Life and second careers begin @ 40

| Updated on: Jul 17, 2011
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Some time last year, 45-year-old Mr Vishwadeep Kuila was in a nervous bind. He had just finished an assignment as CEO of Oriental Cuisines, which owns brands such as Zara and Planet Yumm, where he was appointed by the PE fund which had taken a stake in the hospitality company. After long stints in advertising with Mudra and as marketing head for pen-maker Reynolds, this IIM-A grad wanted to strike out on his own.

But, for Mr Kuila it was a gut-wrenching decision: trade in the security and perks of corporate life to being on his own. Says he: “I think everybody has got an entrepreneur hidden in him somewhere. I had toyed with the idea of being on my own for the last 10 years, but it takes more than guts to convince the family and oneself that one has to start from scratch.”

Start he did, setting up Brand Vectors, an outsourced marketing consultancy, in June 2010. Small and mid-sized organisations cannot, he says, afford the cost of experienced marketing heads and presented an opportunity for part-time chief marketing officers. “A lot of organisations get stuck in the brand inputs and desperately look for fresh thinking. The only difference that I decided to bring from conventional consulting was that we execute and don't just advice,” elaborates Mr Kuila.

Mr Kuila's isn't a stray example. Many 40-somethings are quitting corporate life and seeking out second careers in consulting which also gives them time to indulge in pet passions in life. The old paradigm of becoming a ‘consultant' after retiring from one's job, has irrevocably changed.

Mr Harish Devarajan, 48, who himself quit a couple of years ago as HR head of Hindustan Unilever, to set up PeopleUnlimited, a leadership development and organisation performance consultancy, says he finds more people talking to him about striking out on their own.

“But, if I chat with ten, only two are ready to take the plunge. Corporate sector pays a lot but you must be willing to take the cut. Financial security is a big hurdle; there's an element of risk and then there's the entire thing of being in a company and the infrastructure it offers; now you need to do everything yourself.”

But, that didn't deter Ms Richa Arora who quit as Britannia's head of marketing to set up Five by Six Consulting couple of years ago.

Says she, “People are overcoming a mental block — of letting go the protective umbrella of a corporate. So the “younger” consultants of today are not looking at consulting as a retirement option, but as an alternate career where they put their prime thinking years to good use.”

Mr Harish says a lot has changed in the environment today and even the very model of work has transformed.

“Earlier, everything had to be done in-house, now many things are outsourced, from corporate communication to HR, so there are a lot of consulting opportunities. Also, a lot of professionalism has come in and companies, especially smaller ones, know it's ok to partner with outsiders.” Moreover, with organisation structures becoming flatter, younger people are rising to senior positions very early and then willing to look at a “second innings.”

Published on March 10, 2018

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