Decision Journal : Job Switch

Earlier I had talked about my career going nowhere in a few posts here, here and here. Now I have finally been presented with an opportunity and I have resigned from my current job. I am optimistic about the new job (otherwise why would I have chosen it) but I am also careful not to have too high hopes as I have seen that greener grass on the other side can turn yellow few years down the road or sometimes even as soon as you step on it.

I had a long discussion with my closest friend about taking leaps of faiths, regrets and future not turning out how one hoped it would (I will right the next post on the discussion), and then I came across this article How to Improve Decision Making in Your Organization which suggests making a decision journal:

Whenever you’re making a decision of consequence, take a moment to think; Write down the relevant variables that will govern the outcome, what you expect to happen, and why you expect it to happen. (Optionally you can add how you feel about the decision and your confidence level in the outcome you expect.)

A journal of this nature will reduce hindsight bias and give you accurate and honest feedback.

It’ll also help you distinguish between when you’re right for the wrong reasons and when you’re wrong for the right reasons.

If you’re anything like me, one thing that you’ll discover is that, on the few occasions when you’re right, it’s often for the wrong reasons.

I have already resigned a week ago but I think the variables that nudged me in this direction as still fresh in my mind. It will also help me to make an improved decision when next time I am presented with similar opportunity.

The opportunity

Title:                  One step down

Salary:               Slightly above

Organization:      Reputed, well established financial institution

The Positives

  • Small department reporting directly to CEO
    • Not a huge hierarchy at the moment. It means unless someone is sandwiched in between, the communication channel with the CEO will be direct and I will get due credit if I do good work
  • Learning new stuff
    • Potential of learning lots of challenging new work in international investments, syndications and debt capital markets something I wanted to do for a long time but wasn’t able to do
    • Whereas my current job promises my lot of relaxation, the greatest fear I have is that my mind is rusting. If god forbid I get fired from this position (which seems not improbable due to recent warning made by my superior explained further in glass ceiling point below) I will have a hard time landing a new job because I have not added much to my skillset in past 5 years
    • Secondly, my work in past few years has been in restructuring and any good opportunities that present themselves nowadays are asking for people with new investment experience. If I accept this position, I will get the requisite exposure of new investment which is so sought out during boom times.
  • New financial institution does not have a heavy baggage like my present employer
    • The new employer that I am joining is a proper bank whereas currently I work for an investment company_a sector which has received lot of flak in the crisis years. On the other hand the bank was established after the crisis and hence does not have a stigma of huge losses, restructuring or bail out attached with it thus giving me the opportunity to make a clean break.
  • The institutions has funds as well as willingness to deploy those funds
    • Though we talk about some funds coming available in my current job (I was responsible for managing those assets and generating those funds) however those are not huge funds and will be utilized in maximum two real estate investments. After that it will be back to monitoring existing investments. Whereas the new organization not only has available liquidity to invest but is also investing in multiple sectors (not just real estate) thus allowing me to add to diversify my skillset and add to my CV.
  • Istikhara
    • Unlike other people I don’t see signs in Istikhara. I just pray while deciding to make the decision or during the interview phase for example and if everything pans out in the end and my mind is inclined in that direction I take the decision. Even if the consequences doesn’t play out as I hoped they would, but since I did the Istikhara I believe that I am better off. Who knows something worse might have happened if I had not taken the decision. Life has ups and downs and nobody knows the future. Having done the istikhara makes me feel better (not always but most of the times) when I am going through a rough patch down the path in the decision I have taken.

The Negatives

  • May be a glass ceiling for expats
    • The way my superior at the current position told me couple of months ago, he was hinting that I have already surpassed a glass ceiling as he can’t deliver what he promised me 2 years ago for sticking with him and lot of locals in the office have their eyes on my office room
  • Politics
    • This is really a disadvantage. If there is politics in my current organization, I am really immune to it for now. Whereas in the new place not only there is “Egyptian mafia” in the Accounts department but also lot of pressure from Government as well as locals on the CEO to hire locals and push out expats.
  • No increase in salary and missing out on Bonus
    • The elusive bonus that was supposed to be given to us in March 2013 and its December 2013 and it still hasn’t been announced due to some issues with Board of Director’s compensation and reluctance of parent company.
    • And its my belief that any Rizq that Allah has written for me, I will get it either Halal way or Haram way or while I am doing challenging assignment or while I am miserable in my job browsing the internet the whole day.
  • CEO dependent
    • I have a track record in my current position, however, in my new organization my growth, development and even if I get to stay depends on CEO as he is involved in nitty-gritty of the bank. Moreover, if he leaves and in his place a new CEO comes, he may not be interested in taking the same path to growth as earlier CEO has taken and might bring in his blue eyed boys to run the show and sidelining me.
  • One step down in job title
    • When I joined my current organization, I had taken a step down in my career as well as salary. I was getting into the most vibrant sector before the crisis and I also wanted to get out of corporate back office finance to the front office world of investment. Unfortunately, days after my joining the new company, Lehman Brothers collapsed and it has been an uphill struggle since then to recover my title as well as my earlier salary (during this time I have grown, my family size has increased etc). Now after 5 years, I am moving to another job with stars in my eyes (not really, after the last 5 years, I am what you call in financial BS “cautiously optimistic”) with another step down. I had a long discussion with the CEO of my prospective employer over the titles but he just wouldn’t budge saying that if he moves to Citibank, he will not be made CEO as he is coming from a smaller financial institution and he might join them as VP or SVP etc. I impressed upon him that the title he is offering me is entry level (it wasn’t but it makes my case stronger) and anywhere you go no one will come at this title. I am happy to say that after 45 minutes of discussion and to and fro, though I still didn’t get what I sought but he agreed to nudge me one position upwards. I like to think of this step down as “investment in my career” as I mentioned in my earlier post Karma is a bitch.

The Conclusion

The idea of a journal is to help one decide what decision to take and be a useful reference for future when hindsight is 20-20. Since I resigned a week ago, I am highlighting here the variables I considered in making a decision. If one looks at it lengthwise, the negatives are larger than positive implying that I have allotted higher weight to positive factors.

I assigned weights to all the listed points initially: +100 divided equally amount positives and -100 divided equally amongst negatives. Then I changed the weights relative to each other based on how I subjectively felt about them when I took the decision.

  • Small department                    +20
  • Learning new stuff                   +50
  • New financial institution           +30
  • Have funds                             +40
  • Istikhara                                +50
  • Glass ceiling                          -20
  • Politics                                  -20
  • Missing out on bonus              -10
  • CEO dependent                      -40
  • One step down                       -40
  • NET                                      +60

Weight allocations are bit arbitrary and not normalized but this is my first attempt and it is as much subjective (or may be more) as it is objective. The reason I have allocated higher weight to “one step down” is as it hurt me the most and this is the most I negotiated when I accepted the job offer.

Only Allah knows the future. All that man can do is to strive with hard work and dedication, analyze his options if and when they become available as best as he can and take decisions that he believes are best under the circumstances. Finally, he must pray that Allah accepts his struggles and make the future full of prosperity for him.

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