“It’s fine to have an element of ambiguity regarding one’s career choice. Even I am still exploring.”
For my interaction, I chose to interview Mr. Vaidyanathan Parameswaran, Vice President at Corporate Finance Department in Bank of New York Mellon.
Prior to BNY Mellon, Mr. Vaidyanathan had worked for the central bank of India, RBI, across various departments. I chose to interview him as he has a diverse background with graduation in field of computer science and professional experience in core finance field. In addition, he has an exposure to working with both government and private sector banks and hence, could provide a holistic view from his rich experience with the revered institutions.
After joining XLRI, I had heard a lot about him from my peer group. I wanted to use the opportunity presented by InsideIIM to gain more insights about his successful career. Given the short span of time, it wasn’t easy to approach him. I dropped a formal text to his LinkedIn account requesting for a conversation in this context.
At the onset, he refused as he was not available due to prior commitments over the weekend. However, to my delight, on Saturday evening, I saw a message from his side for his availability at late night for a brief conversation. I immediately replied and connected with him.
Speaking to Vaidyanathan was an absolute pleasure. A humble, grounded and practical person, he answered every question patiently. Born and brought up in Chennai, he had always aimed at making a name in the corporate sector. As a child, he made sure that he participated in different activities and maintained his forte in academics. In high school, he decided to take science and pursue engineering with a simple aim of landing into a competitively compensated job and acquire some technical knowledge.
Post engineering, he worked for HCL Technologies as a software engineer for two years. While working with HCL, he realised that his current job does not excite him much, it was “unsustainable” and he aspired for a change. He decided to pursue his MBA and explore other options. Subsequently, he pursued his MBA from IMT Ghaziabad where he developed interest in the field of finance and started pursuing CFA. Given his hard-work and interest, he got placed on Day 0 with RBI. It is one of the fondest moments in his alma mater that has helped shaped the future course of his professional career and instilled immense pride and confidence in him.
Going forward, he worked with RBI as a Manager and thereafter decided to leave the secure and comfortable government job to join BNY Mellon despite huge resistance from family and friends.From his journey, he believes that like different turns in his career-path from science to commerce, it is perfectly fine for one to have an element of ambiguity about the career one wants to pursue. It is not wrong to have doubts or to regret over a past decision as he did by choosing engineering because one may not necessarily have a holistic understanding at the time of making decision. But what one must always take care of is to follow one’s heart and take corrective actions the moment one realizes one’s mistake and move forward.
Moreover, as a recruiter, he seeks for two important factors while assessing any potential candidate for his team:
First- Inquisitiveness, the agility to learn more. He feels specific skills of the job can be acquired on ground till the time hunger for learning is alive.
Second- a holistic personality. The candidate should have a fine balance between academics/ technical knowledge and other essential traits of a team player/ leader. He believes that having one’s passion in line with one’s career can help one immensely. For instance, his passion in teaching during leisure has complemented him in his career. Teaching CFA curriculum at one of the professional institutes helped him expand his knowledge base and push his limits. It helped him gain more in-depth clarity and foster interest in his specialization.
During my interaction, I also learnt some important lessons for a successful career.
“First, we must always “Walk the Talk”. The values emanate from the top, from the leader and permeate throughout the organization. As a leader, if one is not able to practice what he preaches, then it would be taken merely as a lip service and would lose the value of his words.
Second, clear and frequent communication is quintessential. Only if we communicate what is there in our mind would things move in the right direction.
Communication is not just limited to interaction but also includes listening. For a brand to be successful, it must always be a listening brand. It must always be receptive to new ideas and criticism from its customer/ audience to ensure long term survival and sustainability.
Third, we should never let our net worth define our self-worth. We must always find our purpose in life. If we can solve a problem or improve a life, our career would be worth more than any currency. Being a leader in an organization has nothing to do with one’s position. It’s more to do with our own decision and to look after/ protect the person to our left/ right. The more we look after each other, the more we feel protected, and the more we’ll work together. We must aim at earning the name, fame and respect for the human we are and not for the position we hold. Our positions are just temporary, but the human inside us would always stay and evolve.” Thus, he laid emphasis on the journey of mind and building long term relationships based on mutual respect and care.
Mr. Parameswaran is truly an inspiration and an example to emulate, someone bold enough to listen to his heart and leave a well-compensated secured job at RBI and ready to defy the norms and change his career path in light of upcoming opportunities/ evolving interests.
- Yash Aggarwal