Young professionals need to decide how to spend the early years of their careers so that they can achieve their dream role as soon as possible. Going out of the structured curriculum of a university and into the real world may seem daunting as there are many different jobs to apply to, all while securing any job, let alone the desired job is challenging. And after this hurdle is overcome, many budding professionals see themselves either progressing too slowly or stuck in an undesirable role.
To gain perspective in this matter, Amitabh Guha Roy, general manager, Finance Business Partnering and Pricing at bKash Limited, was interviewed. He started his career in 2015 in Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) and after a stellar stint there he moved to bKash, where he made finance business partnering an integral function in the company and progressed to deputy general manager before he assumed his present role in 2020.
Amitabh has displayed an exceptional pace in his career progression and his insights can be valuable to young professionals.
Knowing what you want to do
This may not be possible to determine for a lot of graduates, however, self-awareness about one's abilities is always a great asset. The tenure of undergraduate courses coupled with extracurriculars and part-time jobs can give job applicants an idea of what they want or aspire to do. Upon asking, insists that he was always very clear about what he wanted to do since he was a first-year university student. "I knew I wanted to work in the financial market," he mentioned. Although upon graduation, he received offers from organisations operating in FMCG, banking and telecom, he opted for Standard Chartered Bank as it allowed him to work with well-designed financial products of the world. "It was never about the compensation they offered, it was always about choosing the role I always wanted to work in." From there he moved to the mobile financial service company, bKash in January 2017 whereupon the company's requirement he assumed the then unorthodox role of a finance business partner. This allowed him to support business decisions with his expertise in finance. Over the course of three years, the scope of this role transformed from only an individual reporting to a senior manager into an entire department directly reporting to the top management. Doing what he felt deeply passionate for enabled Amitabh to progress within the organisation. A lot of young professionals may lack the job opportunities to have the luxury of choice but having a vision and perseverance will help open doors even in their current organisations. Taking varieties of roles and responsibilities by simply expressing intention to one's supervisor can also be a way to find one's knack.
How to approach work
Most recent graduates are willing to put in a lot of unnecessary office hours to pursue quick career progression. However, more hours do not necessarily equate to more impact in the workplace. According to Amitabh, doing tasks with exceptional quality trumps taking on several tasks that barely reach quality standards. He mentions, "A wholeheartedly satisfied customer is your target. Customers can be anyone -- from the buyers of your product to your supervisor, your colleague, or your subordinates.” Amitabh stresses the importance of carefully choosing tasks in the workplace according to one's capabilities and current workload. "You should always concentrate on delivering beyond expectations, rather than saying 'yes' to everything even if you are unable to." He adds, "Career growth or promotions are only a dividend of exceptional work. People will always respect you for the work you can deliver, not the position you currently hold." Therefore, picking the appropriate type and number of deliverables has a significant impact on how one will successfully progress in their job.
Learning the most fromexperienced colleagues
There is a saying that 70 per cent of learning occurs on the job, 20 per cent from workplace gurus, and 10 per cent from classrooms. According to this, there is a lot to learn from supervisors, seniors and experienced colleagues. Amitabh mentions, "The two most important factors when choosing a job are the kind of work that it entails and the supervisor you have to work under. Your supervisor defines what you are going to be in the coming years." The learning opportunities from a line manager are very important for self-development and progression. Amitabh states that he was fortunate to have supervisors from whom he could learn and who never limited his input to the organisation because of his young age. He mentions his first line manager, the then head of products of SCB, as someone he learnt a lot from during his initial years at SCB. He feels indebted to his current supervisor in bKash for his growth.
Amitabh adds that it is his current supervisor who introduced him to finance business partnering role and guided him when there was hardly a benchmark for the role in Bangladesh. Hence, one should carefully evaluate if they are given learning and implementing opportunities by their line managers. Taking advantage of the company's collective learning that it has gathered over the time is also important. Instead of layered communication based on hierarchy, bKash features an open communication environment up to even the CXO, a practice that Amitabh adds has helped him to raise his concerns or learn from everyone. Therefore, one should be humble and focus on trying his best to learn from whomever they can access.
These work philosophies have enabled Amitabh Guha Roy to progress through his career at a very impressive pace. And while career progression is important, and the faster the better, it is not everything there is to life. Amitabh mentions that the pace of promotions is immaterial in the long run. He shares, "A career is a marathon, not a sprint. It would not matter in the long run if I became general manager two years later. The important thing is to be focused on the end destination and enjoy the journey." Therefore, it is important that young professionals find a goal based on their abilities, work smart and produce exceptional deliverables, learn as much as possible from seniors and enjoy their careers while being focused on their goal of self-actualisation.
The writer is a third-year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at email@example.com
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