Career planning for lifelong creatives
Are you a restless creative who is blessed by the muse, so that whatever you touch turns to Gold. How would you plan and play your career? Learn this from Pavan, because he is one too.
I started my career as a Techie.
In 94, I came to Bangalore and started working for Arvind Mills in Oracle tools & technologies. The billing software I wrote took me to Lee showrooms all over the country.
I mastered what had to be done and was restless within 2 years. I moved.
I worked for Wipro from 96 to 99 and became the resident troubleshooter for Oracle Applications ERP. Since Wipro played in a bigger arena, my work took me to many countries.
I had been dating Namrata for 4 years, so at all of 24 - we married. We relocated to the US, to a new job, but my troubleshooter tag continued.
I was learning that I needed a continuing supply of creative challenges to be happy. I worked on 40 projects in 3 years.
Oracle Corporation had always been an aspirational company for me. For a while I got pulled into working for larger companies like Oracle and GE. But we decided to relocate back to India in 2004.
Wipro was thrilled to hire me back again and I was back to my role of putting out fires.
As a program manager and then account manager, I also got into putting out proposals and forging new customer relationships. Yet 2 years later, doing very well in this, I wanted a new challenge.
Yet, I stuck with Wipro upto 2013 because the company culture is unique in letting you find different roles, every 2 years. Also, if you are delivering the results, Wipro treats you as an entrepreneur.
In 2012, as I was walking down the streets of New York, the billboard for New York Film Academy caught my eye and would not let go of me. I was 39 at that time.
Here I was - looking at a full-blown career change in the eye! From IT to film-making.
Namrata supported me and said, ‘If you transfer our living expenses for 2 years into my account, I will feed us all and run the house. You go chase the dream’.
I was at the crossroads “risk at 40” or “regret at 50”, I chose risk again.
Thus started the 2nd innings of my career, I founded “Open Face Media”, we broke even within 6 months and I have not looked back ever since.
As a film-maker. I wanted continuous creative thrills. Wish fulfilled. Every film project provides this to me afresh.
Thus, I broke my change-role-every-2-years streak and stuck to filmmaking ever since.
The films made by Open Face won three prestigious international awards. Sustaining ourselves during the Covid Crisis was not easy, but I did that too. Maybe because challenges excite me.
Today, I do many other things apart from making films. Running, Cycling, Tennis, and Biking (with my custom bike), supporting a few NGOs.
As a family, all 4 of us cherish playing sports together.
There is one common thread in all of this. There is no gap between my intentions and actions.
I have learnt to accept that my intentions grow and morph, because a part of me always craves the new.
I also know that to be successful, I need to show results and succeed in a sustainable fashion. For this, I must honour my intentions with commensurate action.
To keep my passion ever-alive, I work to ensure two things
I have clear intentions, articulated as clear goals for myself. I work hard to spell them out clearly. Next 1 year. Next 2 years. Next 5 years. In as much visual and verbal detail as possible.
Then, I work even harder to realise them in action. By keeping my action muscles strong and fit, I can dream with my eyes open. This Functional fitness is my mantra.
If you are a Creative, who is trying to walk to the music that plays in your head, rather than only trying to succeed in conventional terms, then I would urge you to not look too far out in the future. What you can see, plan it well. Execute it even better.
Play life on the front foot!