By Mridula Kashyap
Deepak Dogra, Director, Asia Programs Operations, Room to Read, and also a board member at Arthan visited our office to talk to our team about navigating careers in the 21st century.
These days, entering the social sector no longer happens by accident for most. With increasing awareness about the opportunities as well as the evolution of the sector, many are consciously looking to move into jobs that allow them to work, but with a purpose.
As an organisation with many young professionals starting out their careers and looking to remain in the social impact space, we invited Deepak Dogra, Director, Asia Programs Operations at Room to Read to talk to our team about his journey into the sector and his learnings along the way.
Having started out as a teacher, Deepak quickly developed an interest in the field of education. Calling it a serendipitous move, he says that he hadn’t planned on entering the development sector. “Early experiences in life allowed me to know more about the sector, and joining the nonprofit world after my MBA was, honestly, an experiment!” says Deepak. Talking about working in the social sector and his experience currently leading operations across 9 cities in Asia at Room to Read, he describes it as a point of intersection between the government, the private sector and the society where one can gauge the impact of the efforts being put in.
“Learnings, they are what you tell yourself. A dialogue with the self, if you will. It is what you take from each experience”, says Deepak. So, we asked ourselves what we learnt to be able to share the key takeaways from the day.
What did we learn from this session?
1. Learn to deal with uncertainties
We have often been told of the ever-changing ways of this life. And so, it helps if one learns to deal with uncertainties, especially when it comes to working in a sector where expecting the unexpected seems to be a norm. Things change, and they change fast. So you better learn to, too!
2. The power of working with people and teams is tremendous
Working with teams really teaches us a lot. Yes, apart from the usual patience and so on, it also helps us understand how efforts being put in by someone else can help us grow. So remember, always give back and pay it forward! Look out for people who share the same values as you and believe in the same causes as you do – they support you, and help you grow.
3. Develop the ability to create solutions
Being solution-oriented with a problem-solving bent of mind goes a long way. And when you work with that attitude, solutions will be easy to come by.
4. Good mentors are important
Having someone who knows when to push you; someone who won’t be judgemental of you can be very enabling. If you can find someone or even more than one person like that, whether or not they have a lot of experience, hold on to them!
5. Ask yourself: Will I be happy doing this?
It is important to enjoy what you are doing and be happy doing it. Being honest with what makes you truly happy will help guide you in the direction that works for you. Just remember to give your 100% to whatever you do.
6. Attitude matters
You can always acquire new skills, learn on the job. But, you need to have an attitude of willingness to learn to be able to do that. Your learning is your responsibility. So stay curious, ask questions, read, interact, be open to feedback and absorb like a sponge!
7. The length and breadth of your experience – both matter
Developing an authority over one subject definitely has its merits. But, in today’s times, your knowledge of other aspects matters a lot too. Be an expert in your domain, but a generalist in all others – how else will you be able to assess and understand the varying other aspects that affect work!
And finally, in times of remote working,
8. Build relationships, work will follow
The funny thing about human beings is that they rise or fall to meet your expectations. And times when remote working becomes more important than ever, work on building a bedrock of faith and trust with your teams. Sure, there are different strokes for different folks, but in the end, whether you or your teamwork remotely or not won’t matter. Create safe spaces to make mistakes; strengthen relationships. ‘Cos as Deepak puts it, work is the by-product of the relationships you have!