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Mentor comments from Dr. Aquil Busrai

Dr. Aquil Busrai

Dr Busrai has had 40 odd years experience in Industry. He has worked in various HR roles with Unilever in Kenya and India and was Executive Director HR Motorola for Asia Pacific countries. He worked with Shell Malaysia as Director Human Resources, Shell Malaysia and Managing Director of Shell People Services Asia Sdn Bhd. His last corporate assignment was with IBM India Limited as Executive Director Human Resources. He is currently CEO of Aquil Busrai Consulting.

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Dr Aquil Busrai, CEO, Aquil Busrai Consulting lays your career worries to rest with his expert advice

I am a victim of office politics and have been targeted by senior male members due to my good performance. I was working as the branch manager of a company and giving great business to the company as well. So the territory manager was not happy and he used to shout at me all the time. He would crack dirty jokes with his male counterparts when we were in a group, and I was forced to leave the place as I was the only female there. This led me to isolation which he was very happy about. He would ask my juniors to not abide by my orders. He fired my office boys behind my back. A lot of such day-to-day harassment led me to leave the job finally. Can you suggest how to handle such colleagues?- Tripti

Tripti, you have been wronged ? and that's a fact. Sexual harassment at the workplace is an offence and a complete taboo. No one indulging in it should be allowed to get away simply because they are in a position of power and authority. I note that you have left the job, presumably driven to an extreme point of frustration and discomfort. I would suggest you consider going back to the same organisation and meeting the CEO one-on-one. In that meeting, put your case of harassment with anecdotal evidence and raise a formal complaint against the offender. Also ask for an apology from the offender and more importantly, demand reinstatement, but in a different department. Be polite but firm. Hopefully, the CEO will see the seriousness of the issue and close the matter amicably. If he does not, then let him know you will pursue the matter through a formal route. You may be thinking, how will you ever ?fight? such powerful people. Put that doubt to rest. Approach a Women?s Rights organisation and let them take your case up. Do not worry - such things can and are handled confidentially. Avoid revealing this to other people in your previous workplace ? they will simply gossip. Later, share the outcome through this column. Best wishes.

Sir, I am a 2011 MBA graduate. After MBA, I decided to work in a public sector bank and started preparing for Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) common written exam. I passed the LIC officers exam, but I could not qualify for an interview. After that I have passed three IBPS exams, but I was not able to achieve the desired cutoff marks and henc,e I am depressed that I have wasted my three precious years. I don?t have any experience, I have no job, and I have lost my good health due to depression. Please help.- Ankur Sen

Ankur, may I ask why this penchant for a public sector organisation? Are you presuming that they offer more job security? You are young and getting a right grounding in career should take precedence over unfounded job security concerns. You have tried your best and now there is no need to look back. Start looking for a job that fits in with your basic qualification of MBA. Admittedly without experience and with a three years lapse, getting the right-fit job will be a challenge. Do not lose courage. Try getting into a job that gives you experience. I do not know which field you majored in, but even getting into an entry level job could be a good option as it will get you an entry into the business world. Once you pass this stage, you will be surprised how quickly you could recover lost years ? provided of course you work extra hard and with diligence. Do not compare your career with those of your batchmates in MBA. Chart your own path and consciously avoid feeling remorse about lost opportunities in the public sector.

Sir, I have ended up in a job which is not suited for my qualifications. I joined a public sector enterprise in a technician role after my post-graduation (MCom). As this is my bread and butter, I cannot dare to leave the job. But, I did acquire CA (inter) and later ICAW professional qualifications. The public enterprise where I am working has shifted me to the finance department due to some unknown reason and chances of getting a better offer in my organisation are uncertain. I am 44 years old and quite frustrated. How can I use my qualification to advance my career?- Surajit Dutta

Surajit, it seems you are a thorough-bred commercial person ? MCom plus CA plus ICWA and now the organisation is transferring you from a technician role to one in finance. This is like a banner proclaiming ?Welcome home!!? You are now apparently where you belong ? so where is the dilemma? Does ?better offer? mean better salary? If so, may I suggest that you get yourself firmly established in the finance function leveraging the commercial qualifications you have obtained. The rest will fall in place over a period of time, if you sincerely apply your mind to your new line of work. It?s time to enjoy a career where you have the requisite qualifications.

I would like to thank the Ascent team for bringing such good career guidance to help other professionals. I did my MBA in HR and marketing and since two years, I'm working as an HR professional in the manufacturing sector. But now, I have a good opportunity in international marketing in a diamond trading company. So, I'm a little confused about whether to continue in HR or switch to a marketing profile. What do you suggest?- Mayank Dave

Mayank, thank you for the kind words. It is common for MBA students to choose two divergent fields during campus days. A high number of students choose finance and marketing only to improve their chances of simply getting a job. It does not however, mean that they are suitable for both the professions simultaneously. Are you happy working in HR? If it is so, then what prompted you to explore a career in marketing? Or is the word ?international? raising images in your mind of a globe trotting assignment? Ask yourself where your strength and interest lie and stay in that line of profession. Be objective.

I am a final year civil engineering student recruited by a leading construction company during campus placements. I am really passionate about joining the company and looking forward to gaining some valuable experience in my domain. I am also eager to pursue MBA in HR from a top college, once I gain some solid experience. What kind of role can I expect in the corporate world in future after gaining an MBA degree with my technical background? I am also passionate about entrepreneurship. What steps should I take in that direction with reference to my career? Please guide. - Siddharth Khatri

Siddharth, I can see passion oozing out from every sentence. Keep dreaming big but at the same time ? stay focused. You have a technical background and a technical job in hand, so make the most of this good combination. After two to three years of quality work experience, go for a reputed MBA and you will notice how good your career graph looks then. If you also want to be an entrepreneur and have a bright business plan, then do not hold yourself back. Take the plunge. But most importantly - take one step at a time. Focus and then decide.

I am a B Tech mechanical fresher (2014 pass out). I am looking for a job but all the companies are looking for experienced people and big companies are looking for references. I know some designing software as well. So what should I do to find a good job?- Abhishek Aggarwal

Abhishek, this is the sad reality of life. And a very painful encounter when one is young and eager to change the world, armed with enthusiasm and passion. Most of us have gone through it, if that is some solace. But look for a position of fresh trainees, preferably in a mid-sized or small organisation. Learning in such an environment is often better. Decide between mechanical engineering and software and then proceed in a concentrated manner. All companies do not look for references ? merit does matter.

I have graduated in engineering in IT, and am currently doing my PG in MBA through distance learning and am working in a reputed educational institute as a counsellor. Though being from an IT background, I always love to deal with people and manage all activities, so my question is: in which field should I specialise my MBA in? Are there any career opportunities apart from being a counsellor for me to earn well as well as to stay in touch with my passion?- Dhwani Sangani

Dhwani, a career in human resources could be one option you can consider. IT and ITeS industries need professionals like you who have a combination of technical knowledge as well as a passion for people. However, be cautious about the qualifications you collect ? especially through distance learning. Make sure they are reputed as well as truly a value-add for knowledge.

Sir, I have 15 years of experience in civil services but I have no diploma, so please tell me, which is the civil-related course that I can complete in a short time and through correspondence.- Pinaki Dey Sarkar

Pinaki, first ask yourself, why do you need a diploma at all? If you need knowledge, then explore short-term certification programmes ? but of good quality and those relevant to your background. With such a rich experience, supplement your learning journey by undertaking a few extra projects, if possible. Stay tuned to changes happening in your professional circuit through serious reading, perhaps writing and teaching. A combination of some of this will enhance your knowledge base.

Sir, I am a 12th standard student. I want to explore and opt for a career path that is ?less-travelled? and has great career opportunities. CA, CS and CLAT don?t interest me much. Please suggest some good career options.- Nikita

Nikita, at your age it is natural to explore the unknown ? even in a career. There is nothing wrong with it. But first assess what type of career will excite you. Next, get a correct foundation through education in that field. Consult a few professionals, counsellors and teachers. Get a mentor. All this will help you assess what options you have and which one best suits your career aspirations. In the meantime, pay serious attention to your studies and get good grades. Dreams should not replace reality.

Please be informed that I resigned from the post of regional manager (credit, risk, recovery, portfolio management) as I became a victim of a fake appointment from a consultancy firm in the Gulf. Since then, I am jobless with my family including a son, my wife and widowed mother. Now, my wife is pregnant too. Although I am trying very hard for the last one year, I have not got a job. I am facing great hardships. I pursued E-MBA in finance and can handle roles of operations, liaisoning, credit, risk, credit-risk analysis, etc. Please rescue me in such a situation with your favourable advice.- Hafizur Rahman

Hafizur, I fully empathise with your situation. In fact, your unfortunate experience should be an eye-opener for many who may fall victims to such fraudulent deals. Such foreign appointments should be verified with the Ministry of Labour. They are very helpful and quick to respond. In your case, have you considered going back to your previous employer? Even if they have a position at a slightly lower level, it is worth considering for re-entry. The insurance sector is growing rapidly and could be an option for opportunities for you. Keep faith ? things will work out.

I am a BE Electrical 2012 passout. I have no experience yet. Initially, I was rejected because I was a fresher and also because the role was gender-specific. Then, I started preparing for GRE and TOEFL for one year. But meanwhile, I got married. So as of now, I don't have any plans of pursuing masters and am looking for a job. But at this stage, my three year gap from work is becoming a hurdle. What should I do to overcome that?- Meghna Shah

Meghna, accept certain realities of life upfront. Getting married and starting a family are biological imperatives for women. Do not feel any need to justify them. Since you do not have any experience and three years have lapsed from the academic days - do certainly ensure that you have updated your knowledge. Look for a job opportunity in relatively smaller organisations that will give you a more hands-on experience. Avoid the tendency to feel attracted to a big organisation with high salaries - instead make up for lost time with practical knowledge. Consider those three years as a part of the journey - not lost years. You should also seek some choices that will help you in looking at career choices outside your present interests.

 

I am an experienced professional in the field of electrical engineering. I am working with an oil and gas company at present and have experience in projects, mostly in the field of design. I have an H4 visa for the USA, but I am looking for a job in the USA and preferably in my own field, for which H1Visa will be required. Please advise on what steps to take, so that I can get a chance to work in the USA.- Pavel Gupta

Pavel, why do you want to go to the USA at all? Is it mere glamour or perceived opportunities? Frankly, there are more opportunities in India and China than that part of the globe. Introspect to answer why you want to go - and even after that if you are besotted with the country, then try for opportunities in your own organisation. You could explore an opportunity in the US operation of your current employer. But most importantly - think of future growth and then decide.

 

I worked in a commercial bank for 29 years. I joined as a cashier and took voluntary retirement as assistant manager, leaving six years of valuable service. Now after a gap of three years sitting idle, I feel like doing a job again. But I am unable to find a good job as most employers have an issue with my age. I am 56 years old but healthy. Where can I search for a good job? Remuneration is not a criterion for me. - Ch Narasimhamurty

With your rich experience and passion to remain professionally active, you could consider working for an SME or even an NGO. They need your expertise but cannot afford high quality talent. You will get the satisfaction of making a contribution while engaging yourself and they will benefit from your knowledge and experience - a win-win situation.

 

I am working as an assistant manager in power procurement since the last two years and a year in electrical maintenance. I want to work in the field of power procurement trading in a good company. Do I need to do an MBA? Is it useful doing an executive MBA in finance? -Roseleena

Roseleena, you already have three years of experience in a technical area. And I presume you want to remain in the same field. An additional qualification is a 'nice-to-have' but ask yourself whether it is a 'need-to-have'. An MBA may not be necessary at this stage to get into a good organisation. But if you want to think in terms of accelerating your overall career - and you can afford two years - then an MBA is worth considering. But here too, be very careful of which institute you obtain your MBA from. In my opinion, do not blindly chase an MBA degree for the sake of one.

 

Sir, I am an HR professional with ten years of experience in the field of HR. But, till date, I am dissatisfied. I am good at interacting with people. Even my first company CEO remembers me fondly. I believe that an employee should work for the individual and not the company. And when I try to improve the process in the company by bringing some new methodologies, I end up going against other individuals. And, the management gets defensive. Am I wrong in my approach? Is it possible for any HR in the company to satisfy all the employees? And, also people suggest that HR is not the profession for me and maybe I need to shift to marketing / business development. After eight years in the field of HR, if I want to change, which stream should I opt for? - Vijay Sena

Vijay, I can empathise with you - you have ideas and ideas but no one to buy them! You may be individually a brilliant professional but start thinking in terms of collaboration, which is the catchword of today's professional world. Publicise your ideas, invite critique and suggestions. Involve others. Do not be apprehensive that in doing so, you will be deprived of credit. An idea will get recognised if it is worth it. If you want to satisfy all - then be ready for disappointment. About shifting from HR to marketing or business development, simply remember - the grass on the other side is not always greener.

 

I have ten years experience in the insurance industry (non-life), but because of my baby and change of residence (to another city), I had to take a break for childcare for a period of six years. In the meantime, I started to acquire more educational qualifications and completed my graduation in BBA. Subsequently, I have qualified for licentiate from Insurance Institute of India and presently, I?m pursuing associateship in the same institute. Also as a backup option, I have completed the nursery teachers training course. However, I am not getting any positive response from any employer in the insurance sector despite having ten years experience in general insurance marketing including insurance broking. Please suggest me any suitable career option according to my experience and qualifications. - Shalini Chakraborty

You have balanced your work and personal life well. And although, a six-year-gap is a bit longer than usual, you must have had a good reason to do so and that decision should be respected. You have taken a smart decision to utilise those six years to gain additional qualifications. This will certainly help you to re-enter the business world. Insurance sector is on the threshold of massive growth, so get into the same industry, may be through a smaller organisation. You will find that career growth will happen soon after you have settled down on re-entry. Regarding your option for nursery teacher ? I feel that could be an option in case you need a source of earning. In my opinion, you have good ten years of experience and now additional qualifications to make a mark in insurance industry. So focus sharply.

 

I was working in a private limited company. While undertaking the employment, the company HR had taken my original educational certificates and had given an acknowledgement that I would serve the company for two years and if I resign or am terminated before that, I am liable to pay 25,000 rupees. Now after three months of employment, I resigned due to personal reasons. The HR is refusing to return my certificates without paying 25,000 rupees. Can a company confiscate my certificates and blackmail me in this manner? What can I do to get my certificates back?- Jimmy

The days of bonded labour are over! In the first place, parting with the original certificates should have been avoided. Companies verify a copy from the original and retain that copy. Originals are always with the owner. Did you sign any ?Service Bond? for serving minimum of two years? Even if you did, such bonds have very limited sanctity. But, you need to determine what you had committed. Even then, no organisation can hold original certificates as ransom. Formally write to the CEO and HR of the organisation to return your original certificates. If they do not agree, then you could serve them a legal notice. It will be cumbersome, but you have very little choice in the matter. It will be near impossible to get the next job without these certificates in your possession.

 

I am working in the steel industry with the job profile of a mechanical engineer since the past three years. I have gained the knowledge of hydraulics, project and mechanical maintenance. I want a switch in job but nothing is happening. can I switch my job from steel to any other sector? Kindly advise.- Ankit Sharma

Ankit, it appears that your educational background fits in well with the job in steel industry. You are perhaps looking for a change because your expectations of career growth or compensation or even job content are not being met. Have you first of all, analysed what is holding you back? You must have gone through at least two annual appraisals ? what is the feedback from the discussion? Are there any areas of development that have been highlighted and have you addressed them? It is important for you to introspect and find answers within you. Your type of skill and background is quite versatile, which means it will fit into non-steel industry too. However, while changing the job may seem like an easy option - it could also lead you ?from a frying pan into the fire? situation. Tread carefully.

 

Hello sir, I have completed my BTech mechanical engineering last year. During my final years, I realised that I am more interested in human beings rather than my subjects. Knowing a person, understanding his/her thought process and encouraging him/her gives me satisfaction. So, I decided to pursue MBA in HR specialisation. I was also doing lectureship in a diploma college. Sir, my dilemma is whether the decision I have taken is right for me or not. Is there any other option which can fulfil my interests and also at a lower cost?- Lisha Sahoo

First of all, determine whether your interest in HR is a passing fancy or is it a driving force? In any case, determine where does your passion lie ? not mere interest. Follow where your passion leads you to and you will never regret. I have a small plaque on my study table that reads ?Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life?. This has influenced me immensely and I will encourage you to think on this line too. At the same time, be ruthlessly objective in assessing your capabilities to pursue a chosen career path. Do you have the requisite competence? If not, how will you acquire? During your MBA in HR, learn the technical part of the HR profession. Get good quality knowledge of HR. When passion and knowledge come together, there is bound to be magic.

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