My Comfort Zone is an uncomfortable place to be…

More years have passed than I care to remember since I graduated and started looking for my first job. Unfortunately, the IT market was not doing that good and I was struggling to find a job. The toughest experience of that period was not that I couldn’t find a job, but seeing my parents worried about my future, and that I was unemployed even after completing a Computer Science & Engineering degree.

I took a job with a marketing company selling readymade trousers and shirts door to door so that I could avoid sitting at home and watch the worried faces of my parents. It was the toughest job of my life and I experienced many ups and downs during that time especially when doors were slammed on my face. But it taught me the greatest lesson of my life – ‘I will not be able to achieve what I wanted just by going with the flow and expecting someone to come and rescue me. Magic only happens easily but only in reel life but not in real life’.

I learnt quickly that I would have to do something and make drastic changes or risk being stuck in a dead-end. I quit that job, took a loan to do a post graduate diploma in advanced computing, moved cities and, got my first job as systems engineer. That’s when my career journey began

“You know what, you get uncomfortable if you are in your comfort zone for far too long”. These were the words my wife said to me a few years back. It was quite revealing, and I wouldn’t have said it myself, but the more I thought about it, I realised she was absolutely right.

I have never shied away from change, whether it was about moving cities, countries, jobs or living away from my loved ones. It’s always about taking control of the situation and making a change for better while keeping faith in myself.

Every positive step I’ve taken in my career has been the result of a change I’ve made – change is where magic happens in real life.

“Change is my best friend and the Comfort Zone is my biggest enemy.”

With an engineering degree in hand, my career began selling readymade shirts and trousers door to door in India, to becoming systems engineer working on enterprise UNIX servers, configuring and managing technical security products and then onto handling global leadership roles in global financial services organisations in UK.

More than a decade ago, I realised that I had hit a glass ceiling in my career and I was not going to progress further in my hometown in Delhi, India. At that time, I successfully applied for the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme Visa for UK, packed my bags with my wife and 2 infants kids with £3200 in my pocket and came to London to look for a job. It’s been exciting, tough and challenging but at the same time a rewarding and fulfilling journey.

Over my career, I have gained an interesting blend of working experience in technology, operations, information security, operational risk and digital resilience domain. I have always looked for a different challenge in my next step instead of sticking to one specific domain that became my area of expertise allowing me to have wider breadth of experience with deep operational knowledge. As a result, I find it easy to have conversations with business stakeholders, CxO members, Board members as well as technology subject matter experts.

In my previous role at Future Williams & Glyn (W&G), I started with a blank sheet to build a second line risk function for a new challenger bank to provide independent oversight and challenge to the business.

There was no well-defined job description and everything was in the build phase. It could have been an intimidating and uncomfortable situation for some but I felt it was the perfect opportunity to put my stamp on something that I can call my own, building it from the scratch and running it. I have seen the full cycle starting from applying for the Banking License to winding down as it could not go ahead due to unforeseen circumstances. Anyone involved in the Journey to Williams & Glyn will tell you that it’s been the most incredible, emotional, challenging journey but an amazing learning experience at the same time. But it’s time to close that chapter and move on to something new.

In few weeks, I will be starting in my new role as Head of Operational Risk for The Coventry Building Society (CBS). I interviewed with few organisations during my search but CBS stood out for me for various reasons. CBS’s CARES (Caring, Attentive, Reliable, Ethical and Straightforward) values are at the heart of everything they do. These values resonate with my own personal value framework.  Additionally, and perhaps the most important factor in my decision to accept this role came from the honesty and quality of discussions that I had with the ExCo and Senior Leadership team members as part of the selection process. I am privileged soon to be part of this leadership team.

In the next phase of my career, I am also looking forward to be involved with the industry more, sharing my personal views via blogs and talks, mentoring young talent, and taking on Independent Non-Executive Director (NED) or Advisory Board member roles in challenger organisations that allow me to utilise my broad skillset and experience in providing valuable guidance.

Our story is defined by choices we make during our lifetime and owning our decisions. I have made mine and confident that it’s the right one. Onwards & Upwards 🙂


*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Jitender Arora authored by Jitender. Read the original post at: