There are several careers, and the most famous ones are those that get an individual a huge salary, a good amount of job satisfaction and a huge potential for growth, at any point in time -- that is, at any age.

One of such careers is Human Resources Management, or HR, as it is commonly called, in Corporate jargon. This career is one of the most promising of careers in the industrial world.

However, one should be able to understand the nuances of the entire profession, as it obtains in the industry and then prepare himself/herself, for it.  Lack of adequate information often leads to wrong choices, and then the individual gets stuck in a particular slot, from which he or she can never get out.

The HR profession has two components.  The main component is what is called the Industrial Relations Component, which is the most active and most challenging one.  To understand this dimension, one has to understand the nature of organized labor in India, and its ramifications. 

The most basic definition of industrial relations is that it is the relationship between workers and management in any organization.  This is the simplest definition, but there is a huge amount of complexity in practice.  The Management in every organization ultimately decides what this relationship should be.  At one end of the spectrum, there are Managements that still follow the age-old "hire and fire" policies, when it comes to organized labor.  Apart from merely satisfying the minimum statutory requirements like a subsidised canteen, some rest room facilities, and so on, which are all governed by the Factories Act, and some safety precautions, there is nothing that indicates a good state of affairs.  At all levels, there is mistrust between the two sides, and the HR officer or Manager has to constantly fight out fires.  He or she cannot do anything except hear both sides and literally explain the stand of one side to the other on any issue.  This may start from such silly matters like changing the menu in the breakfast on a single day of the week, to more complicated issues like support for the education of children.  Since every single such thing involves money, most Managements do tend to take their own cool time to decide such things and, more often than not, tend to postpone the decision to the next bipartite or tripartite settlement, periodicity of which is normally once in three years.  Some organizations sign a settlement once in four years too.  Such settlements are statutorily governed by what is famously called the Industrial Relations Act.

At the other end of the spectrum there are some organizations that have allowed a huge dose of the advanced behavioral science research and practice to percolate to the actual world of industrial relations in their own company.  This simply means that each side has mutual respect for each other, are able to understand that the needs and aspirations of each other, and there is a spirit of give and take.  Most importantly, the Management representatives go far beyond the formal discussions with the trade union representatives and go all out of the way to reach to the individual workman.  Since the access to the actual feelings and emotions of a huge cross section of workmen is accurately known by the experts, who are trained in the nuances of modern human resources practices as well,the management of industrial relations acquires a completely different dimension, and the enlightened approach means that negotiations also become smoother to that extent.

THE MIDDLE APPROACH 

Caught somewhere between each of the two approaches is a middle approach, that attempts to marry the best of both approaches.  Here, the balance between the two approaches can be easily felt, and the Management is always seen as firm, but fair.  

Any young person who aspires to make it very big in Human Resources Profession should go through the entire mill of industrial relations and the modern HR approach as well.  If he or she has never handled crisis situations on the shop floor, he or she is very unlikely to understand the nuances of the advanced negotiations that precede a settlement, where the trade unions and the Managements attempt to extract maximum from each other.

For example, the Managements bring in some clauses that focus on reducing absenteeism, and also increasing productivity. 

In short, the young man or woman, normally with a Master's Degree in Social Work, with  a specialization in HR from a recognized University, or a MBA ( HR), has to go through every aspect of industrial relations like handling canteen affairs, recruitment and selection, grievance handling, shop floor industrial relations, safety management, management of security, management of welfare amenities that have both the statutory and the non statutory dimensions and so on.  Once he or she gains the practical experience, things become easy.  

However, the most important point is that, to reach to a General Manager's position, it normally takes at least around 12 years of hard core experience, in each of the aforesaid areas. One has to be rather patient, but even if he or she quits the job, the job change should be value adding in terms of experience, and not in terms of mere salary alone.  

There are huge multi-unit, multi-product conglomerates like the Aditya Birla group, but the problem here is that a person may be the Manager of a small cement unit with hardly two hundred workmen.  

One has to be very careful here.  If the position is not very challenging, it is very dangerous to enter such jobs.  With each change, the HR professional has to go through changes where the number of people handled in each factory is more than the previous experience.

And then he or she has to slog it out in terms of learning every detail about every new HR practice -- for example, the 360 degree appraisal, and then go on to the next level.  Once he or she is able to achieve this mix of experiences, HR as a career is a very good option. 

Once again, changes across industries is also advisable.  One can start with hard core HR, including signing of bipartite or tripartite settlements and then move on to the IT industry where he or she can spend five years in hard core HR practices like Performance Appraisal, Career Planning, Strategy-related HR training, welfare and engagement practices in a IT setting and so on. 

He or she will do well to come back to manufacturing in a senior position, and be based in the Corporate Office.  This will give him or her, an unique opportunity of overseeing everything from a larger perspective and having a big go at Corporate HR, which is really a very big umbrella profession.

FMCG MARKETING

Marketing is the most exiting career in the world, since there is marketing of every product or service and so much learning, in a very seamless fashion.  There is no profession that has any comparison in terms of actual learning. The customers change, the markets change, the nature of markets undergo dramatic transformation even in advanced markets and technology is a big differentiator in many many markets.  

However, the profession of Marketing is more or most interesting, if one chooses a career in FMCG marketing.  The learning is tremendous.  Marketing here is of two types, in the product category.  The two types are pure consumer products and consumer durables.  Experience in both these markets and products will give the individual a big edge.

However, at least five years of hard core experience in advertising will help any MBA to move up the ladder and understand the markets that much easier.  

One also has to look for the big brand and the big companies and if the challenge is huge, he or she should plunge in.  For example, there is a Chennai-based company called Cavinkare.  This company has attracted a huge number of professionals from the likes of Unilever, mainly because the highly empowered culture of decision making is a very challenging one, 

Cavinkare has hugely successful products like Chik shampoo.  To develop new markets for such a product is always a great challenge.

In conclusion, one has to clearly understand what it takes to succeed in today's complex world.  Learning from the experiences of others, will help a great deal indeed.

In addition, a stint in the service industry like hotels or resorts or the transport industry, can also help the person to learn a lot and also procure very good jobs. 


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