Drifting to Happiness

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About the Author :


Dipak Mane is a multifaceted professional with a diverse career spanning various domains such as Customer Service, Site Management, R&D, Project Management, Sales & Marketing, and HR. He has garnered extensive experience across different geographies. Currently, he dedicates his expertise to mentoring executives, imparting knowledge at universities in Switzerland, and contributing as a board member to various companies. Despite his professional commitments, Dipak maintains a keen interest in Physics, Music, and Literature. Residing in Switzerland, he continues to embody a commitment to lifelong learning and interdisciplinary pursuits.

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I am always nervous when asked “How did you plan your career progression?” You will be surprised, at how many times young career aspirants ask this question. My nervousness stems from the fact, that honestly, I really never planned anything. I simply went about selecting some of what came my way, without too much thinking or analysis.

I wanted to study Physics but ended up in Engineering because it was a better choice economically, for a kid from a poor family. I chose a campus job as a Service Engineer, because the top jobs were not available for someone in the 2nd half of the class, academically. From service, I drifted into Site Supervision, R&D and Technology – all of it without planning.

I worked for only 3 companies, in almost 40 years of my corporate career. The last one being for 30+ years. I ended up doing all kinds of jobs/functions, in different geographies and businesses, never once asking for a new or a different job. I ended up as the Group CHRO, a Member of the Executive Board, being responsible for ~ 12,500 people and a Group Salary Bill of ~ $ 1 Billion (this was my first job in HR).

What I did plan, maybe for the first time, was how to get out of P&L/Executive Responsibilities at 60. This did involve some planning, for succession and hand-over. Somehow, I was always creating a second line, which brought more to the table than I ever did; but an Executive Board Level succession in a Large Multi-national is a different ball-game.

Hanging up on P&L responsibilities did not bring relief from work (which I was not seeking as such), but it changed my direction completely. Board positions were offered (again, without seeking them),  teaching assignments showed up (which I gladly accepted), and I got into Advisory and Mentoring Roles.

In high-tension Executive Roles, the balance of things that you like to do and the things you don’t particularly like but HAVE to do is about 50:50. For the first time in my life, I am doing ~ 90% of the things that I like, and I get to choose the priorities.

It is only now, that I realize, I was actually enjoying most of what I was doing all through, and did not have to spend energy on planning my future too much. I guess, simple luck played a big role in how things panned out.

The Drifting (or the ‘Wind-surfing’) is only one of the ways to develop your career. But maybe, there are other ways.

Which one is the right one for you?

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