UBC Day 19 : Lessons from a New Career

It was the year 1997,  like any other person, I came to Mumbai with dreams in my eyes. No, I was not there to pursue any celluloid dreams but in pursuit of a dream career. Having worked for 2 years in the Sales function of a leading Pharmaceutical company of the country, I realized that that my career path should move towards Brand Management. When I was transferred to the Brand Management Team at Head Office, it was truly a dream come true.

After induction et al, I was given some brands to handle. I was ecstatic. Before, I could do the real brand management work, I was given folders and files, books and manuals to read all about my brand. A very logical and a fair thing to do.

A week or 2 later, it was time to start doing the real brand management thing ie designing strategies, creating promotional material, working with artists, agencies and printers, gift suppliers etc. I was to work with another brand manager initially for a month or so to learn the ropes of the brand management business. A curious and eager to learn me, would ask her the questions and she would either dodge them completely or give only a part of the information or would do the task assigned to me, herself. The technical jargon she used to explain, stumped me.

Those were the days when computers were just entering the corporate sector and internet in office was in its nascent stages (I remember, we had a dial-up connection for internet and it was available on only one computer in our department). So, taking the help of Google the God was out of question.

Being a newcomer in the team, it was a trying time. In weekly meetings with the seniors, I was totally ignored and if somebody had any question, they would be answered on my behalf, by my temporary ‘manager’.

After sulking and crying for weeks, a realization dawned. Here I was with a job about which I was dreaming since the day I joined the company and now when I had my dream job, I was lost and dejected.  I realized that it was time to take control over things. It was time to learn… time to learn the basics of the job…. time to learn all by yourself. And learn, I did… How… you may ask…

  • Learnt from the experts: I met the artists/agencies, printers we worked with, at their work places and learnt how they designed, what were the various stages in their line of work, the technical terms and their meanings, the specifications, briefs that they need to work on…
  • Acquired new skills : While others gave their work for typing to the secretarial pool, I learnt to operate computer on my own during the lunch break. And very soon, I was on my own.
  • Took initiatives : Whatever new projects were rolled out, I made sure that I was a part of them. I had my fingers in every possible pie.
  • Met the customers : There’s nothing like learning a thing or two from the customer. The doctors were our customers. Learning about newer techniques or current trends in surgery or their preferred treatment options or even understanding about a disease, nobody could explain it better than a practicing doctor. And this knowledge helped in designing better promotional strategies.

It was a great learning experience and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Soon enough, my work spoke for me. My enthusiasm to learn and taking initiatives was recognized and it helped me to grow and progress at a faster pace.

My lessons from this experience:

  • A blocked path also offers guidance.
  • There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream, but every step is worth it.
  • If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  You’re on to something big.  Because hard work isn’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
  • Guide the next generation and forgive the last.

I am sharing what ‘I Saw and I Learnt‘ at BlogAdda.com in association with DoRight.in.

Today’s post is also in response to the Writer’s Post Thursday Blog Hop #86

which is hosted by Suzy Que of Reflections of My Soul.

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56 thoughts on “UBC Day 19 : Lessons from a New Career

    • Thank you Vinita! True, life has ways of testing us. The urge to quit during these times is the highest but not quitting and working hard to remove the obstacles is the key! 🙂

  1. When a child is born the parents teach the child, in school the teachers take care of, but when thrown into the whirlpool of real tough life there are no teachers to guide or user manual. One has to learn by observing, taking decisions which may be right or wrong and thus proceed. No doubt life teaches a lot.

    • Well said Kalpana. The support and nurturing that we get as a child is taken away as we grow up and then it is fighting your own battles and learning from them. And that is a great learning experience!

  2. Wow, good one Shilpa! I didn’t know, you wer also into Branding. I started my career from Advertising. I was extremely drawn to advertising, I was the only one taken from my college to FCB ulka. It is still one of the high points of my life irrespective of the fact that I later felt I did not enjoy it that much.
    Yes, the people who you work with make a lot of difference, and your own attitude. You chanelised it so well.

    • Wow, you worked with FCB Ulka! Superb! My last assignment was as Group Brand Manager and that was in 2004. In Pharma, our agencies were different. It was fun working with them…

  3. The only way to learn and move forward is to take the bull by the horns. What an inspirational post. Loved it Shilpa. And thanks so much for writing on my prompt and linking up.

  4. Shilpa.it is so familiar.Iwas moved from manufacturing to branding and finally to marketing.
    Learning from the experienced and knowledgable is a treat.I still consider my that time senior as my guru.
    If someone was to asked me,brand building is the most challenging job one can ask for.Also,those who fall,really fall with a thud.
    Very nice post.Very nice.

  5. In a job, I feel that people pickup after a few months. The initial months are very blank for sure! It’s good to know that you have been through this cycle – It’s an important learning cycle and I am sure it will help you grasp many things easier in life.

    Destination Infinity

    • True, everybody picks up things after some time, but the times when you are all lost and hopeless, it can drain you emotionally. Yes, this initial struggle and its learnings paves the way for future path.

  6. Reema, I was in advertising till a year back as a strategy Planner, till I got slipped discs and had to leave my lifestyle and timelines of advertising. And as a matter of fact, by a weird twist of fate, I have just joined a pharma company as an assist Brand manager and cant stop marveling the game plan you set for yourself Shilpa. I exactly get what you meant by being curious and hungry to learn,all charged up to take the brand places, develop a persona et al and then feel like you are hitting a dead end. THank you so much for this post!!!!U have no idea..the myriad expressions that I went through when I read this post.

    • Wow! You work as a BM in a pharma company! How cool! So glad to note that we share the same professional background! All the best to you girl, achieve great heights in your career 🙂

  7. Wow Shilpa You are really great. You are an achiever right from the beginning! You are a source of inspiration and motivation to several others like me. Loved reading about your success story. God Bless you.

    • Thanks Nandana. Guess, that’s part of the learning curve. Am sure you are applying the learnings of the past experiences now. Good luck to you 🙂

  8. You have demonstrated how a person can learn if she has the will!

    One who has the right teacher/guide/mentor can be an Arjuna; one who has no teacher/guide/mentor can be an Ekalavya! Of course, the modern Ekalavyas should retain their thumbs!!

    • Hi Proactive Indian. Loved your analogy. In the corporate jungle most of us are Eklavyas, learning to work around on our own. Very few are lucky to have mentors like Arjuna. 🙂

  9. that’s a very inspirational post. very true there are people like that supervisor who love to act as if they know best and no one should know better than them! not just on the job, everywhere we encounter people like these and the tips u’ve given are truly wonderful. I’m sharing it on my personal fb page…

    btw, did i ever tell u I started my career with the pharma industry too?

    • Thanks LP. Actually these are the people who are very insecure. They do ot believe in sharing their knowledge and information fearing that others would surpass them. And yes, such people are everywhere!
      Wow, that’s cool. 🙂

  10. Inspirational post… 🙂 But more than that, right now I’m making a wish, that I could jump ships right now! I have been wanting to, but reading your post is kinda pushing me to take that leap…

    By the way, love the new look of the blog 🙂 🙂

    • Well said Shelly. It is important to focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. 🙂 Thanks.

  11. Shilpa am I the only one who is noticing your new look for the blog? I went through the entire comments set and no one has mentioned. I thought perhaps I have come after sometime here but no I was here yesterday? If i am not going mad you have changed the design na? Its looking very nice! and as for the post well well the story that goes is that Shilpa turned out to be a pro in whatever she tried- work or blog 😀 😀

    • LOL 😀 Dont think so much, dear Richa!! The new look was live today afternoon. See, today’s post and everybody has given feedback about the new look.:D
      Thanks for kind words, am beaming 🙂

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