Ask The Doctor
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I am very disturbed. I got a new boss last week. He was a year junior to me in college and then again, junior by a year at B-school. Academically too, I was near the top of my class and he was a laggard. Five years ago, he joined a much smaller and less reputed agency compared to where I was already working by then. I am feeling very hurt, more so since he is my direct boss. To be fair, in the last week he has not done or said anything offensive or negative. But the very fact that he has always been my junior and is now my boss, is something I just can’t swallow. Should I resign right away?
I think you first need to grow up. All these references to school batches need to fade out from your mind after you graduate. One batch plus or minus doesn’t really matter in the real world. I have known friends who have lived their entire lives only benchmarking themselves and their success to former batch mates. All they have got in return is untold misery and limitless anxiety. I think you first need to get yourself out of comparison mode.
School life and work life are different. Just because you were senior to someone in school or college does not automatically give you the right to remain ahead of that person all your life. At work and in real life, a host of other factors come into play. You have to learn to factor these into the reality of your work and accept them for what they are.
Not for a moment am I saying that having your college junior as your boss is a pleasant situation. But it’s possible that in the last five years, your new boss had exposure and experience that was richer and more varied than yours. It’s possible he got to work on brands or projects that were more visible or rigorous and that enriched his CV more than yours. There must be a reason that your agency management chose to bring him in the slot that he now occupies and which is hierarchically above you. You have to grant it to your management that such decisions are not taken blindly.
My advice is to first have a chat with your new boss. Tell him that since you are senior to him from college, you are feeling uncomfortable reporting to him. Tell him you have no personal issues with him but would appreciate if you can be moved to another group so that it will avoid any possibilities of an ego clash. Ask him to initiate the internal transfer. If this does not work, give it a few days and speak to your head of office. Repeat the request. I think it will be granted.
Any case, it is for your good to forget school batches and concentrate on professional achievements. Going forward, the clients you handle, how well you handle them and how well they speak of you, will be the yardsticks for growth.
I am working for a media house in Dubai. I’ve been overseas for over 20 years now. Due to family pressures, I want to come back to India. But all the advertising related jobs are in Mumbai. I want to be closer home to Kerala. My initial efforts to find something worthwhile in Kochi did not work out. I expanded my search to Mumbai and Pune but so far nothing of substance has come about. Agencies do not seem to put any value on my experience in Dubai. As an art director, I have worked on global accounts but everyone believes no original advertising is created in the Middle East. Can you connect me to agencies I could seek opportunities at?
I really do not know if I can help you with names of HR consultants. The best place to do that is the internet. You will have plenty of choice there.
Relocating from Dubai to India has always been a challenge. You are right in saying that your experience in the Middle East is not very well valued or appreciated in India. This is a hangover from the past when very little original creative work was done in Dubai. Most of the work was adaptations of international campaigns. It is still not understood fully in India that the Dubai market has matured over the years and some really good creative campaigns emerge every year from that market. However, we cannot do much to spread the good word around and help your cause for now.
I suggest you expand your search in India beyond just advertising. There is lots happening in content development, especially in the work agencies are doing with social media and video. This kind of work is not at the traditional ad agency but in a host of start-ups which can use your talents. The creatives that they do are more whacky, more out of the box, more interactive and most times on video. So, take out stuff from your personal archives that matches up to that kind of requirement. Reformat your CV to focus not on advertising campaigns but on websites, blogs, interactive catalogues, etc.
You could also approach e-commerce companies. All of them have large design studios for their product pages. The work is interesting and needs quick turnaround. Fashion your CV for these companies accordingly.
Most importantly, take at least a month off. Come to India. Come to Mumbai. Physically go meet people in the organizations that you want to work at. Just sending in a CV or a mail is not good enough. It’s a hard slog but waiting at a reception yields better results most times than an emailed request. In your meetings, do not be apologetic about working in Dubai. Constantly refer to it as ‘global experience’ and do not waver. Rehearse your answers to questions which will largely revolve around your 20 years in Dubai. Come across as ‘global’ rather than Dubai-returned.
Wish you good luck.
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