Getting Fired and Finding My Best Job Ever
Accepting the Inevitable to Set My Own Agenda
Six years into my first job, in New Delhi, India, I was bored and looking for a change. So I answered an advertisement and got myself a job as marketing manager in a small private company. I seemed to do really well – my boss had only one problem with me. He kept telling me my predecessor in the job had quit to set up his own business and asking me if I had similar plans. In hindsight, I should have sensed his insecurity – but I did not. In fact, I must have fed this insecurity by insisting on learning everything about the products I was marketing!
Anyhow, I went into work one morning and learnt I had been fired! No explanation, nothing. Since I was still on probation and we were still a couple of decades away from performance reviews and discussions, there was not much I could do about it. The only thing I insisted on was meeting the boss and having him tell me himself that he had sacked me – he had wanted me to hear it from his assistant.
Obviously, I was shocked. But I did not see any point in brooding on what had happened. Instead, I decided my next job would be something I really wanted rather than simply a “good fit” based on a newspaper advertisement and my matching skills set.
I had always wanted to work for a development agency. Back in those pre-Internet days, I took hold of the third volume of the phone book to look up the addresses of all United Nations agencies in the city and started to write out applications to each of them, expressing my interest in handling their public information efforts. None of them had posted any advertisements, but I decided to take a chance on what I really wanted to do next.
I did not ignore the advertisements entirely, finding two in the newspapers over the next few days that interested me. I applied for those too. Within a week, I had job offers from both companies. Even more excitingly, I received a call from a UN agency – the World Food Programme.
The Country Director was looking for help with both information and training. Although I had applied only for a job in information, he was convinced I could handle both. I agreed to join as WFP’s Information Officer in India, but give the training job a shot as well.
It turned out to be the best job I ever had! Fulfilling, exciting, with many opportunities to learn as well as to use my existing skills, and well paid to boot. I ended up managing the agency’s public information, training and gender development work in India. The information part of the work developed into a regional South Asia job. Of all the corporate jobs I have held, it turned out to be the most satisfying, even though not the highest paid. It is surpassed only by what I do now, which I see more as a calling than work.
I often tell this story as part of my talks and training workshops on embracing change. It is only when we accept the inevitable that we can actually gain some power over the situation and set our own agenda.
Pamposh Dhar is the founder of the Terataii Centre, where she offers Reiki, mindfulness, counselling and coaching. https://terataii.com.sg