Jumping Into an Unknown Arena


If you are looking at exploring a new professional domain, there is groundwork to be done.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”- T. S. Eliot

Human beings have an innate desire to evolve and redefine themselves.

When you face a void at work or feel the need to challenge yourself, a move to a new professional domain may seem like a natural solution. However, the prospect of venturing into uncharted territory and the risks that go with it can be deterring. Rahul Sharma*, a lawyer by profession, left a comfortable job to take up a career in technology.

Today, he defines his professional evolution as an adventure that helped him realize his true mettle, but not before he realized that this would cause him an inevitable phase of unending self-doubt, causing him to wonder if he was making a costly mistake. On the other hand, R. Vasu* invested a valuable year working with an internet company before returning to the BFSI domain that he wanted to leave behind.

Exploring a new professional domain is a big decision. Often a candidate could invest considerable time and effort to explore a (radically) different career option, only to draw back at the last stage or to take the plunge, only to find that it simply is not working out.

Before you make the final call to enter a new arena, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

Why do I want to change?

Goal clarity will give you direction as you head out in search of a new role and put your doubts to rest. Take a deep breath and look at the factors that are tempting you to leave behind your current profile. You are on the right track if you are looking for something that:

• Is challenging
• Reverses an earlier decision that you believe was incorrect
• Is rich with new contemporary skills and knowledge
• Draws on your inherent aptitude

It is important to be as specific as you can as to what you stand to gain by making the transition and how long-lasting the impact of the change will be. A transient benefit, for example, may not justify a radical change.

Can I Deliver?
No matter how keen you are on the change, the pressures of the job will soon mount. You need to assess if you have what it takes to show results. In Rahul’s case, his instinctive, almost intuitive understanding of technology, as well as precise and detailed knowledge of his legal career got him off to a great start. This paired with early recognition gave him the confidence to be followed through on his decision.

List the skills and domain knowledge you have gathered over the years as well as your natural abilities and aptitude. Plot these against the requirements of the role you are targeting and run a reality check on your ability to deliver. It’s important to also factor in the future requirements of the role while you are analyzing your KSA.

What is my Learning Paradigm?

A new job might be an extension of the earlier one, with a few challenges thrown in, or you may be entering a completely new domain. Either way, the chances are that the first few months will call for a lot of learning. Assess the extent of learning required and your commitment and ability to assimilate new information.

Lastly, plan the logistics of managing this intensive learning program. You are on a good wicket if you have an industry Mentor or can find one, if you can access formal training or support or have current skills and knowledge that can be useful. If you know that you will have a time window for learning in your new role, it will help with the netire process as well..

Is it too Early/ Late for me to Make This Move?
We’ll answer this one for you. It is only your passion, drive and the ability to carry out your new role responsibilities that matter. But it’s important for you to buy in and believe this. Any time is a good time – as long as you are convinced.

Give yourself time to take the decision regarding shifting your career. Ensure you are mentally prepared for the new role and the challenges that come with it. Once you are set on that, the rest of the journey will become easy.

*Name changed on request

Sandeep Vadnere
Sandeep is the Co-Founder and heads Engineering and Product at HeadHonchos.
He has been a member of the core team since the company’s inception. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science from the University of Mumbai and a Postgraduate Diploma in General Management from XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur.

39 thoughts on “Jumping Into an Unknown Arena

  1. A very interesting post but would the recruiters buy this? It takes two hands to sound a clap…

    I recently completed my MBA in Finance and no one in BFSI space is willing to touch my resume as I have been primarily working in Healthcare. I possess IT transferable skills – but no, recruiters want prior BFSI experience!

    One needs drive, passion and ability to carry out one’s existing role/ responsibilities as well. If one doesn’t posses these, then one would feel as being a misfit in one’s current role.

    The journey is definitely not easy – you don’t even get a platform ticket.

    1. @Mayuri

      We understand your dilemma with regards to not acquiring an appropriate job in your field of interest, but not all companies are so stringent.

      There are many companies in the BFSI space that are in look out for new minds. It

      1. Thank you Editor.

        I hope HeadHoncos is in association with few of these companies and would thus serve as a venue for us to connect.

        Time will tell.

    2. @ Mayuri:

      Since U r very much interested in BFSI, definitely u can try & join with your healthcare background. Here, u need to do extra effort viz.,

      First, u decide, which area of BFSI banking u wish to do? Per se, if you selected Credit department, generally bankers will prefer the people who are industry experienced. U can be very valuable, to assess the technicality of the loan proposal made by various healthcare companies – as U r well versed with the various stages of their businesses. Only thing is u have to brush up some credit related knowledge. It is easy and by doing PG Diplomas or by internet articles – handy.

      In case, u want just be part of operations, some 1 yr. diplomas are easy to opt for. Otherwise, study and appear for the ongoing banking exams which are happening across the year these days. Where u can easily get into.

      Good luck.

  2. This is an interesting subject and one about which I guess I am well qualified to speak; I have had a very interesting career during the course of which I have worked in a variety of industries and sectors, and done well and even excelled. I started as a journalist soon after I completed my mass communications course, with a leading national daily, but within a year the corruption and lack of ethics that ran through the industry sickened me, and when I realised that it had begun to make inroads into my own value system and conduct, I simply quit! I experienced the immense power that an ordinary reporter has, especially when he represents a major media player, and how that power corrupts, quickly and absolutely. I was very much an idealist in those days, and had started journalism with an unrealistic dream of changing the world using the “pen which is mightier than the sword”.
    I switched to advertising. I worked in client servicing and obtained major accounts for the mid-sized ad agency I worked for, and soon noticed that the principals of the agency cared a damn about promises of quality and delivery made to clients. I had to face clients who had been deceived and treated very badly even after they had paid in advance (and I was the only person who actually obtained advance payments fro clients!) while I saw the bosses lounging around leaving the work unattended and unallocated for days.
    I learned the trade and quit to start my own small agency. I struggled for a year before I started getting good clients and started making decent money. I learned everything about printing, publishing, advertising, art, creatives, etc. in that time. But after 2 odd years I got an opportunity to travel the country working with NGO’s, which is where my heart had been anyway, so I shut the ad shop, distributed work to my friends that I had made in the business and left. I travelled all over the country for a period of 6 years, working with volunteers and small teams, training, counselling, doing motivational and personality development, until I got married.
    At this time I realised that I ought to get myself a serious job as I had to support my family and so I , having little confidence that I would be able to get a job after a gap of 6 years on my resume, joined insurance as an advisor. That was a totally new thing for me! At that time I had no clue what the word insurance meant as an industry! Anyway, i dived into it and within a few months had become the unofficial inhouse expert on all products, not only of the company I represented but all private life insurance companies and LIC, which was and continues to be the market leader.
    I then did very well for the next 2 years after which I felt the need to develop a strong work ethic as I had no set work hours and timings, neither was I eligible to qualify for credit cards or personal or housing loans.
    Again I joined an industry I knew nothing about – banking! I worked there for 3 years, did well, got promotions and incentives, but not possessing an MBA degree I knew I could expect no further advancement in the MNC bank that I was working in. So I left and joined a broking firm. I grew there to head the region, with over 40 persons reporting to me, managing 9 branches in 5 cities. I kept learning and growing personally. I then moved to investment banking. And did exceptionally well to secure the largest mandate for PE that the company had ever acquired, either before or since.
    The point that I am making in a rather roundabout fashion is that tackling something new, whether in a new industry or sector, is not such a difficult or impossible thing as it is made out to be; especially if you have the confidence and the hunger to learn. I keep reading about how somebody made an industry change almost as if it is some kind of a miracle! Well, it’s not!
    And if it is then, heck, I have experienced that miracle umpteen times! But seriously, the industry, recruiters, and especially the idiots who conduct most interviews from HR departments, have absolutely no idea as to how to identify good candidates. If the screening is being done by some HR lady or guy, chances are they will miss the most promising candidates because the most promising candidates always have an attitude; and HR people love the horses that pull ‘tongas’ – docile, polite and meek; they just cannot digest the high-stepping, antics and apparent arrogance of the race horse.
    My sincere appeal to any people or companies looking for talent, especially senior positions – please make sure that your leading recruiters (the ones who make the first contact with prospective candidates) are the best and the strongest on people skills. Just remember, almost all stories of great success contain anecdotes of how the person was rejected and considered unworthy by several companies or persons during the course of their career. This is true of individuals as well as companies; remember Google, Facebook, Infosys, Steve Jobs, Amitabh Bachchan, etc.? just to name a few.
    Most top management people have their head in the clouds and no idea of reality because they move about in rarefied atmosphere of success and wealth; they think that recruiting from IIM’s is the solution to their problems. I want to remind my readers that the global economic crisis of 2008, and which is still unravelling, was caused by the so-called smart and intelligent people who have graduated from the top business schools around the world. It is important to understand that many of these giant companies have gotten rich, not because they created something of value that made human lives better, but because they were able to devise ways of cutting corners, subverting laws and regulations, cheating and deceiving in sophisticated ways.
    The true guys are the one closer to the ground; and they are what will make your company succeed. But I have digressed! The point is that you can change anything and everything, whether inside yourself or outside, if only you have the courage, the will and the belief. So just go ahead and do it, if you really wish!

    1. Dear Hemant,
      Kudos to your courage and conviction. Its quite encoraging. All the best in your future “adventures”.
      Best regards,

      1. Thank you Prem! And yes, further adventures are happening! I am now building a portal in the IT industry which I had very little knowledge about until a couple of years back. I am amazed at the amount of new things one can learn out there! There is so much and learning and growing is so much fun and fulfilling. I think that, and the grace of God, are the reason why I could do what I have done. All the best to you for your future adventures!

    2. Dear Hemant,
      Your write up on your career life is awesome. All along i thought why does it happen only to me..Its extremely encouraging and specially to know that there are others as well facing the same issues as I am..All the very best. its just your courage and confidence and luck of course which saw you through all your turmoils..

      1. Thanks Saji! I wish you all the best too. Just one minor correction – instead of luck, I will attribute it to God, who made the heavens and the earth. I don’t believe in luck. We, each, have our lives and while it appears that somebody else has it much better, the fact is that nobody really is without pain and troubles. So just accept everything about your life, your circumstances, your looks, your body, your family – thank God for it, and then forge ahead. You will emerge stronger and wiser and more compassionate towards others. After all these years, I find it very difficult to hate anyone, because we are all the same inside.

    3. Hi Hemant,

      Your career graph is quite encouraging and good morale booster. Yes i also dont hv big degrees but hv been able to successfully survive the last 12 yrs, people discouraged me a lot but without paying attention i hv moved forward. Honesty and dedication pays, and ur comment “The true guys are the one closer to the ground; ” is absolutely correct. Currently i m also in banking and willing to relocate back to my hometown. All the best for ur future endeavors.

    4. It was great reading about your interesting career graph. ! I also truly believe that it is the personal drive of an individual which decides the outcome of his/her life. Life has to be lived in totality , and not for the sake of a steady job .

    5. Many thanks for your details post Hemant – truly inspiring. But I am afraid I am not able to generalize it.

      Accept it or not, gender bias is very prominent globally. The industry will accept a man experimenting the way you did – they will even appreciate it say you have entrepreneurial spirit and the other adjectives that you know better!

      But the case is not so for our gender. If we want to experiment, we are stamped with qualities like unreliable, undecided, job-hopper etc…

      A lot needs to improve and the most saddest part is that we are way way away from progress in the right direction.

    6. @Hemant Thorat

      We truly appreciate you for sharing your career experiences with us and agree upon your outlook towards being down to earth along with having the belief and will power to make a difference.

      Career as we know is a big step in life and making an effort to work on different career paths to find out what suits us best is a difficult task. We look forward to your future participation.

  3. Good article, the person who has written this has been through some changes him/her self. But the industry is different kind of an animal. It does not recognize efforts put in in understanding a particular industry and which can be applied to other industry.

    Today’s so called IT generation of HR does not even bother to look at what has been accomplished till date as they believe that anything one else where is not relevant experience. They cannot accept a fact that people need and posses different skills in the market apart from IT and its is important for IT to also know them. They do not believe in generalist but only specialist who are just suited for one particular job.

    As if you are a generalist the need for change does not appear at all in the first place as you are already multi tasking in any given role or assignment , its the specialist who faces the void at work and then the look out for change.

    The other option is to take on something new when you get to the feel of comfort in the current job and get the experience in you to work a magic for you , which it will if implemented correctly .

    1. @Shashidhar

      We appreciate your response towards our article. As you have rightly said, one has to be comfortable in the job he /she is in.

      As the level of comfort in ones job decides the level of excellence in ones performance. Looking forward to your active participation in the future.

  4. Dear Hemant,

    How well written about Managers who know little and recruiters who can’t stand the “attitude” of achievers.

    But what is the advise to those achievers who can do something but are not allowed to.

    How can they change over to more challenging tasks.


  5. Dear Hemant,

    that is so interesting…and I can relate to it. I did my Masters in Foreign Trade from IIFT Delhi- got a good well paying job at Maruti- chose to do exports since I had invested 2 years learning about it. Spent 3.5 years there but didnt see personal excitement there. Left PF, Gratuity etc ( read security) and moved to training since I wanted to work with people but in a positive way ( not an HR policing way). Joint a company for 8 months, hated the work ethic there and moved onto another small training consultancy run by an American. Worked there for a year and was miserable selling stuff for an American who didnt understand Indian work ethic and only focused on profits. Worked for another training agency at a small pay for 5 years. Loved the culture and learnt A LOT. Then wanted to be on the otherside of the table and joined a large Corporate looking after Learning. Recession hit!! Joined the developmental sector 2 years – working in a PPP,was the first employee, instrumental in making the organisation nationally recognised ..love it here. Have learnt Investment banking, negotiation and deal making since we operate like a VC. I head the function and love the work though I didnt know Cash flows from P&Ls 2 years ago. I like what I do and am passionate, committed and have a good work ethic. And am a tremendous learner. My team members swear by me . But corporates have forgotten about looking for basic attributes- I get so annoyed at all recruitment creatures who talk to me and dont know what it takes to make a leader and get good competencies on Board. Fortunately, my Chairman is an old fashioned Corporate leader and he recruits only for culture. But yes, at the end of the day- I can look at myself in the mirror and say- I am satisfied with what I have done and enjoy it everyday!

    1. 16.03.2012

      Dear Bhavna,

      I want to share an interesting event when I was at ANB. Sitting right next to the CEO’s desk, I was trying to assimilate and put together formats of two IT-Risk Assurance reports of TATA Group Companies. The staff outside had no clue that it was in reality the design and structure of an SOP for Ranbaxy, that was being evolved for each ANB segment. They were thinking that ANB was “branching off” in different directions; which in reality we were consolidating our operating resources.
      It was a wonderful experience.

      Have a nice day.


      FCA Prashant Chavan
      Mumbai – 9920299337

  6. good article.
    very few take call waht their heart says. I fully agree with you ;learning never ceases and one who takes risks benefites the most.mine is not so encouraging story .
    wish you all the best

  7. Well such a nice post and a postive people in this group thanks everyone. Love to be in touch with everbody like you .


      Agreed. Thank you for your insightful response to our post. We do believe, success in general comes with failures at various stages. It is better to overcome those failures in ones career than making it a weakness.

  8. I am reminded of a situation where a candidate was selected in 3 layer interview but was not offered the job since he was not MBA.
    I brings out our mindset of linear thinking. The ground level realities have drastically changed with in last decade due to TV/mobiles, but keep on harping on the skill sets of 80’s and 90’s. Still we keep on hearing long term planning and optimisations whereas in reality we cannot even guess things beyond a year. We still pay no importance to our ground level knowlege/Jugad….. Now the scenarios to be managed are adhoc, limited span tasks, regional, and require urgency. These situations cannot wait for optimal solution. One has to get best with passion , and move to next challenge..

  9. This was a very helpful article for me, and came at a very right time. I am thinking of changing verticals and was really in two minds about doing it. This was so very helpful in helping me to take the plunge. Thank you all!

    1. @Ms

      Thank you for your valuable feedback. We are glad to know this article has helped you in making the right career decision.

  10. hi Everyone, reading each post was highly motivating. As Tom Clancy once said ‘FACTS ARE STRANGER FICTION’, we can learn so much from each other’s life experience and sharing our insights is the key to growing as a human being.

    1. @ Magesh Srinivasan

      We appreciate your response to our posts. You have rightly stated that sharing insights helps one to get a better perspective towards life.

      We do believe that, when people share their experiences with each other, a lot can be learned and those learning

  11. Hi All,

    This is regarding the Hemant’s first post. Excellent Job done. Yes, I totally agree. I had been in the industry for past 20 years. Have worked in International airport at Tarmac, Been account executive, sales, then IT development, management. etc. One has to look at the potential of an individual, the quest to do it attitude. Now, currently having a break. 🙂 One has to live on their values what may come. That will strive and take you to the next level. I agree, I used to never believe in luck, in GOD. Now, I strongly believe that “Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it. This is certain ” by Ramana Maharishi. You dive into your SELF and go according what is right, valued thing to do… You will never fail. Let people have their say because thats what the world is..


  12. Hi All,
    Firstly, I would like to express my thanks for the person who contributed this article .
    Secondly a really positive and good beginning was given by Hemant Thorat by sharing his own experiences . That gives lot of moral support and courage for people who want to venture out in the unknown .
    Really enjoyed the comments by others too, though could not read all but have read almost 75-80 % comments.
    Balachandra has rightly pointed out , you need to follow your inner calling , no matter what the world says .

    Thanks to all who have contirbuted to the dialogue on this page actively, passively .
    all d bestest to u all.
    .he m@n +

    1. We are glad to see your appreciation towards the post and towards those who have shared their insightful comments with us. Looking forward to further interaction with you.

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