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Help Tarun!!!

I am a 24-year-old engineer with a specialisation in Electrical Engineering and work experience of just over an year. I am keen on doing an MBA in Finance, but am worried whether I'd be able to succeed in the financial domain, since the field is filled with CA and ICWA pros. Instead of jumping directly from a tech background to a finance future, should I try my hand at marketing, the logical next step for BEs? Or should I opt for an MBA along with a CFA? Please advice.

Companies do have a predeliction for CAs when it comes to the accounting and finance functions, but MBAs in Finance are not far behind. A CFA with an MBA may prove useful if you are going to look for a job in the financial- services domain. Having said that, you do not need to decide on your specialisation yet. The first year curriculum in the MBA programme includes all subjects and will give you a flavour of different disciplines within management. You could then decide which field appeals to you. Bear in mind that an engineering background is suited for both marketing and finance functions. Another option is to specialise in operations management or systems. Here your technical skills will be a plus.

I am a Computer Science engineer, fresh out of college, and on the lookout for a job. And as you know, the slowdown in the US economy compounded by the dotcom bust is hurting the chances of freshers like me. Do you think it would be wise for me to jump into biotechnology, the new darling of the markets?

A quantum jump into biotech won't be that easy. You would have to start all over again, and consequently, you would have to put off your plans of immediate employment. Sure you can change fields, but don't just run behind fads. Sit down and think where you see yourself in the long term and then opt for a path which would get you there swiftly and safely. Also, realise that there are not too many firms in the country dabbling in real biotechnology at the moment. So you might not find the going too good.

I am a 35-year-old General Manager in a consumer goods company. An alumni of IIM-C, I had started off with the same company as a management trainee, and am pretty happy with the going-I have been identified as a high- potential professional and share a good relationship with my seniors. But now, I've been offered the post of Vice-President (Marketing) in an insurance company. In my current company it will take at least 3-4 more years to reach that level. The pay on offer is also significantly higher. What do you suggest?

It is a good opportunity that you have before you, probably ''a heads you win, tails you don't lose anything'' situation. Let us assume you take up this offer. The worst case scenario could be that the new job doesn't work out the way you wanted it to. Even then, you can always get back to FMCG or jump to another insurance/ services/ marketing company. The opportunity will give you the chance to gain experience in a different industry. It will also expose you to how the world works, since you have been a one-company-man throughout. Besides, private sector insurance is growing fast in India, so it is relatively safe to take the risk. Having said that, do some research on the kind of work involved and the company's culture. Be warned that the start-up situation at the new insurance firm could be pretty different from your current company's environment.

An engineer with a post-graduate diploma from Indira Gandhi National Open University, I am a 44 year-old middle-level manager in a public sector power major. I have been working here for more than 21 years, and earn around Rs 35,000 per month. But I am feeling bored and desperately need a change. Besides, if I take advantage of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) my company is offering today, I will get more than Rs10 lakh in one go. Where and how do you think I should apply? What kind of career opportunities exist for someone like me?

If you straightaway invest your Rs 10 lakhs in a fixed deposit scheme, you will get 10 per cent or Rs 9,000 per month. That means you have to be earning a pretty good sum to make up the balance. Also you have probably not counted perquisites like free housing that are typically part of the overall compensation at PSU power companies. There are always opportunities, but taking into consideration your age and background they may not be easily available. I would advise you to first do a serious search for a job and then opt for the VRS.

Tarun Sheth, the senior consultant at the Mumbai-based recruitment and training consultancy firm, Shilputsi, addresses your career concerns every fortnight. Write to Help,Tarun!!! C/O Business Today, F-26, Connaught Place, New Delhi-1.


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