Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Experiments in Career Reinvention

Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Experiments in Career Reinvention

Article excerpt

How does one define a career? Is it just a job that pays a salary and done as an obvious progression of life after taking a degree from a college? Or can one look at it as a very important part of life itself which involves happiness and balancing one's preferences of life as well. What does following one's passion or calling mean? Can passion and career be the same? Is a career choice serendipitous or a more clinically thought plan that one makes? This case looks at three career trajectories of alumni from IIM Bangalore and looks at careers from a very different perspective to help answer the questions above. The case helps students look at career from various angles and attempts to help them plan their career better. It also delves into aspects like taking risks and handling fears which are relevant in taking unconventional career choices.



Rajnish had changed nine schools by the time he was in the 10th grade and lived all over Central and South India. Although schooling was more about sports and activities outside the classroom, he found himself doing well at subjects such as Mathematics, which naturally appealed to him and was quite sure he wanted to take up engineering as a career. After 12th grade, Rajnish took up a degree in Marine Engineering at Marine Engineering College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India, more as a consequence to not clearing the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology - Govt, owned premier college of engineering and technology in India) than as a choice.

Marine Engineering was a natural choice for him as it was the closest to mechanical engineering and being able to see the machines and mechanics working real-time appealed to him.

College was similar to school, learning happened more outside the classroom though he had figured out that he must study. To Rajnish's displeasure, his college was a very regimented and regulated all-boys institution. The institute demanded all its students to follow a fixed schedule from morning to night and this led Rajnish to an awareness that an environment with too much control was not best suited to him. He says, "I could not take too many orders, can't let a day be defined so much." This helped him to remove the Indian Armed Forces from his list of prospective career options. While at college, Rajnish was similar to any other student, without any lucid plans besides a conspicuous desire for completing engineering and taking up a job in the Merchant Navy.


Rajnish's first job was on a ship with an Indian line from where he later moved to a Japanese line. "That experience was something transformative. Four years of college you don't learn much, but when you work on the ship, you realize the preparation you need to work on ship. Just by the nature of the job, you understand the real engineering systems." A ship is similar to a floating city where every resource to live on and run the ship has to be generated onboard and with minimum people onboard everybody was responsible for everything. This provided Rajnish an extremely hands-on working style, something he always wanted. The very planar working culture where everybody had to work 15 hours a day on an average irrespective of one's level in official hierarchy resulted in making Rajnish very adaptable to adverse and extremely bludgeoning circumstances. At his first job in an Indian line, he worked 15-18 hours every day for 13 months continuously.

Rajnish mostly worked on oil tankers where he had to spend at times up to six months without a sight of land. For him, the job was a combination of physical and mental strength. Although initially, he found it difficult to deal with the stress, he eventually learned to detach himself from the nature of the situation and focus on the immediate actions required. The pre-dominant requirement of the job to take action and tackle constantly occurring technical glitches to catastrophes such as engine failure gave Rajnish the confidence and belief that despite the dire circumstances he could rise above the problems. …

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