is health, professional, relationship, learning, etc. and whatever the life priorities are there for people, are they able to accomplish that in that time-frame, so that is more critical than have that farsightedness and zoom out when you talk about work-life balance and not just think at a transactional level that today was I able to complete the priorities, right? That is not the correct way to look at it but look at the holistic level at a bigger time-frame level. That brings us to the last segment of our show which I call the quick fire segment where I will be firing some bullets at you and you need to respond back to them in a minute.
Hemant: Okay, I am ready. Yes. You scared me there, but yeah, I am ready.
Rupesh: So, what is one productive hack that you usually practice and you like to do?
Hemant: So, whatever I need to do I put that in my calendar as a task, that’s my productivity hack.
Rupesh: Who is the famous personality you follow and like?
Hemant: Famous personality, I am absolutely fond of and inspired by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam because the way he went about his life where he came from, you know, how he shaped up his career, you know, the contribution that he made to India, to the society overall and he became the President of India and he is an inspiration to so many people and he keeps inspiring.
Rupesh: And what are the two books that you like the most that you want to recommend?
Hemant: So, one book that, which was the life changer for me in many ways was this book called, “The Path Finder” by Nicholas Lore that is where my career re-invention, career transformation journey began. So, that is one book that I would definitely recommend. There is another book I would recommend, that is called “Love” by Leo Buscaglia and it is an amazing book, you know, it is on a different topic, it is not related to career but it is about way of life and you know, what love means. Another book, right, you asked me two, but I am giving you three, there is another book which is called, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” is another small but very inspiring book.
Rupesh: Thanks for sharing with us a bonus recommendation Hemant.
Rupesh: Those were some of the amazing answers Hemant, thank you. And if someone wants to reach out to you how to do it?
Rupesh: That brings us to end of our show Hemant, this was indeed quite power-packed conversation, you have given the listeners loads of insights around the ‘nittygritties’ on what you have to look out for in transforming and shaping one’s career and as the saying goes, career progression and its success is a journey and not a destination, so it becomes important to apply the principles you have shared on an on-going basis for the continued success. So, thanks a lot Hemant for coming in today and sharing those precious gems with us. I wish you all the success and luck for impacting lives of many more mid-level professionals and helping them in their career transformation.
Hemant: Thank you for having me on your show today and it was a real pleasure, I really enjoyed this conversation, I really loved the questions that you asked and I hope that our conversation will inspire more people in their mid-careers to start chasing their dreams. Thank you so much.
Rupesh: Thank you all for tuning in today. To summarize, the three key takeaways from the show were, one, if you plan to make a career transition, ensure to give yourself at least around one and half years of time. Plan it in three phases.
A, Six months of exploration phase where you discover more about yourself, your skills, your personal values, strengths, personality type as well as your interest.
I hope you liked listening to the show today. If you liked what you heard please do subscribe, rate and review the show on Apple podcasts or Castbox. If you feel the information will help someone then please don’t forget to share it with them through way social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can access the show by visiting Themidlifestation.com/Hemant .That’s all I have for you today. Thanks a lot for tuning in. Have a seat back on next fortnight with another esteemed guest. Until then let us continue to take those small actions towards the betterment of midlife.
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