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Ask the Doctor With Sandeep Goyal

22-January-2018
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Ask the Doctor With Sandeep Goyal

I am not from advertising. I work on the procurement team of a large client organization. But I have often been involved in negotiations with our ad agencies. My discussions have been completely commercial but I am fascinated by the kind of work done inside an ad agency and their media arms. I think, given a little training, I could do extremely well in an ad agency. The work looks very creative and I am, I think, very suited for a job like that. What I do not understand is how to make the switch, and what role would I get assigned to within an ad agency. Also, I am not sure how well agencies pay. Please do help me on what I can do to move to the other side of the table.
Anup B.

Dear Anup,
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I am sure whoever is your interface at the agency you deal with, would willingly trade an arm and a leg to be in your shoes. The worst nightmare of every agency is dealing with this new beast called procurement in client offices! You are, as a part of procurement, in the driver’s seat, most times making unreasonable demands and beating up the ad agency folks, reducing them to submission on quotes and costs where hardly any profit remains for the creators. Why would you want to be the oppressed when you are already happily the oppressor?

Be as it may, with your current skill-sets, a switch to the ad agency will not be to the creative functions that you so envy and feel attracted to. Your fitment is likely to be in the commercial functions of the ad agency or in client servicing which may not really be the desired destination for you in the agency world. However, you may want to consider moving to the media agencies. Today media agencies are also quite ‘creative’ in what they do in terms of giving solution and you could, given your experience in procurement, be a good media buyer. Check it out, though I still think most guys would covet your current job far more than the one you are seeking.

My husband has just been transferred to Dubai. He did not ask for the transfer but since there was an urgent opening in the office there, and he was the only qualified and experienced person suited for the job, he has been moved to Dubai. The money, converted into Indian currency, looks good but I am not sure it is adequate for our family of four. From the enquiries that I have made: 1. Children’s education is very expensive 2. Good housing is expensive 3. Getting a driving license is very difficult. Most importantly, I am not sure if I will be able to pick up a job. I am a trained chartered accountant but have been on sabbatical for the last five years raising the kids. My husband believes he should go ahead for about 6 months and check out the place, including costs. I think that is too much of a risk as right now he can refuse the transfer and life can go on as is. Once he moves to Dubai, he cannot ask to come back in 6 months.
Priya M.

Dear Priya,
You have done your research pretty well. You are hundred percent correct in stating: 1. Children’s education is very expensive 2. Good housing is expensive 3. Getting a driving license is very difficult. All three statements you make are accurate and true.
Therefore,
1. Make sure your husband’s pay package in Dubai provides for children’s education separately and the allowance that he gets is adequate for not just the fees but also the school bus and other allied school expenses. There are enough schools which are aligned to ICSE and CBSE in Dubai. There are of course schools which prepare kids for IGCSE and IB. These schools are very expensive and the fees can be debilitating on a regular salary. Be careful in the choice of the school.
2. Yes, housing is reasonably expensive though rents have eased somewhat in the past couple of years. A decent two-bedroom place will put you back by at least 75-80,000 dirhams in a not so tony neighbourhood. A better neighbourhood will cost 100,000 dirhams. Your husband’s salary should provide for this. Also, in Dubai normally you have to pay the entire year’s rent in advance in a single cheque. Please plan for adequate liquidity.
3. Getting a driving license is difficult for sure. Actually, it is a process which you have no choice but to follow. Irrespective of whether you have an Indian license or not, you will need to take driving lessons in Dubai. If you are diligent and careful, you could get your license quite quickly. Most Indians flunk the test because our driving skills are not conditioned to the rigours of Dubai. Budget a good 3-6 months for the license to come through. That is realistic.
I think the best positive for you in Dubai is that you are a qualified Chartered Accountant. The recent introduction of VAT in the UAE has suddenly created a huge vacuum, hence demand, for trained accountants. For you to pick up a job in Dubai should be pretty easy provided your skills have not got rusted while you were on sabbatical.
Overall, Dubai is a great city to be in. Quality of life in Dubai will be far far superior to any city in India. Living standards are good. You get to drive good cars. There is almost no pollution. Almost everyone speaks your language. Indian food and ingredients are commonly available. You can get to see Indian movies in cinema halls. There is a temple. And there are loads of Indians around so you never miss being in the home country. Go enjoy yourself.

I am getting caught between my boss and the head of Creative at our agency. I am a relatively junior executive in client servicing. My job is more internal housekeeping. My boss and the creative head just don’t like each other. So for all communication with the Creative head, he uses me as the interface. The creative head is actually quite fond of me but he uses every occasion to abuse and curses my boss when I approach him with a job. The entire unpleasantness of the process is getting me very demoralized. I go to work dreading the foul language that both my boss and the Creative head will use for each other and how all I do an entire day is to be the bridge between two very bitter men. I have considered resigning but have no options right now.
Sandesh P.

Dear Sandesh,
I don’t envy your situation. Being sandwiched between two bitter and warring men is no fun.
It may not be your station of life but have you considered counselling either/both of them? The Creative head, since he is fond of you, maybe more amenable and open to your trying to work out a reconciliation between him and your servicing boss.
I am also a little surprised that the top management of the agency has not noticed the chasm and tried to get its two important functionaries to sink differences and work together.
For you, I have very little advice except to watch for this ugly situation to repair itself quickly; or else it would be better to move on. Constant unpleasantness at work is not good. I must congratulate you for your patience and forbearance. These are good qualities and will stand you in good stead in the years to come. May be you should sign up for a course in Alternate Dispute Redressal!

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