Q: Why do you say so?
A: My salary in the first 8 years went up only marginally. I could not save enough and also, I had thought that I had a 'permanent' job, so I need not worry about 'what will I do if I lose my job'. I could never imagine losing a job because of economic slowdown and not because of my performance. That was January 2002.
Q: Can you brief on what happened between January 2003 and 2009.
A: Well, I had learnt my lessons of being 'company loyal' and not 'money earning and saving loyal'. But then you can save enough only when you earn enough. So I shifted my loyalty towards money making and saving – I changed 8 jobs in 6 years assuring all my interviewers about my stability.
Q: So you lied to your interviewers; you had already planned to change the job for which you were being interviewed on a particular day?
A: Yes, you can change jobs only when the market is up and companies are hiring. You tell me – can I get a job now because of the slowdown? No. So one should change jobs for higher salaries only when the market is up because that is the only time when companies hire and can afford the expected salaries.
Q: What have you gained by doing such things?
A: That's the question I was waiting for. In Jan 2003, I had a fixed salary (without variables) of say Rs. X p.a. In January 2009, my salary was 8X. So assuming my salary was Rs.3 lakh p.a. in Jan 2003, my last drawn salary in Jan 2009 was Rs.24 lakh p.a. (without variable). I never bothered about variable as I had no intention to stay for 1 year and go through the appraisal process to wait for the company to give me a hike.
Q: So you decided on your own hike?
A: Yes, in 2003, I could see the slowdown coming again in future like it had happened in 2001-02. Though I was not sure by when the next slowdown would come, I was pretty sure I wanted a 'debt-free' life before being laid off again. So I planned my hike targets on a yearly basis without waiting for the year to complete.
Q: So are you debt-free now?
A: Yes, I earned so much by virtue of job changes for money and spent so little that today I have a loan free 2 BR flat (1200 sq. feet) plus a loan free big car without bothering about any EMIs. I am laid off too but I do not complain at all. If I have laid off companies for money, it is OK if a company lays me off because of lack of money.
Q: Who is complaining?
A: All those guys who are not getting a job to pay their EMIs off are complaining. They had made fun of me saying I am a job hopper and do not have any company loyalty. Now I ask them what they gained by their company loyalty; they too are laid off like me and pass comments to me – why will you bother about us, you are already debt-free. They were still in the bracket of 12-14 lakh p.a. when they were laid off.
Q: What is your advice to professionals?
A: Like Narayan Murthy had said – love your job and not your company because you never know when your company will stop loving you. In the same lines, love yourself and your family needs more than the company's needs. Companies can keep coming and going; family will always remain the same. Make money for yourself first and simultaneously make money for the company, not the other way around.
Q: What is your biggest pain point with companies?
A: When a company does well, its CEO etc will address the entire company saying, 'well done guys, it is YOUR company, keep up the hard work, I am with you." But when the slowdown happens and the company does not do so well, the same CEO Etc will say, "It is MY company and to save the company, I have to take tough decisions including asking people to go." So think about your financial stability first; when you get laid off, your kids will complain to you and not your boss.