Career in Transition

I’m approaching 15th anniversary of my more or less successful career. I have changed four companies, six or seven different positions, had business trips in more than thirty countries, worked in nine markets, met thousands of interesting people and made some valuable friendships. Did my best for some amazing teams, changed jobs when I thought that I can’t or don’t want to contribute anymore. Some of those that I hired and coached as beginners already have big careers. So far so good.

Either because I’m getting old (37 this year) or because I’m getting emotional (or both), I started thinking a bit more than before about my professional life, trying to figure out where I stand today and where to go in the future. Not where in the sense of which industry or company, but where in the sense of my heart and mind. One word started to pop up a lot in my mind – transition. Although a notorious word for East Europe countries, it is in my opinion the key word that explains many things that business professionals are going through in this region. Here are five specifics of having a career in transition times and countries. There is probably many more that I can write about in the future posts.

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  1. Whatever you do, it will never be that significant in terms of volumes or profits. You have to learn how to live as a less important person (LIP) if you work for multinational companies. This may vary only in cases of IT ventures that work from East Europe for other markets. This is not unfair. It’s logical. But sometimes, hard to swallow.
  2. You will never earn big money because no one has rational reason to pay you millions. This will lead you to a fact that you can sustain decent above average life standard but you will never be able to buy your freedom like executives from rich markets can after 15 or 20 years. So you have to find other ways to sustain your sanity. You can be still fairly young but quite tired and without many real alternatives.
  3. You can’t accept western capitalism even if you work in such environment for ages. You are too emotional. It’s personal even when it’s not. You were raised in communism, went through wars, saw revolutions, participated in riots and you can’t buy corporate bullshit. At least not fully and to the end.
  4. You can’t find proper work-life balance. Either you work like crazy and you earn good money (again – East Europe good) or you work less but you hardly survive. In some cases you even work like crazy and hardly survive. You pay a lot for a bunch of travels because than you have a feeling that it’s worth it. You buy expensive goods to feel better.
  5. You had couple of good bosses from abroad. And you were lucky to learn a lot from them. But for sure you had a couple of 3rd class managers from western countries that multinationals didn’t know what to do with. They sent them to transition countries because whatever they do here it doesn’t matter. This is hard one to survive.

There are also some good things in having career in transition. I will think about them for my next post. Cheers!

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