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Switching Tracks
Sandeep Ray
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
For the years that I have been in the industry, I have witnessed professionals moving from one job to another or from one position to another as part of career advancement, better opportunities, geographical location and myriad other reasons. However I notice that these instances have become very frequent of late.

What really is driving this? Is it the fast changing world order, swarm of opportunities, a wired world, and globalization of almost everything in sight or growing impatience? Is the world really becoming FLAT?

At an individual level and without attempting to be anywhere close to Thomas Friedman, I think it’s a combination of three important factors- circumstances, conscious efforts and future prospects. While there can be many more factors that one considers while switching jobs, I personally think that these three aforementioned factors shape up such a decision.

Circumstances or external triggers such as the tech melt down or the preceding boom, 9/11 , growing trend of offshoring etc is probably what comes first for a vast majority. Today, India unquestionably is riding high on one such trigger.

The gift of plenty does bring a problem – a problem of choosing the right one among any options and a willingness to spend time and effort. A well thought out conscious effort.
It is not a function of time, the number of years one has been working but purely an urge to change for the better. Needless to mention if one is already in a position of choice, such an urge would be nonexistent.

Future prospects are probably the third piece of the puzzle a concept similar to lets say valuation of a company’s stock. The current price of scrip is some sort of all aggregation of future projected earnings – in short future prospects. Of course in the field of Information Technology, a basic choice one has to make even before valuing the opportunities is which track they want to be. - Technical or Management. Such a choice probably borders conscious effort but nevertheless has to be made in alignment with career goals.

So what really are the considerations behind Management and Technical tracks? At a base level it working with a group of people in contrast to working as an individual. Diverse as they seem they do share a significant portion, which are really part of the core – an understanding of technology, its usage, new developments etc. Yet the differences are significant and it might help understand them a bit.

Management is about energizing others- as a Manager; you are responsible for energizing your team, your employees while the technical role is more about energizing self or intrinsic motivation. You listen to your heart and work. You motivate yourself.

Next comes responsibility. As a Manager you are responsible for the professional growth of people around you., Managers grow when their teams do well and grow in a sense thrieve co-destiny linked to the success or failure of the team. A technical role on the other hand is more related to professional growth and individual accomplishment. One is held by the depth and breadth of technical knowledge and experience.

Listening is another important aspect of management Quite often management is acting based on information provided decision making is based on assimilation of inputs from various sources.. However those on the technical side usually take decisions based on what they themselves observe; a clear contrast when compared to management.

Due to the very nature of management, which is more people oriented, decisions taken, are often people focused such as roles and responsibilities of team members, policies, strategy etc. As one would expect such decision touch members and therefore a need to be sensitive to how other would interpret them. However, a technical track usually involves taking decision on technical matter and does not quite have the same level of touch.

So having delved into some of the differences between tracks, how does one go about switching tracks? How does one prepare?

The best and surest way to identify opportunities is by networking. Getting in touch with other professionals not only helps gather information, but also helps one keep abreast with the latest happenings. Of course extensive reading has always been the best way to follow a fast changing technology arena.

Senior Technology Manager, Trilogy India.
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