Of Choices, Chances and Changes

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Upoma Dutta's picture

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin/Leon C. Megginson

Last year, around summer, I made a decision that appeared to be both exciting and overwhelming at the same time: relocating to New York. Prior to the relocation, I was based out of Dhaka, Bangladesh (which had been my home for as long as I could remember). I was working as a Consultant at the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) in its Finance & Markets Global Practice, where I was helping to design and implement different policy and strategic advisory engagements with financial institutions and governments in South Asia.

Even though I loved the nature of my role at IFC and the opportunity to make meaningful contribution towards the development of emerging financial markets, I knew that the relocation would unlock a host of new experiences, broaden my horizon and still provide me with an opportunity to build upon on the skills and competencies that I had developed in my career so far. Yet I understood that the relocation would not be completely easy, as any person who has recently gone through this experience would agree.

The experience of leaving a stable job and your network and navigating the maze of a completely unknown job market can often appear to be a daunting experience. However, with 20/20 hindsight, I can say that the same fish-out-of-water experience is unmatched in terms of its ability to develop an ability to cope with change. It might sound clichéd, but dealing with change and constantly learning and unlearning is one of the most rudimentary capabilities required in today's workplace, especially among young professionals.  And why is that? Because most industries today are innovating and evolving at breakneck speed, and any young professional who cannot keep up with the momentum will fall behind.

The U.S. media & entertainment industry is a perfect example. Now, in my current role as an Analyst in Finance Strategy & Planning (Business Development Analysis) team at HBO (Time Warner), I feel that change is the most defining hallmark of the industry. Industry veterans might reiterate that content is the king, but innovation is not limited to this aspect only - it is prevalent throughout the value chain (especially, distribution).

Take, for instance, the degree of competition in the industry. Any person who has been in the industry long enough would attest to the fact that competition has intensified over the years, and this is particularly manifest in the distribution side of the business. In an effort to expand reach, both new players and incumbent ones are introducing different business models (for example, over-the-top/subscription video-on-demand services in addition to the traditional linear/TV cable channels). The aim is to get a bigger share of American eyeballs; however, doing so has become increasingly challenging because media companies are not just competing with one another - they are also competing with Pokémon Go or any mainstream technology that is commanding a share of people's attention.

Media companies have not been too ham-fisted to embrace technology, rendering the latter to be less disruptive. Yet the encounter between the media & entertainment industry and the technology industry has been an interesting one till date. On one hand, you find that media companies are leveraging technology to reach out to "cord-nevers" (i.e., people who never had a cable connection, especially the millennials) through new over-the-top offerings. On the other hand, tech giants (such as Facebook and Google) are pursuing deeper push into video to strengthen their core business (i.e., ad sales).  Do all these serve as a harbinger that show the industry dynamics will significantly change in the future? Only time will tell, but young professionals looking to build a career in this industry should have a positive attitude towards such change and the uncertainty that such change may accompany.

Lastly, while every industry is different, I came across two lessons during my pre-relocation period that are particularly helpful for any young professional  who are looking to relocate or transition from one industry to another.

Lesson 1: You need to really understand yourself and your interests before you decide to move to a different industry.

It's akin to doing a SWOT analysis on one self. Doing so will not only ensure that you capitalize on your strengths when you choose a particular role, it will also help you to appear more confident during job interviews. For instance, if you don't have any interest in films/TV or the current consumer technology trends, then a career in the media and entertainment industry might not be a "great" fit.

Lesson 2: it's very important to build a network within the industry that you wish to join - even if you have to reach out to complete strangers.

This may not help you to get the job but this will definitely make the process seem less puzzling. Hiring processes and their timelines differ across industries. For instance, management consulting jobs as well as strategy roles in Fortune 500 companies include case exercises during interviews, and your trusted network can provide with helpful advice regarding how to face such interviews.

Project Firefly folks - feel free to leave a message below if you want to share your own experience with relocation or have any question regarding the industry or my journey so far.


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