Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Portfolio Living: A Personal Experience

This is my first "autobiographical" blog entry. So, Dear Reader, you are forewarned!

About a year ago, I gave up what was my fourth job in 7 years, to resume my life as an independent professional.  Each job was radically different from the other. First, I was Director of a KPO/ BPO company with responsibilities mainly restricted to the D in R&D. I dumbed down processes so that both, scale and quality could be managed with lesser experienced or skilled people. I could almost call myself a software professional then. The next job was that of a full-time Professor in a B-School in Mumbai. The third was with the training unit of a large conglomerate, organising and delivering high quality, expensive training programmes in Finance for all levels of finance managers upto the CFO level. The last was as Dean of a B-School, with the job consisting mainly of mentoring and lecturing. My first job came at the end of a long 16-year innings as a practising Chartered Accountant. Here too, I did several things besides the bread-and-butter work of tax advisory and filings. I was, at various times, author, visiting faculty at B-Schools, editor, banker, software product developer, and (on rare occasions) public speaker. 

When I started my second innings as an independent professional, I have not kept myself bound by the shackles of a Certificate of Practice as a Chartered Accountant, as I don't audit, attest or represent anybody before any authority. I landed a near-full-time assignment with an old mentor, and decided to pursue studies in the field of Intellectual Property Rights. I also organised my life such that I spent almost no time on commuting. I therefore get 4 hours extra everyday compare to people who commute to the other end of Mumbai city, all the better to pursue varied interests outside of work, and more intellectual stimulation too.

In scarcely a year, I found myself getting involved in several small as well as long-range assignments or projects, all using spare time outside of a normal working day. Many of these projects have little earning or financial potential, like making mind-maps of various theoretical topics in the CA syllabus for aiding my son's learning, building a family tree, helping create and raise funds for a school alumni network, etc.. They were satisfying, nevertheless. I also did (and still do, whenever I get an opportunity) several small "promotional" or "concept-selling" appearances at various fora, selling the concept of greater awareness of IPR among the community of corporate managers. I am also working simultaneously on two distinct research projects in the field of IPR. As a result, my work content on any day is refreshingly varied though all the variation is during the "after-hours".

Recently, I met a dear friend (and former colleague) who has equally eclectic interests as mine, but has scholastic credentials much better than mine, (Fulbright scholar and all that). In fact, I have such a high opinion of his capabilities that I once told him in all seriousness that he could be the next Vir Sanghvi or Karan Thapar in the world of television news, if only he allowed himself the luxury of a career change. When he asked what I was upto, and I told him all the small and big things that I am engaging in nowadays, he remarked that I had transitioned to a portfolio life. I asked him what he meant by it, and then he told me about a book called The Elephant and the Flea by Charles Handy. The next day, I googled "Portfolio Living Handy" and got this and this. And discovered that my new way of life indeed had a name: Portfolio Living. Apparently, there are many, many people living this way (I am not a freak!) and their tribe is increasing everyday. Have been sleeping well since.:-)


  1. Rajesh - Fantastic! Have always loved the virgin path you have taken and truly picked something 'outside the box'. I have always admired the unique you and have relished seeing you enjoy what you do. Your blog posts are great, reflect your intellect and of course the depth of knowledge in your writing. Keep up the good work and continue to do what you do, so well! - Madan Manjeshwar

  2. You are answerable only to yourself, and you do not give the 'world' the right to judge you. Once you are willing to live by the above rule. Portfolio living ..the author says 'there are many things we do - some we MUST (make ur bed), some we MUST (we may not, but there is no force - spending time with family, doing social service), some we MUST DO (to earn money, but we may not like it) and some we MAY do (but we will, because we love it). If the last 2 can be merged, life is great.

    Rajesh - you should right about P.L, prioritisation of time and money. I have explored, but never written about it.