Monday, May 9, 2011

India Calling? First Answer the Question WII-FM?

The "India Calling", themed SAMBAA event on May 9, where I was a panelist, drew an astonishingly accomplished, enthusiastic, energetic and diverse audience with a range of interests (renewable to retail, rural to lifestyle). However almost everyone I chatted with (before as well as after the panel) had one underlying question in common:  If I go to India, will it work out (be successful)?

Its easy and appropriate to answer this vaguely.. well it really depends on what you want .. depends on what your goals are ..etc. because that is the reality. But as I think about it I realise this question can be handled like a corporate re-organisation where the first question that pops into my head  is :What's In It For Me or WII-FM?

So, go ahead, if you are considering a move to India have some fun with the following questions:
Q1 - Is moving to India a major strategic career change for you?
Your answer is NO if there is no financial downside to you such as loss of a paycheck (e.g. if your company is opening office in India and will move you or its a paid internship etc etc) and my advice is move to India but don't burn any bridges in US and while in India keep up with your contacts.  A major career change often requires you to give up something or making an investment.
Q2 -  What is the benefit or why do you want to move to India?
Most common answers to this one are - I want my children to grow up in India or I want to be with aging parent. Both are good reasons and you may have others but if you cannot clearly articulate a benefit it means your answer is NO and you should shelve the idea till you figure this out. I phrase the question as a benefit to you because other common answers I get are : I want to give back or I want to do good and those are poor success predictors and indeed are good reasons for you to stay here and engage with India in other ways.
Q3 - With this pre work done you are ready to answer WII-FM? Create a statement, write it down - take the long term view (long depends on what industry you are in - average is 3 years) because while it is easy to move back and forth these days, still some preparation and field work can make your move more fun as well as a personal and career development activity. This question often has to do with what makes you happy - which is important in keeping your attitude positive when things look low. It helps you define boundary conditions.

With this under your belt - its time to talk specifics!

Other topic: Several people brought up spousal agreement. I do believe that if involved parties answer the above questions first individually and then move to a common ground things will go better. Also - if you haven't been to India in the last 2 years - make a trip - some things are just the same but others are radically new.

Most importantly - like other decisions this one too is a heart decision - follow your heart and your head will figure out what to do to make it work.

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