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The Right Choice book review: Perfect guide to every student, graduate, professional

We live in times where the average career span of a manager is longer than the lifespan of a company now - the time has come to decode the new graph of success which is not a straight line - never is - never was, but is now more turbulent than ever

Devendra Chawla | February 26, 2021 | Updated 17:13 IST
The Right Choice book review: Perfect guide to every student, graduate, professional
The Right Choice by Shiv Shivakumar

Businesses are going through tectonic shifts. There is widespread disruption altering the landscape on which our careers rest (or unrest). With the introduction of new opportunities and challenges posed by the sharing economy, digital disruptions, work from home, gig economy, one needs to continuously introspect and have a sounding board to manage these shifts successfully.

We live in times where the average career span of a manager is longer than the lifespan of a company now - the time has come to decode the new graph of success which is not a straight line - never is - never was, but is now more turbulent than ever. It becomes even more challenging when we look back at careers to figure the future. The game rules are being rewritten so often, so fast that to keep pace itself is the new career "life jacket ".

I have known Shiv from his Nokia days and seen him transition from Nokia to Pepsi and now ABG. At the outset, I must admit I would read any book he authors. I have attended many of his sessions and invited him to speak with my teams and the entire organisation.

This book guides every age group, from management trainee to a start-up founder to a working mother to someone planning to hang up his/her boots and then wear another pair. Different ones.

That we all face many dilemmas in our lives won't be an understatement. The Right Choice is the perfect guide to every student, fresh graduate and a professional, a wife, a mom, a wannabe board member, current and about to be a CEO.

Learnings from industry leaders who have traversed such journeys of the ups and the downs and the sideways and more, they share their stories and how they resolved many of these dilemmas that came in the way. It's not the story alone that connects but how Shiv brings the best out of them, which gives a peek at the homework he did before sitting down with them. That's Shiv. The book uses data to support many arguments which connect many dots.

No matter at which stage of work level or where in the world you are, this book gives the perspective one needs as well as the support to be able to shake hands with many such dilemmas. How you encourage your spouse yet manage your career, when to shift industries and for what reason, when to move countries, living apart from family while working, contemplating another MBA, and is age a factor in today's world when to acquire one. As a leader, managing an associate, a star one at that, who wants to go on a sabbatical and how one could mentor her/him in this decision.

The dilemma of turning an entrepreneur is taking gigantic proportions in an economy that supports the start-up ecosystem. Yet one of the many regrets of many successful professionals I have myself spoken to/met. While mental make-up and situation influences these choices, is there a broad funnel one can run this past through and not just intuition. The detail in which Shiv talks about product ideas, funding, challenges, and investors is very insightful.

Many students in college face dilemmas while planning their careers and first jobs. They will benefit greatly from this chapter. Shiv describes various points that a new professional needs to keep in mind. Should money be the criteria for decision making. I wish this book was written when I was embarking on my journey. However, it's never too late to shape our choices as work lifespans; options/choices have increased manifold from the days we started our career.

How to improve one's professional life? An MBA is something everyone thinks about, but a second MBA. !! Shiv will walk with you through this one about why you want to do that second MBA.

Many couples stay apart while pursuing their dreams. Many working couples face this dilemma to balance family responsibilities and careers. While young professionals are amid this dilemma, several social factors like family, support systems etc. What "calculations" can be done before making such a decision? Job switching!!When, how does it help. OR not. If you have to return to your old job, you have to make yourself valuable enough for your old employer to keep a tab on you and want you back. Shiv perfectly guides one to build a reputation in your job at all times.

A break for some time, a gap year and a sabbatical is now so much more acceptable in the world we live. I need "My time ". Yet so many don't take, or should they? Professionals as well entrepreneurs in between their ventures take a sabbatical for several reasons. I don't think that it's restricted just to a professional. What's the role of a spouse in this decision, or a friend mentoring another friend.

Switching industries and countries. That can give sleepless nights. Shiv shares his journey of moving from Nokia to PepsiCo. The planning it took to prepare himself for this transition and speaking to as many people and getting as much advice as possible and some essential detailed advice in summary. Apart from himself, Shiv shares real interviews of leaders who have faced this dilemma and how they went about it. The various perspectives bring in clarity over such high-stake decisions.

Moving abroad! Change of culture and adjustments can be a nightmare. Work-life balance and managing self in these terrains can be a more significant catalyst to success than the target achievement. Shiv brings to the fore with data and charts/ statistics supporting work-life balance, career opportunities, salary, global experience and job security.

The fact that Shiv has been a professional does not stop him from probing and bringing what it takes to be an entrepreneur. And this is a part that touches, warms the cockles and makes one feel younger, passionate and energetic to take on if it was a dream.

Board roles come more often than ever in the past. How should one negotiate this and gather information on the company, CEO, what time commitment it might require? How to keep a balance and whom to be connected with. Some reliable charts and statistics about women on boards. The fact that Shiv himself is on many boards gives him the legitimacy to dwell on this while sharing other board-member's stories. An absolute treat.

And this brings me to the favorite chapter of mine as it resonates with my current career stage. The real challenges and sacrifices of a CEO. Full of insights and great feedback from seasoned industry leaders. It describes the complicated and challenging position a CEO is continually negotiating. With all the rewards and accolades that this position comes with, there are also several do's and don'ts that a CEO has to be careful about. Shiv has been a CEO for more than half his career, and the wisdom shines in this chapter.

There are various dilemmas we all face throughout our lifetime; However, the book is about career dilemmas and gives you a great perspective of different ways of taking them on, I feel I could relate to them from multiple views of a husband, father, employer, supportive friend and start-up mentor. Age, place, current situation is "NO BAR" to gain insightful & priceless perspective. Reading this book is "the right choice."

(All views presented in this article are the author's)

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