Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Article 9 – Planned vs Unplanned Careers; which is better?

By | Prabodh Sirur | Vice President – HR at Manipal Technologies Ltd. 

I have got two stories to share; The first one is about Jogi and the other is about Suki. You decide where you belong.

Jogi was a planner, Suki went by his heart.

When Jogi was 26, he decided that he will be a CEO by 40 and will leave the job by 50. Suki did not have such long term plan.

This is how their careers progressed.


One rule Jogi had for him was that he would never take a promotion but move to a different role every time a promotion was offered. He was an MBA in Finance and had joined a company in the finance department. He worked hard and studied hard to know everything about Finance. He especially studied mergers and acquisitions.

After two years, when he was offered a promotion, he asked to be moved to the commercial wing. He wanted to make his hands dirty in contracting. Fortunately, his CFO agreed because the commercial function was also under him. Jogi worked hard and spent hours to study the legal nuances in contracting.

After two years, Jogi moved to marketing and learnt to manage and build brands. Then he moved to Account management for a couple of years and learnt Client relationships (and created his own style of delighting customers). Now only six years were left to reach the top. He had to think hard what he should do next to meet his goal.

He then asked his seniors to let him work in Human Resources. The seniors were aware of this young man’s hunger and were supportive.

Thereafter he took a jump to a new company to head the strategy function of the company. He got to study and implement Blue Ocean there. His previous marketing experience helped.

He then had an opportunity to work with a turnaround CEO which he accepted. In the next two years, he was ready to take up the big challenge. But it was difficult to find a CEO role at that time for such a young guy in India. He was already watching the global scene to move as a CEO. He was hobnobbing with head hunters for his next jump.

AND THEN Jogi was picked up to become a CEO in the Middle East. Jogi had achieved his first dream of becoming a CEO by 40. It was a focused journey. It was a journey of a determined young man always focussed on the dreamline that he set for himself.

As planned, Jogi left his CEO job at 50.

I won’t go into the details of his role as a CEO: I remember to have read a lot about his successes in the newspapers. I forget the details.

What I admired was his focus on preparing himself for his post-50 journey. He mastered the art of communicating and the art of coaching and mentoring his people; He successfully transformed them into great achievers.

Jogi is now busy manufacturing future CEOs; he is a master coach!


Let me now come to Suki. Suki never planned his career; he took each day as it came.

He was a software engineer and was posted in Japan. After two years, he felt like taking a break to study philosophy.

Suki took the break (I think he joined the Art of Living commune). After a year, the young man had enough of spirituality so he took up a job in Singapore. After a while, he felt like studying management and left his job to do a two-year stint of management study.

Suki had already worked in Japan in the past; so without much difficulty, he got a consulting job there. He worked there for a decade, saved enough to leave the corporate world.

Suki was 40 when he left for India, of the same age when Jogi became a CEO.

Suki is not working for any company now, yet his hands are full.

He has a small piece of land where he practices some Japanese way of cropping, he teaches entrepreneurship in a college, he is doing his Ph.D. on some topic, he helps his friend in a start-up, he goes on Himalayan treks when he has spare time (I don’t know when he has this spare time). I now forget what else he does. Can’t go and ask him; Suki is too busy to respond!


Two lives of two different people. Yet, there is something common in them.

Both have been great risk takers.

Both nurtured confidence in them. They were never afraid of the loss of a job.

One more thing that I found common in them is their strong need to contribute to the world. They took all these risks so that, one day, they could serve others, make the world a better place.


My question to you is – which road do we want to take, the Jogi way or the Suki way? Either way, you will succeed! Go ahead with your dream. Go kiss the world, as Bagchi would say.


Postscript: Here is a painting from an Impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834–1917), to remind us that innovation/challenging the status quo are what make us different.

Degas was one of the core members of the Impressionist painters’ group. He is known for the studies of ballerinas and nudes. At least half of his paintings are about dance.

I have picked up this one which is outside of his forte. This painting called Bateau De Peche A L’Entree Du Port De Dives was painted in circa 1869.

Reprinted with permission & originally published by Prabodh at

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