View From The Top and How To Get There – CXOs speak about their early careers and the journey to the top

The top corner office is enticing but not everyone gets to be up there; The path is gruelling, and the journey arduous. CXOs do it all, they draw up strategies, they head major projects, they hire the right people, and sometimes they even oversee the assembly lines. What makes them different from others? Most importantly how did they start? “It’s all about the clarity of purpose, the sooner you’ll figure that out, the faster you’ll know how to fulfill it.”, says Mr. Sumit Puri, CIO, Max Health Care.  “I was ordinary, but I kept learning and added the extra along the way”, says Mr. Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman, Cargill India. In a candid conversation with chief executives of two global corporations, students of FIIB discovered their secrets to success in life and career. Dig in to get a share yourself

Q: In the pool of opportunities, how does a fresh graduate choose an organization to work with?

Mr. Siraj Chaudhry: In this day and age, it’s very important to find your USP. One needs to introspect what they are best at doing. A student needs to evaluate his/her strengths and weaknesses to discover the career paths they need to start out for. Being bold, different, and taking the path less travelled works in your favor. It is also risky, because if you lack passion in what you’ve chosen, you might end up with a job you will hate. So, align your passion and strengths to the job role and organization you are going to choose. Research about the industry and which organization’s culture fits your needs and keep working in that direction. An organization is only good as your fit.

Mr. Sumit Puri: Clarity of Purpose is the key to success. You need to decide what excites you the most. Make your passion your profession. During the 2 years of MBA, pinpoint what excites you, and work towards building that career. Find an organization which helps you reach your goals by reaching theirs. Find people who help you fulfill your goals and brand yourself. It simply isn’t enough to decide what you’re going to do, you need to work hard to achieve that too. So, when you come across an opportunity that you think is your right fit, don’t let it go.

How do we find our passion and how is different from just ‘liking’ something?

SC: If you are passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ when you are doing it, you won’t feel tired or compromised. Passion makes you wait for the right chance. Passion doesn’t let you get up. If you find what makes you passionate, you are lucky, now you only need to figure out how to do it. It doesn’t mean you need to be extraordinary. You can make your ordinaries count by working hard on your strengths and harder to turn your weaknesses around.

SP: Often, we are confused between liking and passion. There’s an easy way to distinguish between them. For example, if you like bodybuilding and if wonder it’s your passion. Go to a calm place, envision yourself in the future, probably you see yourself as a trainer, or you see yourself as a bodybuilding champion. If you see so, that’s your passion. If you don’t, it’s not. This could be anything. Passion is what ignites the spark inside you, it won’t let you sleep. It won’t let you rest till you get it. Everybody has a passion like that. Identify yours and you are already halfway through.

What’s your mantra for success in career?

SC: It’s very important to keep yourself updated and relevant. I believe an organization is like a pyramid, the higher you go, the narrower it becomes. The wider base of the pyramid is where you start. There are the most number of people working in this level in any organization out of which some move to the middle levels of the organization by developing new set of skills. On an average, an employee spends a large part of his career here, the journey from here to top is extremely laborious. One needs to truly build differentiators to reach the top level. Very few people reach this level, and if you want to be one of them, visualize this pyramid approach to climb up the organizational ladder early in the career. Find your differentiators and keep improving them. That’s what I did and this is my secret to success.

SP: I realized that there’s a 5P approach to success. Whether it’s life or career, these 5Ps help you achieve more and be more. The first one is Purpose: Purpose is the first step to discovering oneself and setting goals. The earlier you discover your purpose and set lamp posts for yourself, the easier you’ll get ahead in life. The second is Passion: Sometimes, we discover that while working for something, instead of getting tired, we feel energised after it’s done, that’s passion. It could be writing, coding, or managing people and resources, turn it into your career and you’ll never have to work for a day in your life. People: Surround yourself with people who complement your skills. Learn from them and work together as a group for mutual benefits, it help each one in your group including YOU to succeed in life. Platform: Once you have a synergy of all the 4Ps, it’s crucial to find and build platforms for you to shine. That include building a strong professional network, marketing yourself as an expert in the field of your choice, and leveraging connections you have to grab opportunities. With this mix, I believe, there is no one who is going to stop you from winning and this is my mantra for success.

Well, we got plenty of insightful advice that ignited the spark to succeed, have you?