Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The End of an Era

Clicked with my Galaxy S3 at a friends house,
Autumn leaves collected by my friend's 5 year old daughter! :)
“So why are you doing it?” someone asked recently, “Leaving a high paying job, where you are the prodigy in your dream role having had an unprecedented growth path?”. I rambled on with an answer for 10 minutes about some vague reasons, at the end of which the friend in question looked a bit skeptical and said “You haven’t really answered the question, you know.”

Which is perhaps true. I don’t have a reason, really, not the kind people look for. No nasty bosses, no boredom at work, no complains about compensation, no missed opportunities. Except the reason that sometimes I crave change. I become restless. I was reading my post “Just Another Phase” from June this year, and I realized that the restlessness has been there for some time. In Hindi we say that sometimes one has a “kida” (worm) inside him. A worm that will not allow you to sit quietly, even in the most favorable of situations. A worm that will make you restless and drive you to do things, make changes, strive harder. Yes, this was my dream company for as long as I can think, right from school. Yes they did treat me in the most awesome way possible. Yes I did accomplish a very steep climb up the corporate ladder. Yes, I am well loved, well respected and well paid. Yes, even the future prospects seemed very bright. Yes I love my job, my bosses and my colleagues. And yet, I leave. And the reason why I leave all the successful history for a blank page, the known for the unknown, the success for the new beginning, is this “kida”. The reason is because life, after all, begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Separations are never easy. And of course I am nervous, maybe even a bit scared. I do not know a single soul at the new company; the new role involves more responsibilities and decision making, and there are more chances that I will make mistakes. I am changing domains, which means I cannot walk into a meeting and have people listen to me just because I have unbeatable domain knowledge. I will also be speaking to more senior executives at the client end, and be the most senior rep from my company, with no day-to-day support from senior colleagues. As scary as it can get... so yes the transition is not easy.

What is surprising though is that the experience goes against all that I was told. That in sales you get ostracized the moment you put in your papers. That you are forced into quarantine, if, like me you are in a position where you have visibility to company management decisions and sales strategy. And that you are asked to leave immediately because they want to reduce competitor risks. Quite the opposite happened to me, the company made counter offers, but when I didn’t budge, I was requested to serve my full notice period, continue to take part in all negotiations and bids till the very end, and treated in a much nicer way than I expected. I continue to solve issues, address escalations, close bids and coach people even in my last week. And the love is overwhelming, I have a tough time keeping attendance at all the farewell dinners. All senior executives I meet say they are sad to lose me (and believe it or not, that's not what has been said to some people I know who left :P) and that I should contact them if I ever want to come back. And I continue to be invited to the company volleyball matches.

Which goes on to prove that even if I don’t, some people I work with might actually have understood my reasons for leaving, and respected those reasons. I am happy, it would have been horrible if I had left on a bad note. Just like the first kiss and the first girlfriend,  one is always emotional about the first job. Especially if one has been around for 5 and a half years. I am happy, because the company makes me feel loved, even if I will not be a part of it in the future. I am happy, because I know that I can come back someday and be welcomed back.

The challenge in the future will be to go out and find my own identity. As I graduated from my business school and joined my first firm, the identity of my firm became my identity, perhaps because it was a well known brand name in the industry. I became too used to saying “Hi, I am Merlin, from XXX” and people nodding and listening to me more because I was from XXX than because I was Merlin. That perhaps, will change. Just like a kid who comes of age and leaves home to find his own identity, I hope I will be able to stand up and say “Hi, I am Merlin” and for a change, just that.. would suffice!