is a fact that the economic cycle is going to swing the other
way. For individual professionals, this is the best time to
ponder over the fundamentals of change management and get
prepared for the changes in the horizon
in the US economy is rearing its ugly head in a number of
visible ways one of the first cost-cutting measures to be
adopted in times of a downturn is layoff. However, every cloud
has a silver lining, for professionals, this may be the best
time to take stock and re-visit one’s professional and personal
goals and ponder over the fundamentals of change management
prepare for the changes in the horizon.
they say, is the only constant and as Indian professionals
become more global, changes outside their area of specialisation,
organisation, and society are likely to have a greater impact
on the personal and professional lives. When Indian professionals
pack their bags and fly down to the US, we are taking a big
leap of faith. We are participating in an extensive change
management process, whether we realise it or not. Change of
place, work, culture and society, have a profound impact on
the way we view the world. Travel broadens one’s horizons,
more so if one travels to distant lands to live and work there.
moving to a different country, we are willing to accept the
way business is done there; even if this includes embracing
the uncertainty that comes with it. Even in the West, where
hiring and firing is the norm, people are not really prepared
for changes that layoffs cause in their lives. The thought
of losing one’s co-workers, steady pay cheques and other benefits
overnight, is enough to put the fear of god in anyone’s mind.
although not the norm are increasingly becoming common, even
in India. However, I feel that for professional, with the
right kind of experience and technical skills, a layoff is
not the worst that can happen. Of course, when it does happen,
it can be hard on Indians working abroad.
is exacerbated by the fact that there is an amount of investment
that Indians abroad have to make - to buy furniture, car,
and the other miscellaneous paraphernalia, and one cannot
walk away from this investment overnight. Circumstances such
as being laid off when one is abroad put the mind into sharp
focus. It can broaden one’s horizons and help in redefining
goals and motivated one to look for greener pastures. As a
professional, living and working abroad, it is your responsibility
to be your own career coach and mentor and device your own
strategy for career management. Some of the points I have
borrowed from a number of sources include:
Ask yourself, if you were to lose your job today,
will you be able to get a job immediately? Scan job sites
and advertisements and keep an eye on the kind of jobs being
advertised the most.
Experts recommend taking stock of your skill-set
every six months or after every project. Do you have skills
that are currently marketable?
Are you being technically and professionally
challenged in your current job; if not, what is keeping you
Ask yourself if you are happy doing what you
do. If not, look out for something that will make you happy.
Learn to see the forest from the trees. Look
at the big picture and see if your career moves are taking
you there. If you have not done so already, chalk out a five
or ten year roadmap of where you want to be.
Are you constantly looking out for new jobs?
If you are, you probably hadn’t planned your earlier moves
to coincide with your big goals. Revisit your goals and look
for something that is going to be rewarding.
Financial planning: Most experts suggest that
one should have about three to six months salary nested away
for a rainy day.
Expect the unexpected and be prepared. It is
becoming increasingly clear that in the new economy, people
are becoming more dispensable than ever. If you think you
are invincible in your job, think again and be prepared.
corporations in the US have corporate teams, consultants and
executives working full time, analyzing and scanning for changes happening in the business environment
around them. They are constantly peering at their radar screens
and looking for “strategic inflection points” (as Andy Grove,
Chairman of Intel would like to call it). As an individual,
you probably do not have the luxury of a team of advisors,
but what you do have is the skills and knowledge built over
a period of time. You may also have your peers and a network
of associates who will be more than glad to gaze at the radar
screen with you. Learn to be on a constant look out for changes
happening in the world around you, especially for the changes
that may affect you. As the popular adage goes, Change - embrace
it or get run over by it.
Preparing for the next wave
US economy is slowing down and hardly anyone is immune to
the effects of recession. I am no economist and will not pretend
to be one. However, the facts are out there for all to see,
courtesy the Web. The official White House homepage on the
web (http://www.whitehouse.gov) lists some of
the key economic indicators including Housing, Unemployment
rate, productivity, consumer confidence etc.
The government and Federal Reserve Bank are (as expected)
taking a cautious approach studying every minute fact and
figure, lowering interest in a gradual manner. However, one
thing is certain, the economy and job-market is not as strong
as it was even a few months ago.
based IT companies, which were clamoring for foreign workers
(H1 holders) even a year ago have realized the effects of
the slowdown. It is ironic that the same technology giants
Cisco, Intel, Nortel, Motorola, Compaq who were market leaders
until a year ago are also leading the pack, this time in the
excruciating task of laying off their employees. Each of them
has recently announced a cut of over 6,000 personnel.
in Colorado, I tend to receive emails from friends and associates
from all over the world. Nothing new there except that during
the past year, most of the mails I received have a common
thread - the state of the US economy. Some of the most common
questions include “What do you think of the economy?” or “Should
Indians be thinking of moving out of US?” or “Should I decline
the offer to move to the US?”
is hard to give a definitive answer to any of these questions,
especially if one is sitting right in the eye of the storm.
Corporate America can be really brutal and during times of
slowdown, “Here today, gone tomorrow”, as many of us are learning,
literally means what the expression implies. However, there
are two sides to the coin. A slowdown in the US can translate
to opportunity for Indians:
Indian IT and the global opportunities afforded
by large IT houses are here to stay.
If anything, prudent IT houses are using this
opportunity to recruit good talent and are working on their
game-plan to stay ahead of the curve.
Countries and companies are still vying for
talented professionals and the trend, as far as one can see,
is only going to continue.
economic strength is based on the globalization of its businesses
and commercial enterprises, and it is hard to envisage the
nation isolating itself from the global marketplace. Even
though Americans are still reeling under the aftermath of
the attack, and the economy in recession, people, government
and the corporate world is
rallying around to help rebuild the nation. America
is a melting pot of ethnicities and this incident, although
it has shaken us all, will go down as a small blimp that tested
the resilience and tolerance of its people. What makes America
great is the tremendous amount of economic and business activity
taking place here. In order to man and manage and operate
the affairs of business, including technologies that keep
businesses humming, America is going to need talented people,
even if it means getting talented foreigners.
economist will tell you that an “economic cycle” is basically
a predictable long-term pattern of alternating periods of
economic growth (recovery) and decline (recession). An economic
cycle is a fact of life in the corporate world and this is
probably a lesson for many an Indian professional who only
saw the growth side of the curve. If anything, it is a lesson
in the basics of business that every professional need to
be aware of. No one is immune to the swings in the economy.
Just as a “growing economy” can propel one by providing opportunities,
a “slowing economy” can provide one with an opportunity to
look at the big picture and plan for the long haul and prepare
oneself for the next wave.
bottom line is that companies in the US are still buoyant
about the future. The question they are asking is “when” the
economy will turn towards the growth side of the cycle and
not “if”. When the economy turns around soon, we Indian professionals
are going to be there. Until then, sit-back, relax and enjoy
Babu: All Rights Reserved 2002
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