Friday, October 29, 2010

Just Another Explorer: Career Start: Multiskilling Vs Specialization

Dear Friends

This is my fourth article in the series. Earlier three

· Interview-How to act as an equal with the Interviewer??

· Why I am MBA, not an Engineer??

· Is Professional Networking Important??

I am writing this article, to answer the questions I used to seek, and I find now, lot of starters seeking it from seniors.

I still remember when I completed my Mechanical Engineering and joined my first job in 2003. All my friends were placed in good companies in all the streams. And the usual style was:

· Initial Orientation i.e. meeting with top bosses and relevant people to give the feeling of grandeur and oneness

· Classroom Training i.e. Minimum skill set that every body in that company needs to have to start from the common platform

· Allotment of individual departments

And, I think that’s still the trend with most of the fresher nowadays.

So, as Mechanical Engineers, I and my friends landed up in departments like:

· Production

· Purchase

· Vendor Development

· Maintenance

· Quality

· R&D

And, most of us stuck to that department for quite a time i.e 2-3 years. Then came the job switch. Now, one has developed a particular skill set and the new company wants to hire the person. So, obviously the company will be hiring the person where the same skill set can be used or in other words the same department.

And so is defined your career.

Then after sometime most of us needed change of profile, and the easiest way was MBA i.e. good profile change, 1 or 2 years of holiday from work and on the business side.

But again, after MBA the same story is repeated i.e. Marketing, HR, Operations, Finance….. But slowly specializing in one department.

Now, let’s rewind it back to my first job.

After first 6 months of my production profile, I was in dilemma what to do? Should I go for new department or should I specialize in this department? And bigger question was should I stay in this job or change the company, as the job market was hot at that time?

So, one of my first bosses guided me that

· You choose the company where you can have multiskilling i.e. you see different areas of work.

It was tough call at that time, and I was not convinced as such. But, going by his word I followed this approach. So, I got my department changed from Production to Projects Department. This department used to decide which machines are to be acquired and if there is any major modification required in any prevalent process. Then after some time, I got my department changed from Projects to R&D. Simultaneously, got additional responsibilities in HR department in Training & Development domain.

During all this time, I was just wandering like a traveler, in each new department taking 2-3 months just to settle down, then learning a skill set, and again changing the department. So, in nutshell in my initial few years of job, I experienced lot of domains but didn’t specialize in any of them. It was tough, as I can see my friends getting command over their domains, which in turn helped them to command better salaries and control. At the same time, my parents were furious, about my approach. Their notion was simple, if you don’t specialize then what good can you do to any company?

Now, that was what I did. Why I did so?

· How much time an average Indian spends before getting started as a graduate in the first job? I think the average age would be around 21-23 years, out of which one invests 19-21 years during studies.

· Now, as a fresher, one starts in one department or domain and ends up doing the same thing for decades. Only difference is scale and place.

· So, one never actually gets much chance to understand where one can contribute better and where one can find more interest.

· So, my question is after spending 21-23 years why can’t we spend 2-3 years more to just understand, where our actual interest and potential lies? Can it be decided by just discussing or reading about it? I don’t think so. There is no substitute of experience. That was my take.

This approach, didn’t give me immediate results, but now reflecting back, I have better understanding of holistic business and especially Manufacturing Business, in comparison to had I been sticking to single domain. It also made me learn better during my MBA, then otherwise would have been.

So, my suggestion to lot of career starters is to experiment and find the actual interest and potential of yours

Via sharing this article, even if one fresher makes better career choice, my purpose is more than served.

Just Another Explorer

Prabal Aggarwal

PS: I got lot of queries, via forwarded mails that can one forward or use the earlier articles, I have written with the same motive.. The very idea, of this article is to share experience, so that the mistakes I did in my professional life, others shouldn’t do it. Even if one professional or student is benefited by this, my purpose is more than served. So, friends if you like it spread it. That’s the whole idea of sharing.

Friends, as an author of this article, I authorize anybody, can use this article for publishing on any media i.e. print, visual, audio, internet, forwarding emails, intranets, etc. Only request is that, the name of the author, body of the article shouldn’t be changed or altered. Secondly, would request to mention that this article was originally written & posted by Prabal Aggarwal, on Oct 29th 2010 on . You can start discussing with me and other readers, by commenting on the blog post. Also, if anybody using this content, feel like that monetary contribution should be made, you can donate on my behalf that sum of money to Project Why (, not for profit organization.

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