Making My Decision
Many of you have asked me what I’ve been doing, and what I’m going to be doing next: I hope this will provide the answer!
WHAT AM I DOING? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? HAVE I LOST MY MIND?
These may seem familiar, but history does repeat itself. These questions crossed my mind again when I decided to stay on at Babajob in Bangalore, my placement for the Clinton Fellowship for Service in India, rather than return to New York — a city that felt just like home since 2008. Some of my closest friends even asked me if I really knew what I was doing.
What is Babajob? What did I do during the Fellowship?
As a reminder, Babajob is India’s largest online and mobile job portal for blue-collar workers (more detail here). I thoroughly enjoyed being part of a rapidly growing start-up that was assisting Indians in the informal sector find better jobs, and it was a pleasure helping the CEO, COO, and Chief Business Officer on some of their main initiatives: building the business model for potential venture capital investors, implementing a third-party background verification service for candidates that get hired through Babajob, and trying to instill a more efficient, data-driven culture across the organization.
When I left Booz on sabbatical, it was with the full intent to return after the 10 months in Bangalore. Whenever someone asked what I was doing after the fellowship, I promptly replied that I was going to go back to my old job, one that I was always very happy in. I even had my flights booked to head back to New York this week. That changed last month, when Babajob asked if I’d stay on after the fellowship — and work directly with the CBO in a strategy-meets-execution business operations role in order to scale the company — and gave me a decision to make.
How, and what, did I decide?
I told a close friend about what Babajob had offered me, and that I was going to chew on it. He laughed, before adding:
“All you’re going to chew on is a Big f****** Apple.”
I don’t blame him — I was very comfortable in New York and that seemed like the choice I was going to make all along. I had heard the phrase “follow your heart” more times than I can count. While my time in Bangalore since September had been excellent, my heart was leaning towards a return to Booz/Strategy& in New York — what can compare to the capital of the world?
I couldn’t help but at least consider the offer though. Whether this was because of the rational view of the learning opportunity, the company’s growth trajectory, the opinions of several well-wishers (thank you all again), or just to prove my dear friend wrong, I’m not sure, but it forced me to think about the facts in front of me.
First, the numbers: While at Babajob, I experienced a fascinating journey of expansion. I only had 30 colleagues when I joined the team in September, and the team exceeded 250 by June. In that same time-frame, the company’s valuation had grown more than 10X, after a recent $10M round of Series B funding from SEEK Australia (one of the world’s largest players in job marketplaces) and revenues had grown 7X. Then, once I thought about my hopes to start something of my own in India eventually, I felt the experience working to scale a fast-growing enterprise here is a learning opportunity I shouldn’t turn down, and my mind was voting Babajob.
It was the first time in my life that my head and my heart were pointing in different directions. I flipped coins, I made tables, I weighed the pros and cons, I solicited opinions (thank you all who contributed), I listened to unsolicited ones (thanks Johnny), and I don’t even know what else I could have done.
Eventually, the learning potential of the role made it seem like the obvious choice, and I’m excited to have joined the Babajob team full-time. It’s only been a few days in the new role, but I’ve already had a chance to start gaining hands-on business experience with negotiations, implementing process changes, and making hiring decisions, and I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.
To the New Yorkers reading this — please know that this was, truly, the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make because I had a fantastic time there because of people like you, and I can’t thank you enough. To the Bangaloreans — I’ve had an amazing 10 months here, and I’m excited to extend my time whilst working to help find better jobs for everyone.
P.S. — Babajob is hiring, feel free to get in touch!