Sandeep Das, an MBA from IIM Bangalore and a strategy course holder from INSEAD, wears multiple hats. He is a Director in management consulting at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).
In his free time, he has authored 3 books (‘Yours Sarcastically’, ‘Satan’s Angels’ and his upcoming book ‘Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s Guide to Making it Big’) which have got rave reviews from the Times of India, Asian Age, Hindu, Business India and other places.
He has authored over 100 opinion pieces for leading business publications like Fortune, Business World & Outlook Money. He has also been invited to speak at multiple institutes like IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIT Bombay, St. Stephen’s Delhi, IIM Kozhikode, FMS Delhi amidst other places.
In this discussion, we talk to him about his journey, his upcoming book and his advice for millennials currently studying in business schools and entering the corporate workforce.
Debayan: Given the taxing demands of the consulting profession, how do you balance out your primary professional career and an alternate career?
First of all; thanks Debayan for this discussion. It is truly incredible what the InsideIIM team has managed to achieve so far.
To be honest, it is very difficult to manage a taxing primary career along with an equally demanding alternate career. One of the aspects that has worked very well for me is to wake up early (around 4:30 - 5 am) over the last 10 years. An early morning slot gives my mind a clean passage to focus on my alternate career while the drama of a regular career takes over after 9 am.
In addition, I consciously spend 4 - 6 hours every weekend on my alternate career. Over a period of 10 years, the right opportunities land up at your doorstep.
Debayan: Would you advice young MBA postgraduates to consciously develop an alternate career over the next few years?
I would strongly suggest everyone pursue an alternate career along with their taxing primary career. Leading research also indicates that most people are likely to straddle multiple careers over this decade.
An alternate career can span across creative arts (e.g., dancing, writing, photography, culinary), a small business in parallel or a teaching role in an institute. While a primary career is necessary to pay the EMIs, an alternate career often nourishes the soul and fulfils individual aspirations.
Debayan: Tell us about your latest book, “Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s guide to making it Big”?
Over the last few years, there have been multiple reports that over 80% of graduates and young MBAs are unemployable. They don’t have the right skill sets and practical knowledge to succeed. To be fair to them, the institutes they study in and the places they work in don’t teach them practical skill sets and address pointers on what they should know or what they would want to know. Most millennials believe what they learn as part of their education is not relevant and where they work doesn’t fulfil them.
Over the last 2 - 3 years, I ended up speaking to over 250 millennials and leading HR heads on what they believe should be necessary skill sets that millennials ought to have to succeed in life, both personally and professionally. ‘Hacks for Life and Career: A Millennial’s Guide to Making it Big’ is an attempt in that direction to plug that gap and make millennials ready to take on life, both personally and professionally.
For instance, some of the sections it has revolved around are:
- Set of 20 business concepts with practical examples that will be used on a day-to-day basis at work
- Understanding of long term careers across various industries like FMCG, management consulting, banking and e-commerce
- Understanding of personal finance, the stock markets and investing principles for millennials
- A set of 20 thought leadership articles which every millennial ought to know
- A primer on entrepreneurship - likely ideas, starting up on your own, pitfalls to avoid and scaling for success
- A short history of business and more importantly the various financial crises over the last 100 years
- Managing individual careers, navigating the corporate maze and succeeding in new age slash careers
Debayan: You write for numerous business publications like Fortune, Business World & Outlook Money. Tell us about your opinion pieces and why should people be reading it?
I have been writing for the last 7 - 8 years for numerous business publications. In terms of themes, I write at the intersection of consumer behaviour, culture, technology and behavioural psychology. For instance, my last column at Fortune was on leveraging Japanese culture to drive effective financial investing.
I would suggest people read these columns as they are contemporary, unconventional and operate at the intersection of multiple subjects.
Debayan: We see you speak at a lot of business schools. How do you see careers changing for young postgraduates after COVID?
There are numerous shifts that are likely over the next decade. Like I mentioned, everyone is likely to have a primary and an alternate career. In addition, primary careers are likely to be non-linear. Someone might start with e-commerce, decide to join a consulting firm, leave it to become a faculty at a business school, decide to start your own firm, join the government after that, etc. No industry/domain is likely to be permanent and everything will change every 2 - 3 years.
Also, I see education being more lifelong than ending with business school. Most management professionals are likely to have 3 - 4 short stints across business schools after their MBA. In terms of career selections, with increasing levels of stress and focus on mental health, work-life balance will start becoming more important than compensation and career growth.
Debayan: Given you happened to pass out during the 2008 financial crisis, what advice would you give to MBA graduates passing out of this year?
I actually made a video on this exact topic and would recommend everyone to see that when they are free.
I would suggest people are realistic with their aspirations in a down market and take the first option they get which doesn’t make them miserable. Also, everyone should consciously invest in themselves (through reading, networking, pursuing alternate careers) every day to become a better version of themselves over a period of time. It makes sense to be prudent with individual finances over the next few years. Finally, like most things in life, such a difficult phase is temporary and normalcy will return over the next 6 - 9 months.
After all, people should not forget that form is temporary but class is permanent!