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Transition from Campus to Corporate Life 04 December, 2012

Shri Suresh Panampilly
Shri Suresh Panampilly

Shri Suresh Panampilly, Global Head, Initial Learning Program, TCS led the session on Online Gurukul on 4th December 2012 with his talk on “Transition from Campus to Corporate Life”.

There are a couple of ways of looking at a career. You can either take up a job or start something on your own.

Entrepreneurship as a choice

Unlike in the past, you don’t need a lot of money to start a business these days. Someone with talent can be on his own and be successful even without a lot of money.

Internet is a great enabler today. For instance, a Physics graduate can choose to be a Freelancing Physics teacher over the web. Or a programmer could advertise his expertise online to pitch for a project from around the globe. There are programs like Khan Academy and Coursera where you may learn at your own pace right from your residence.

Entrepreneurship comes with its own advantages. You can be your own master. As you need to be up to date with the latest in the market, you will always be obsolesce-proof. You also have the choice of doing what you like to do.

However, there are disadvantages as well. You are not assured of a paycheck at the end of the month in the form of salary.

Expectations of Corporate World

The corporate expects different things from you unlike a university.

Universities have exams which follow a definite structure, syllabus and time table. These exams are predictable too. However, in the corporate you are always in some form of an exam or another. You are being tested on your contributions to the organization and value additions made to the organization. You are also tested on whether you have kept pace with the developments in your industry, managed good relations with your stakeholders and customers. These “exams” are not structurally very well defined.

In universities, once you have chosen a field of study, it is not possible to change it. However, in corporate, this can be quite flexible. You might have chosen a technical path in the beginning. You can change to a marketing role or project management role based on your aptitude and inclinations.

Career as a Cricket Match

The 30 to 35 year stint in career can be compared to a cricket match. The strategy used in the first 10 or 15 overs of the innings is different from that of the next 20 overs and again it is different from that of the final 10 overs of the innings. Similarly the strategy in the first 5 to 10 years of career should be different from that of the remaining years.

The first 5 to 10 years should ideally be spent in little bit of experimentation. From a TCS perspective, people in the initial years are encouraged to try their hands on different technologies (JAVA, .NET etc.) or in different roles such as Development or Testing. Try doing different things. It is good to experience different kinds of customers, domains, technologies etc. You should not get too satisfied with success in one area in your initial years. It is necessary to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Also, in the corporate world, in early stages, people overlook mistakes. Within 10 years or so, people expect you to know what you are good at.

Fresher’s outlook to organizations

It is vital to be open to ideas and experiences in your career. That ways, you will discover paths you did not know and also discover choices as you grow up. For instance, be open to moving places. If you are in one city and then an opportunity opens up in another city, grab that chance and move there. It could be a great boost to your career.

Also, you need to make yourself redundant in order to move up in the corporate ladder. Train people and teach them things you know. If you hold on to some skills or knowledge without teaching other people, you may get stuck to your particular role in the organization without any growth.

You can bring in a lot of fresh thought and aptitudes to the organization. There is a possibility of improving things in the organization. But, it is necessary to be patient and understand the culture of the organization. In the mean time, don’t take your organization for granted. Don’t be too humble or too aggressive. Rather, be assertive.

Shri. Panampilly took a few questions from the audience before signing off from this very interesting discussion.