Lately, I have been busy arranging and taking interviews of a whole bunch of fresh graduates for my firm. Considering the business is advertising and the firm being Ogilvy & Mather; I genuinely had expected a lot of good buzz from the "graduate market". It wasn't too far-fetched an expectation, since almost all of Hollywood has in one way or the other pictured ad-mans to be the coolest, most sought-after and playful professionals right after George Clooney in any role (i.e. negotiator or thief) and Brad Pitt as a renegade (fight club, troy, kalifornia etc.). Even in our fashion, go to India which has colorful advertising personalities hitting the headlines quite regularly (Prasoon Joshi - Lagaan, Balki - Cheeni Kum and the critically acclaimed Rahul Bose; all hail from advertising). But when it comes to Bangladesh, just as many other "brainiac" industries; advertising is always referred to an industry in its nascent phase. Saying this, I guess it is very clear to the wandering mind how hard it is to recruit good talents for the industry.
Young people competing in the 'graduate market' today. Photo: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
At the beginning of my career in advertising (which was not so long ago), I was told by one of my earliest mentors in this industry that career is like a race, either you sprint start and get juiced out in the middle of it or you could run a marathon and live up to the Aesop's fable of "the hare and the tortoise." In both ways, it is a race and running is imperative and there is no easy way out but its not only about raw power and brute strength either. The smartness lies with the "mode" you choose and also how effectively you make the most of the path chosen. Philosophies aside, it is very uncommon in today's youth to be accredited for being a marathon runner. For there is no prize for starting small to make it big one day, but only to start big to be the biggest in no time. Sadly, we fail to realize, as Mr. Paul Arden rightly puts, "It's not how good you are, it is how good you want to be." The word "potential" is more common in people than the word "successful" and one doesn't have to dig too deep to figure out why. The great talent-grabbers of the past -- British American Tobacco, Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser and Standard Chartered are still there at the top of the food chain. But it is the more hyena-like newcomers who have actually redefined the job prospects of a newbie. Upcoming and promising local banks (Brac Bank, EBL, Dhaka Bank), conglomerates (ACI, Rahimafrooz), communications superpowers (GP, Blink, Warid/Airtel, Qubee) are all who operate in the upper-mid food chain and consume the most of talents. I am no communist, nor do I see myself resenting for not starting in any of the companies mentioned above, but I am pragmatic and in no way can I justify some of the absurdist amounts that I hear of as "starting/basic package."
The United States of America, the great capitalist superpower, the mother of dreamlands, the country which sets the benchmark for these "Martian" salaries has a PPP (per capita GDP) of $47,123 and a minimum average MBA starting salary of $73,000 (the least a MBA graduate would start with). Makes sense; considering "ivy league" is a word coined by them and them alone, and almost 90 percent (figuratively) of the world's top 500 universities are from mainland USA. Interestingly now, if we look at Bangladesh, a developing country from the third world with a meager PPP of $1,565 (that to, after consecutive years of near-to double digit GDP growth), average starting salary for a decent MBA graduate is in and around the region of $5000 (taking in reference the average starting salaries posted in recruitment ads). While in the US, MBA grads enjoy a nearly 1.5 times valuation (as opposed to the general mass), it is astoundingly 3.2 times for a Bangladeshi MBA. And just to add more juice to the irony, no Bangladeshi university even features in the Top 500 and there is no sign of one making into that list anytime in the near future.
Its really good to be on the receiving end of such astronomic sums at the month's end and I don't see any harm in watching these children become complacent over time. It is not because they are right in doing so, but because in the rat-race of hiring the best talents, we have actually gone beyond the logical sums that rightly valuate a fresher's talent and capacity to contribute to the hiring organisation. In the end, these companies do perhaps get the best of the best, but only to lose them in a few years for a sweeter deal to a competitor. This chain of offering better to get the best is indeed never-ending (only to the point when one becomes too expensive to maintain or simply, just redundant). The money we make makes a lot of difference in our daily lives (after all, that's why we work to begin with) but we fail to realise that money cannot be the ultimate decisive factor in choosing careers. Religious teacher, doctors, firefighters, teachers and police make the top half of the "most satisfying occupation" list in US. And when you wonder how these occupations would actually suit in Bangladesh terms, all you are left with is a grim expression.
All said and done, there will always be a disparity between the highest paying jobs and the most satisfying ones. It is for us to determine for ourselves which suits us the best, and not only that pays the best. A career is not about how fast you start the race, but how high you actually finish it. And finally to end it, I look back on the apt words of Baz Luhrmann from the song "Sunscreen", "…the race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself".
DID YOU KNOW?
At the age of only 17, Ada, world's first programmer, was introduced to Mary Somerville, a remarkable woman who translated LaPlace's works into English, and whose texts were used at Cambridge. Though Mrs Somerville encouraged
Ada in her mathematical studies, she also attempted to put mathematics and technology into an appropriate human context! It was at a dinner party at Mrs Somerville's that Ada heard in November, 1834, Babbage's ideas for a new calculating engine, the Analytical Engine. He conjectured: what if a calculating engine could not only foresee but could act on that foresight. Ada was touched by the "universality of his ideas". Hardly anyone else was!
Information source: Internet.