Brave new world

I remember the time when I used to be totally unaware of how money works. I used to tell myself and my friends that I had absolutely no clue what finance was all about. I had no clue how companies functioned. Not long ago, I was oblivious to everything that had the words ‘share’ and/or ‘stock’.  Funny how times change. I decided to write this post just to outline my transition from how I had convinced myself that I wanted to be a programmer to how I have zeroed down on MBA Finance as my career choice. Talk about paradigm shifting decisions.

One of my college lecturers asked us in class the other day that why we chose Engineering? I realised then that until I heard him utter those words, I had convinced myself not to go down that road because I was sure that I will find some disappointing answers. I couldn’t help but think about it. This was not just the decision of taking Computer Science or taking Engineering. The story starts when I had just completed 10th and was about to move to Mysore for my Pre University education. A decision ridiculed by all of my Mysore friends and a decision which I don’t regret for one second no matter what were the difficulties I had to face.

Two of my cousins had studied at Sadvidya PU College and had went on to join Engineering colleges thereby establishing precedence. Maybe if they had decided to pursue Law or Arts things might have been different for me I cannot say for sure. But that’s the way it had happened and for better or worse, they both had taken Electronics as their optional and so did I. Without giving an ounce of thought what I was getting into. I knew, however, that I was not interested in Biology. I did not consider Computer Science at that time at all as I had a very strong notion that anything related to computers was too complicated for me. By taking Electronics, I didn’t just choose a subject, I chose what proved to be my career. Well, at least till now.

Studying in Sadvidya was a superposition of fun and stress at the same time. Fun mainly because of the company I had along with my own co-curricular activities. Stress because, you know, CET. My friends had ended up taking Electronics no differently than I had. We opted for Electronics because our cousins/brothers/sisters/random stranger who lived in the next block did so too. We were lucky enough to study under one of the best Electronics teachers in all of Mysore. The woman was a saint. I have nothing but absolute respect for her. I still remember the day I had told Dixit that I wanted to take up Engineering in Mechanical and I remember how he had burst out laughing. Again, Mechanical was something which I had arrived at without giving a moments thought. Hell, I didn’t even have a plan of what I would do after taking Mechanical. There were instances where my relatives would come to me and ask me not to take Computer Science as it will be outdated in some time and jobs were decreasing. (These were the same people who would come to me years later asking whether one of my girl – friend who had come to a ceremony was open to marriage proposals or not) I, obviously, didn’t give heed to all such suggestions. I didn’t have a plan but I was sure as hell not stupid.

Things started to get serious when we had given our CET and we were awaiting the results. Funny thing is that when you study in Sadvidya PU, you automatically tend to drift towards Engineering. You would do just as good by taking BSc, or BA or any other 100 options out there, but no. Somehow, giving in to the peer pressure and all the false job promises, you incline towards getting into an Engineering college. Same happened to me. I was told that Engineering acts as a basic degree and after that, I could do whatever I damn well pleased. So I sat down and started thinking about which branch to choose.

After an hour-long conversation with Dixit, I came to the conclusion that if I have to earn good money, attain ‘that’ level of respect in the society and please the alien overlords, I have to choose any one of the circuit based branches ( CS, EE, EC, IS…). I picked what looked like the brightest of the lot and applied for CS in DSATM – what I could get best for my CET ranking. After getting into my college, the first year was a total blur as the whole year passed while I was trying to get a grasp of what the hell was happening around me. Forget about career plan, I didn’t even have time to go for a walk on some days. By the time I was in 3rd semester, I had somehow convinced myself that I wanted to be a programmer. To be honest, I couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag. I just didn’t realise it then. This was something I chose just by looking at my surroundings where I found people who had convinced themselves the same as I did to myself or who had no clue what they were doing in life. I chose to follow the former herd. Only when my technical skills were put to test in real time, that is, when I had to program for my own website, I realised what I had done. I had convinced myself to pursue something I couldn’t even comprehend. So does that mean I was not doing good in my subjects? Hell no and that is when I realised the difference between my syllabus and work.

One fine day, during the beginning of the 5th semester, Sujay and I were speaking about our career choices and that is when I realised I did not see myself getting into a technical job in 5 years. And that is when I decided to change my career stream. This, however, was not that simple given that I had already made plans to pursue my higher education abroad in technical disciplines. Nevertheless, fortunately for me, I still had time to change to business studies and management. That was the decisive moment where I decided to change my career plan altogether. This was a move which would make me end up at the near top of any organisational hierarchy.

The decision to pursue MBA was not impulsive. As absurd as it may sound, I was inspired by the corporate finance shown in ‘Suits’. As I said, I may not have a plan but I am not stupid. I would never base my entire career and potentially my life on something which I took from a television series. What I saw, made me think and I started evaluating the pros and cons of pursuing business/finance studies. The former outweighed the latter. I got to reading books and started reading more and more on finance from the very basics of it.  Finance introduced me to a whole new environment which directly or indirectly controls the world and all the corporations in it. I realised that I would do better with the knowledge of finance and management if I ever start up again. And when I do, I will have the business acumen to make sure I succeed in keeping my venture afloat. The very financial terms which I had no clue about, fascinates me now. I have long and hard discussions about how the interest rates affect the stock markets and why foreign investments are better yielding than domestic investments all of which a few years ago would scare the living daylights out of me.

In retrospect, I do not regret any of it. If I had a chance to go back and do it all over, I would do the same over and over again. Being a staunch believer of the chaos theory and the butterfly effect, I am here, writing about my life choices only because of every decision I have ever made in my life.  The truth is, its ok if you do not have a plan. It is ok if the future frightens you. That’s how it should be. There’s only so much you can control. And when the time comes, do not be afraid to make that one change which is going to change your life forever. We only regret the chances we don’t take. Will the plan you have yield good results? There’s only one way to find out. Having said that, I am in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t sit and analyse before taking decisions. When you see an opportunity and it fits, go right ahead and take it. Build your world around you the way you want it. Stand by the decision you take.



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