This post had been lying in my drafts since over an year and I finally decided to get it out:
There have been so many occasions when I have been questioned, again and again, as to why did I make the strangest move at the beginning of my career, i.e. join an investment bank as a financial analyst after doing engineering, but then I went one step ahead and left that high paying ‘corporate’ job and joined my family business!
In February of 2012, I decided to leave my 60kpm job (Yes, I earned a lot as an engineer) and join my family business. The decision came as shocking to my parents, relatives, colleagues, friends, bosses, Ex-es and innumerable aunties but I had put in a lot of thought process to it. And I took a huge pay-cut as well (Don’t ask about it!). Those fancy credit cards didn’t see light for the next six months.
I have always been a workaholic from my college days and a stressful environment always brings out the best in me. When I joined JP Morgan, my second day in office ended at 2.00am! I never expected that the engineer in me could be pushed to such an extent but I actually enjoyed it. Work has always been a priority in my life and I couldn’t ask for anything more. My work kept on increasing steadily and my work timings went on bordering towards extreme (I have even played Table tennis at 4am there). I saw it as a big party but every party comes to an end!
I wanted to try out something more challenging, something that would force me think beyond what was required, someplace where my contribution would make a bigger impact. I finally took the plunge into my family business. I had to cajole my sister and mom to get their support and beg my father to take me in his firm. It is a small firm dealing in metal products manufacturing and trading. This was the time when I actually experienced the dirty, gritty side of the city I have lived in.
I did find the start a bit difficult. The travel and heat got the better of me. I missed my comfortable and plush office at JP Morgan, cafeteria filled with hundreds of snack options, my coffee machine that crushed coffee beans in front of my eyes! However, now I enjoyed the road side sandwich, the local train commute and freshly crushed sugar cane juice at every corner in town.
Business in Mumbai is defined as “cut-throat competition” and if you don’t pay attention to your client for a second, you might just lose out on a big deal. You have few seconds to impress the client with a positive deal and if you don’t, he moves on to the next supplier. It is as intense as on the trading floor of an Investment bank. And sometimes you also have to judge whether the client is worth the time. You might make a few bucks to a few thousands in profits with every client so it was important to understand how big the fish is!
I enjoyed my stint there and the friction that I felt on a day to day basis working with my father. My dad has been handling the business and surviving in these competitive markets since more than 25 years and I came in to make some changes in the system, some were accepted and some were not. We had some real fights and some real good moments discussing the future of the business.
However, I had to leave my firm after around 6 months for certain reasons. I learnt some life long lessons at my family business. As a lesson, I realized that I failed to understand the functioning of the domestic markets and took things too quickly for the firm’s own good. I wanted to do too many things in a very short while. The evolution of a traditional family business into a professionally managed corporation is still a slow and difficult process in India.
But the most important lesson I learnt was to never get into a fight with my dad ever! 🙂