If I were a professional athlete, it would have been 10 years since I turned pro. (I just like to pick analogies and lessons from sports to business and life). I would have completed two rounds of 10,000 hours and more (10,000 hours is the time required to gain mastery in a skill as defined by some experts, a discussion on this can go onto a different post). Like in most cases, its good to take time out to reflect on the past and pick up the lessons from them and move forward.
The three attributes that generally defines any professional’s career (or life in general) has had a say in my professional career so far too.
The first was luck and I did get it at the right time (of course I can validate it only when I look back in life). Of all the roles I could have got in Bangalore in 2011, hearing about a big global player in Renewable Energy (RE) recruiting for freshers was the least expected. Giving the interviews a try and then deciding to pursue it over the other opportunities I had in hand was risky at that point when solar power was all about water heaters on Bangalore city rooftops (That is exactly what people asked me if I was doing when I mentioned I work for a solar company back then). But, looking back, it turned out to be that I was at the right place at the right time to pick such a role. I had my share bit of luck in getting started in the clean-tech space in 2011 and I’m continuing to ride the luck into the second decade of professional journey. (More about building a career in clean-tech on the Mission Shunya podcast featuring Rajesh Bhat who gave me my first role)
Work – ‘Get your hands dirty’
‘Get your hands dirty early on,’ was the best mantra I could get when I got started . It was literally getting my hands dirty at solar power project sites in remote locations in the early days. A sharp contrast to the cozy work atmosphere I would have got had I preferred the other roles after graduation(Shared my experience from on-ground project execution times while recollecting my 5 year journey). Once I got into the zone, thanks to the opportunities in the company, I worked on multiple projects, cross cutting teams and eventually getting into a techno-commercial role. In startups and emerging businesses it takes a bit of proactive approach to get more of the right kind of work, work that interests you. I had to do this by getting outside my comfort zone and reaching out to people both within and outside the company. An interesting trend that started emerging in the last decade was the shift in the general focus of the governments and the overall business environment in the sector. The company that I worked in the beginning had the vision of getting to 100% Renewable Energy (RE) but most of the companies in the sector looked at government policies as the north star. In the case in India it changed from having a target of 20GW of solar by 2022 to 175GW of RE by 2022. The narrative then moved to having all electric mobility by 2030, 450GW of RE by 2030 and so on. But, towards the end of the last decade it became evident that the global target was about reaching net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century. As a professional in this space it dint take long for me to see the shifting paradigm, the coming together of two industrial revolutions of our times in energy and transportation and so I began aligning my work in that direction towards the end of the decade.
The third attribute is about the support I received in this journey. Right from day 1 till now (and counting) I have been grateful to receive the kind of support I have got throughout. Right from the first manager to the business heads and CEOs with whom I have worked, everyone supported me completely. The moves I made in this journey wouldn’t have been possible without their support. The support system only grew over the years with new colleagues from the industry joining the network. Of course the support system of family, friends and well-wishers continued to be there throughout and most importantly, you can tap into this support system even if you pursue passion projects over the weekends, like in my case, the blog (that you are currently reading) and the podcast platform(Mission Shunya), it wouldn’t have been possible without the support and feedback from industry peers and the professional community. I’m also equally grateful that I have been able to support people who reach out to me over the years. With the recent addition of a new member to the support system in the form of wife,I can only be excited to do more in the future.
Having taken a look back at the journey so far, I have picked three action items to focus and work on in the next decade.
Build and leverage the power of networks
I’m guilty to have put in a below par performance on this front. Considering the opportunities I got to meet and know a wide range of people through work, I have under-utilized the network. Adding to that I’m also fortunate enough to be a part of acclaimed alumni networks of college, university, scholarship and even among the ET young leaders community. As I have written down as an action item post reading atomic habits (Making atomic habits stick for professionals), I look forward to act on this front earnestly in the next decade.
Diversity in network
As professionals, we tend to align ourselves with our community of like minded people in the sector. I had the chance to experience the power of diversity during my masters and I have felt a profound difference in my thinking post that experience. Again, an aspect I have worked less on in the ensuing years, but I look forward to network, connect and contribute to people who are not directly in my professional zone. You will be completely wrong if you thought ‘we can’t do much in a space we know little about’. There are a lot of avenues to add value within a diverse community.
It is quite clear that the sustainable transformation of cities, communities and countries is the next big thing. Over the years, by being a bit lucky, working around opportunities and with the right support at the right moment, I have positioned myself to work around this idea. The time for global acceptance of this idea has arrived. Well, I don’t have a ground breaking product or a unique value proposition to offer at this point but I will continue to explore any thoughts and ideas that fit the theme of ‘People, Planet and Positive Impact‘. Until then, I will continue to work like a cog in a machine and contribute to the overall picture of getting to the net zero carbon economy by the middle of this century or earlier.
(If you liked this, you might like my other articles published on similar themes here.)
(Feature image – Bill Oxford, Unsplash)