How millennials revamp old family businesses

  • To take their existing family businesses to greater heights, the younger generation is trying out new ideas
  • Being in business with family as a second or third generation has its pros and cons

When Bengaluru-based Chaitanya V. Cotha, the scion of the 150-year-old C. Krishniah Chetty (CKC) Group of Jewellers, joined his family business in 2010, he identified an important market that his family hadn’t given much thought to. “For my father, business to business (B2B) wing of the business was never a focus area,” says the 31-year-old.

Owning it up, Cotha got on the road for 20 days a month, meeting potential small jewellers who could sell the CKC products. Within 18 months, the CKC Group started to supply their products to over 200 stores across four states with a team of just nine people.

A lot of change in family businesses stems from the aspirations, outlook and thinking of the next generation of family, according to Ganesh Raju K., partner and leader, entrepreneurial and private business, PwC India. “Young blood is crucial for a family business to keep abreast with changing times, dynamics, business environment, customer outlook, and digital changes,” he says, adding that it’s important to encourage this as family businesses account for nearly 85-90% of gross domestic production contribution in India. The PwC India Next Gen Study 2018 on family businesses, that interviewed more than 137 next generation leaders, 45 of them from India, found that even though more than 81 % of millennials have a clear idea on how to take the business forward and more than 89% of them challenge their seniors’ decisions when they feel it would benefit the business. A key component of success for the new generation is a culture that supports their efforts, gives them room to make mistakes and provides for independent decision making.

It’s all in the family

Family support and her father’s open mind was one of the major reasons Suzannah Muthoot, zonal strategic consultant with Muthoot Fincorp Ltd (MFL), was able to implement changes at the regional levels of her company.

Fresh out of college, when the 24-year-old joined her father’s company in 2017, she was told to travel extensively across small towns and villages where the company’s branches had set shop, to gain real on-ground experience. The travel was useful as she found inefficiencies at the zonal and regional levels across functions. “I came back with a proposal to redefine the role of a regional manager, who is responsible for profitability and performance of nearly 70 branches,” she explains.

Suzannah Muthoot
Suzannah Muthoot
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How to find a job on Instagram

  • Creative professionals are using Instagram’s visual storytelling to showcase their work and get a job
  • According to Statista, Instagram has 71 million monthly active users in India.
  • Be professional on Instagram
  • Rewrite that bio
  • Create a visual resume
  • Build your network
  • Send positive messages to brands

Always be on the lookout

It’s on Instagram that Achin Bhattacharya, CEO and founder of Notebook, an edtech startup based in Kolkata found Debangshu Moulik, a Pune-based graphic artist. Impressed by his credentials, his Instagram portfolio and the fact that he had 41,300 followers on the social media platform, Bhattacharya’s team hired him.

For 19-year-old Moulik, who is still in college, Instagram has been a good place to showcase his art. He joined the platform in July 2012 as a teenager and after six years on the network, has more than 40,000 followers. Recently, he showcased his graphic art, and as a result, has received few projects through the network.

“It is a norm for artists like me to use Instagram as an instant portfolio,” Moulik says, adding that for most visual creative professionals, the platform is a perfect place to put out “free advertisements” of their work. “Clients approach us based on both the quality of the work as well as our social media influence status. I am fortunate to live in a time when anyone has the tools to showcase their work,” he says.

Debangshu Moulik, a freelance graphic artist
Debangshu Moulik, a freelance graphic artist

Always be professional 

The first rule when you’re looking for a job through the social network is to post professionally only. That would mean no selfies or drunken party pictures. It’s best to separate the personal and professional accounts.

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Why some millennials are quitting Facebook

  • If the idea of quitting Facebook makes you anxious, irritable, or you miss out on work, it may be time to let go
  • Millennials are feeling overwhelmed by the way Facebook requires their attention and misuses personal information

In July, more than a decade after joining Facebook, Mumbai-based event manager Jason Menezes decided to delete his account. It was a big move for the 30-year-old because, like most people in his generation, he got on to the social network bandwagon in his teens and spent a chunk of his life there, broadcasting his first love, his first job, breakup and several parties to a multitude of friends.

Are you overwhelmed by Facebook?

Over the last couple of years, however, Menezes had been feeling overwhelmed by the way the network required his attention. He would log on multiple times a day, check notifications during most of his breaks, comment on most posts, engage with people, put down his thoughts at least twice a day.

He felt obsessed, almost like the platform had taken over his life. He wanted to quit, but, each time, a notification would take him back, and he would end up scrolling endlessly. “Time flows differently in the virtual world,” says Menezes, “as there are multiple things that happen simultaneously, a multitude of people saying things. You find interesting facts or information and before you know, your whole day is gone. I was addicted,” he says.

A study published in December in the Journal Of Behavioral Addictions established a parallel between symptoms of substance use and behavioural addictive disorders to symptoms of excessive use of the social network.

“The social network uses various behavioural techniques, like building up a need to validate through likes, fear of missing out, and making your status temporary—all this to create a need for you to return quickly to the network to keep engaging.”

Venkatesh Babu, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.

The result is that it’s hard to quit, and, when you try to, you face withdrawal symptoms and often relapse into scrolling despite your decision. “If the network makes you anxious, irritable, or you miss out on your work or spending time with family, take it as a warning,” says Dr Babu.

Find it hard to quit?

Apoorva Kulkarni is worried about personal information being misused.
Apoorva Kulkarni is worried about personal information being misused.
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How to negotiate a holiday with your boss

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to negotiate a holiday with your boss. And no, you don’t need to lie about a relative’s sickness, you just need to plan ahead.

  • Approach the boss with a solution
  • Find a replacement
  • Plan ahead
  • Be flexible

Approach the boss with a solution

What can you do to ensure that your work does not get impacted during your absence? If you approach your seniors with a solution, half the battle is already won.

Find a replacement

It can be a colleague or someone hired temporarily. Work should’t suffer in your absence.

Plan ahead

Don’t decided to go on a leave last minute as it would burden your colleagues. Plan it ahead so your manager also has time to figure out what to do in your absence.

Be flexible

Build your leave request around others who might be planning to take time off. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and reciprocated. 

Be honest

What you need to do is plan in advance and approach your boss honestly. “Clear communication helps your seniors plan the team capacity in advance, shows them that you have the company’s interest in mind and ensures that there is trust between you and your seniors,” says Rakhee Malik, head and director of human resources, AT Kearney India, a management consulting company.

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How to avoid a burnout in a job

Three professionals tell us how they beat the burnout and went back to managing their work life through personal time and professional help.

Symptoms of a burnout

About four years ago, in late 2014, Nida Sahar, a computer engineer based in Bengaluru, started to feel a lack of interest in her work. Every morning, she felt fatigued, didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work. At work, she would become anxious faced with the tasks she had to do and would head to the bathroom to cry.

“I felt like I was wasting my life on things that didn’t matter. I wanted to win awards, to excel at my work, but I felt too tired and felt like I wasn’t going to achieve much in life,” says the 32-year-old. Much as she tried, she couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong.

When the feeling didn’t go away for a month, Sahar consulted a psychologist and found that she was experiencing the classic symptoms of a burnout. “I was too emotionally attached to my work environment and was a workaholic. All my happiness was attached to achievements in my job,” she says, “so much so, that I had forgotten how to live.”

Burnout happens from chronic stress

Burnout is a syndrome that results from chronic stress at work and can happen to anyone. Sessions with her psychologist made Sahar realize that she couldn’t go on like this—she needed a break. She broached the subject with her senior manager and was surprised at the support. “He had gone through the same thing early in his career. Taking time off would help, he assured me,” she says.

Neelesh Hundekari de-stresses through regular breaks, classical music. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Neelesh Hundekari de-stresses through regular breaks, classical music. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

How to bust a burnout

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How to overcome challenges when a wife earns more than her husband

When Sandeep Mulay Kumar and his wife were investing in a property in Bengaluru, his mother found out that he was paying less than his spouse Pramitha Ramaprakash because he was earning less than her.

“My mother took me into a corner and told me quietly that the fact that I’m earning less than my wife shouldn’t go out of the family,” laughs the 38-year-old, while explaining how truly entrenched the patriarchal concept of men being the primary breadwinners is when it comes to Indian families.

Her salary is higher

The first time in 2011, when Ramaprakash got a higher salary, Kumar admits that it did bruise his ego a bit. “Pramitha had quit her job after our marriage and moved to the UK because of my career. Six months later, she finds a job, two hours away from my office, and she has been offered more money than I earn,” says Kumar.

Being from a family, where his father had been the decision-maker, for a few honest minutes, he did wonder what his family and friends would say. However, later he accepted that it was money they were collectively earning. The couple moved to be closer to Ramaprakash’s office. “It was easier for me to do this as we were living independently, in the UK, away from parental pressure,” says Kumar. “In India it would have been more difficult to move cities for my wife’s job.”

Breaking stereotypes

Marriage, and after that childcare, according to a survey by National Sample Survey of India for 2011-2012, is one of the most common reasons for women to drop out of jobs in India. In 2011, around 50% of unmarried women in the 15-60 age bracket were in the labour force, while the proportion for married women was a mere 20%. The trend is more prominent in rural than urban women, as couples with white-collar jobs can outsource housework, childcare and eldercare—mostly seen as a woman’s job after marriage.

Sharing household and childcare work is the only way that 34-year-old Tripti Abhijata could continue to work as a full-time manager in a company in Switzerland. As she joined office back after her son was born, Rajan Thambehalli, her 34-year-old husband, took care of the house and of their three-year-old, starting his own company for quizzing.

Before having a child, both Abhijata and Thambehalli, were pursuing their own careers—Thambehalli as a consultant travelling around in Europe and Abhijata in Switzerland. After a child, moving frequently wasn’t possible. “We decided that we would move to the location of the spouse who gets a stable job first. It happened to be me,” explains Abhijata. In 2013, Thambehalli quit his job as a consultant, started his career afresh, ending up in “mom meetings”, she says.

Bengaluru-based Sandeep Mulay Kumar and Pramitha Ramaprakash are also comfortable with the difference in their salaries.
Bengaluru-based Sandeep Mulay Kumar and Pramitha Ramaprakash are also comfortable with the difference in their salaries.
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Laid off from your job? It need not be a problem

Getting laid off is not the end of the world. Turn it into an opportunity.

In September 2016, Sangita Mukherjee was called by her manager into his office and told that due to restructuring of the company, certain positions had become redundant and she was told to resign from her job the same day.

“I had been in the company for 10 years in the administration department and had been performing well,” says the 42-year-old, “When I was told that I was being laid off, I was devastated.” Overnight, she was out of a job with financial responsibilities like an EMI for a home loan and her daughter’s education. Mukherjee says it took her a long time to come to terms with it.

Lay-offs are not personal

They can happen to anyone, even people like Mukherjee who have been performing well. One needs to understand this, explains Ajay Shah, vice president and head of recruitment services at TeamLease Services, a staffing firm. Shah has helped both individuals and companies during lay-offs, and has seen a pattern emerge over the years.

“People lose their jobs because of company restructuring or closure of a certain business and not because of their personal performance, abilities or skills,” he says, adding that it’s important to be positive and work to turn a lay-off into an opportunity.

Find support

According to a report released by RiseSmart, an outplacement and career transition management firm, earlier this year, in which 1,000 executives were interviewed, it was found that letting go of employees is pretty common both in big and small companies, especially in dynamic markets like the IT sector.

Responsible organizations hire outplacement services to help the laid off employees land another job. “Outplacement services are paid for by the employers to benefit employees impacted by a lay-off or company restructuring to help them land their next job quickly,” says Joel Paul, general manager, RiseSmart India. The job of such teams is to match an individual with a career coach, resume writer, etc.

istock

For San Francisco-based Ritu Favre, the outplacement service turned out to be a boon as she hadn’t actively looked for a job in more than a decade. In the middle of 2016, when Favre was with her previous company in San Francisco, she found out that the organization was going through a restructuring. Lay-offs were part of the plan, including her position as a senior manager which would become redundant.

“Leaving a known company is scary. I had never been unemployed in the 20 plus years of my career; being laid off was overwhelming,” she says.

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New job? Here’s how to make new friends.

New job? When it comes to building relationships with Indian colleagues, it’s food that matters the most, according to Mumbai-based operations manager Neha Thadani. Three years ago, when Thadani joined her current company, an MNC based in Mumbai, the newness of the office was overwhelming. “It was a disconcerting experience,” says the 35-year-old, “I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know how things worked, so I decided to change that with food.”

Sweeten your new colleagues

Every day, she would bring something new to office, sweet or savoury, and made it a point to walk across to a couple of colleagues at mid-morning, introduce herself and offer them snacks. “Most people took a breather, talked about what kind of food they loved, and this camaraderie continued as our personal conversations started,” says Thadani.

The initial hesitation over, within a week, her colleagues were inviting her for coffee breaks in the evening, or for lunch, introducing her to others. Within a month, Thadani knew a lot of people in her office, from top management to her juniors, and could find someone to help her out if she was stuck in her work. “Because of food, I could find the human side to the managers and bosses in my office, and connect to them beyond the work they gave me,” says Thadani, something that she feels has helped her tremendously throughout her jobs.

Build relationships anew

Building relationships at work are as important as the tasks the employees have been hired for, according to Neharika Vohra, professor (organizational behaviour), Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. “Relationships are the glue that binds tasks and teams, so they need to be paid attention to,” she says. In the beginning it is best to observe, understand and recognize the pattern of networks within your workplace. “Take initiative to reach out to people, help someone with something you can offer, show people that you are interested in them,” adds Vohra.

Sathappan S. says being interested in how other people work is a great way to break the ice
Sathappan S. says being interested in how other people work is a great way to break the ice
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What is expertise economy?

Are you ready for the expertise economy? Constant upskilling and gaining expertise beyond education is the millennial way to work.

At the age of 25, Gautam Soni, who works as a business analyst at LinkedIn in Bengaluru, has already pivoted twice in his career. After graduating, he did not find a job immediately and tried his hand as a digital media consultant. Two years later, he become interested in data science and pursued a post-graduation diploma with UpGrad, an online course and certification site, investing all his savings into it.

While completing the course, he joined LinkedIn India in operations. He was encouraged to apply his learning on the operations role and in a few months, moved to business analysis, getting a 75% salary hike. “In jobs today, we face new challenges on a daily basis and it’s very important to stay updated and possess the right skill-set,” says Soni.

Soni’s experience captures work life in the age of digitization and acceleration where the world of work is going through a large-scale transition and critical skills and expertise are imperative for success. “New platforms, technologies and ways of business are sprouting constantly,” says Kelly Palmer, co-author of The Expertise Economy, “Businesses and employees need to make sure they have expertise to make these changes work for them. The career path of a future employee focuses on skill development rather than college pedigree,” she explains.

Prateek Benya says upskilling is required – be it through learning from someone in your own company or taking up a course. Photo: Saisen/Mint

Forward thinking companies have already restructured their process in such a way that employees have the choice, and freedom to decide what expertise they want to develop. For startups like 75F, a company that makes efficient buildings using internet of things and cloud computing, upskilling is a necessity to remain competitive in a fast changing, dynamic market.

“From our CEO to a new intern, every employee in our workforce has to stay at pace with technology,” says Oindri Sengupta, HR head, 75F India. “This is why we prioritize learning and development and invest in our people to upskill.” Every new employee goes through an intensive training program and then continues updating themselves through in-house libraries, online courses, industry-relevant certifications and training programs.

The value of an individual today lies in the knowledge and skills he or she brings to an employer or an organization and millennials recognize this, says Lisa Cannell, MD and leadership professor at Darden School of Business in University of Virginia, US in an email interview. This new wave has changed how employees view their careers.

“Millennials now value skill building and development opportunities within a job as much as compensation. If they don’t get required training from companies, they find courses to reskill themselves.”

Lisa Cannell, MD and leadership professor at Darden School of Business in University of Virginia
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Can I fight for equal rights without being labelled a ‘feminist’?

More time is wasted on demeaning the term ‘feminist’ than on understanding and accepting it. Hear me out.

The first time I came across the word ‘feminism’ was in the first week of being at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi. I’d just joined the Bachelors in English and a teacher introduced the class to the feminist ideology, talking about how the social constructs of patriarchy were a way to silence the female gender.

As an impressionable student, I imagined her with a flamed sword, chopping down the shackles of patriarchy our lives were contained in. Outside the class, I asked this teacher if she was married. She said yes. “Ma’am, if you’re a feminist, how can you live with a man?”

The oft misunderstood feminist

Like many others, the presumptuous 17-year-old me had misunderstood the word and done it grave injustice. According to the dictionary, the word ‘feminist’ refers to ‘an advocate of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’. But when I heard it first, I twisted its meaning and made it more about gender wars rather than striving for equality.

Within this anecdote lies my lifelong struggle with the word. (The word, mind you, not the ideology, before you sharpen your Twitter swords at me.) In India, as elsewhere, the word ‘feminist’ is taken into an alternative universe, twisted and turned into a swear word.

Would you use the F-word?

In a dramatic scene in my tantric series, a man calls Anantya Tantrist, the protagonist of the novel, a feminist. It’s not a word of appreciation but used in a slattern way, to put down, as an expletive. Anantya springs out her boneblade, slaps it onto his neck and whispers: “Don’t use the F-word.” Though the dialogue was published as it is in the Indian edition, it was red-flagged by a US-based literary agent.

The moot point: Why would Anantya, a feminist in all manners of behaviour and character, someone who fights against the rigidly patriarchal tantric society, have a problem with being called a feminist? For that’s what she is, isn’t she?

This is not something dramatically new. If there was a dictionary parallel, the term ‘feminist’ in our country would imply not someone who believes in equality but someone who is a ‘feminazi’, a radical feminist, a man-hater, a sexist out to destroy the other gender(s) by not shaving their armpits and not wearing bras. The politest version of its meaning I’ve heard here, unless you’re in academic living rooms, is the quietly sarcastic ‘Oh, you are the feminist type’. with an understanding nod of sudden revelation.

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