Over our years in school and college, how many of us have been taught that the assured path to success is to select a subject and master it through degrees, a steady career and long years of experience?
Isn’t it possible that children even today are being inadvertently guided into their careers with this approach – by parents, teachers, counselors and well wishers? This philosophy continues to keep us secure and remain in our chosen careers as adults.
Nirmala Sitharaman is presently India’s Minister of Finance, a critical and closely-followed role plus the Minister of Corporate Affairs, in a dual role.
From 2017 to May 2019, she was India’s first female Defence Minister, a role she served well and made the country proud of.
Nirmala had become the Indian Commerce Minister after her masters degree. She relocated to London after marriage and thrived in the corporate world before making her way back to India in 1991.
While in the UK, Nirmala worked as a salesperson at Habitat, a home décor store. She also served as an Assistant to Economist in the Agricultural Engineers Association; Senior Manager R&D for Price Waterhouse and briefly at the BBC World Service.
Her climb up the political ladder included critical positions such as National spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and member of the Rajya Sabha, upper house of the Indian Parliament, since 2016.
Her meteoric rise in the currently ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) speaks volumes about her ability to take risk and her resilience to foray into challenging alternate areas that may or may not be her core strengths. A visible outcome of her agility is the top brass’s confidence that Nirmala will make any challenge an experience of learning and adaptability and hence, success!
What do you think?
Finance being largely male-dominated, will Nirmala making the financial plans for one of the world’s oldest democracies work?
Does Nirmala fit into the ‘Jack of all trades’ category as a winner?
Should one stay in a role for as long as it takes, to master it or explore the new and untested and become a master of many trades?
Reading about Nirmala’s vast experience and success in different fields and roles, I don’t feel embarrassed now about having a ‘jack of all trades’ certificate when I started my corporate career. Looking back, I feel grateful for all those experiences as having added diversity and depth to my work in Business entrepreneurship, HR, Administration and Corporate Communication.
Another shining story is that of thirty six year old Anuradha Rao who arrived in Bangalore from the USA in 2014 and was disappointed that she could not find any eco-friendly diapers for her new born. Every single-use diaper compelled her to worry about its impact on the environment. After months of research and no background in the garment business, she set out to bring the perfect eco-friendly diaper to India.
She quit her job at IBM and started making cloth diapers, launching Bumpadum in July 2017, a firm that designs and sells chemical-free, breathable, washable and reusable cloth diapers for children. Is Anuradha a quitter or a winner? A jack of trades or a master?
There are certain professions and skill crafts like music, painting, pottery, carpentry, medicine, law and engineering that require knowledge, skill and consistent practice over time, for mastery. However there are hundreds of other skills and topics that overlap, and learning about one does not limit you to that subject. Instead, it opens up parallel and interconnected vistas of learning such as human resources, training, administration, consulting and advisory, wellness, communication, social media and general management, to name a few.
I urge you to overcome fear of failure and go ahead and explore your calling or passion in alternate careers to see how rich and satisfying your life and work experience can become.
To know more about our membership that welcomes women who want an alternate career or are returning from a sabbatical, please visit The Women Financial Advisers Network website https://www.wfan.in/membership
We also are happy to Launch our WFAN community on the Sheroes Platform. Please click the link below to join us a for engaging conversations on your life and money! https://shrs.me/OE6SW7tnkX