Career change? Be focused

Radhika, Class of 2007, talks about her exchange stint in HEC Paris, and making a career change post-MBA.

When I decided to pursue an MBA it was primarily to enable a career change, a move from Information Technology to Consumer Marketing. This was just a gut feeling though, something based on my passion for creativity, communications and the idea of “selling-ideas”. I knew that without hands-on experience in Marketing it was impossible to make a career-change unless I was willing to start from scratch. Being realistic I obviously did not want to start at the bottom again, compromising the 4+ years of work experience I had.

And so when I made it to the MBA programme at NUS Business School, I was intent upon specialising in Marketing. Everything I did in my two years at NUS was in one way or another driven by my goal to make this shift possible.

The best decision was to take advantage of the exchange programme at HEC, Paris. Not an easy decision, mind you, considering the additional investment required. HEC had a specialised track for Marketing which covered a lot of interesting electives as well as a core Marketing track around New Product Design & Development. Some due diligence must be done though and so I contacted some of the students who had been through it. Almost everyone had great things to say about the curriculum, methodology and the professors at HEC and today I can vouch for it too.

So the idea of my future dream role was shaped while I was in Paris, exploring the extensive world of Marketing. On hindsight I realise how important it was for me to define that perfect role so that when the day came and I was sitting in front of the interviewers at OCBC Bank, I could spell it out and find the right fit.

Now let me clarify that working for a Bank was definitely not something on my mind. I mean I could imagine going back to the Information Technology industry but not a Bank, not the financial industry for godssake! That’s how much I hated banks.

But as a career-changer I had my feet on the ground and was very keenly aware of my options. Every time I applied for a role, I knew what were the odds of getting a favourable response. Consumer Goods is of course a dream industry for Marketing wannabes but considering my background and age, I knew I was not their ideal candidate. So regardless of industry I kept looking for the right role. I gave almost every industry a chance, taking “We wish you luck” letters in my stride.

So even when OCBC Bank (a Bank!) came on campus I went for their career-talk and came out feeling slightly motivated. This is what caught my fancy and respect for the company- “We recognise that there are talents from outside the

banking industry and we pride ourselves in having welcomed people from diverse backgrounds into the programme”

Bingo! For more than 2 years now I’ve been working at OCBC Bank in a Strategic Marketing team for the Premier Banking segment and it has been a great learning curve.

If you have come so far, it might seem like a great bollywood story where things just come together and everyone lives happily ever after, but of course in reality it was a great struggle. Without spelling out what I might have done right or wrong, I’m sure my journey could provide guidance to those who have a similar journey ahead of them.

As a potential career-changer, above all, an MBA gives you the skills, the exposure, the network and the time (22 months in my case) to figure out where you want to be and what you want to do.

Radhika Z
Class of 2007