Career Progression

I’m close to two thirds my way into my “Project Thirty”. Parts of it aren’t going so well. I’ve hardly traveled, for one, save a bike trip across Rajasthan. My to-be-read pile is as tall as it used to be, and my DVR hard drive is almost full with movies that I’ve wanted to watch, but haven’t been able to watch. Despite this, at this stage I must say Project Thirty is heading to a success.

Soon enough, I should be signing my first really large consulting deal. That should keep me busy enough for the next six months, though I think I’ll have some time to do other interesting stuff. The interesting thing about this is that it all started off with an “incoming lead”. One of the senior managers at my prospective client reads this blog. So that can be considered as my blogging career’s second big achievement – this blog’s predecessor was instrumental in my getting acquainted with the woman I’m currently married to.

I’ve structured this consulting assignment in a way that I spend just over half my time on it, and I’ve decided to use the other half to do things that I find interesting, without really having a monetary objective. So I’ve built a new graphic for cricket, which I’m trying to hawk around. I’ve built a whole system to simulate cricket matches. I’ve taught myself R, and more R, and have now learnt to scrape data off the interwebs.

I’ve rediscovered my love for programming (through that cricket project), and have now started dabbling with some stock market data trying to figure out if I can come up with a statistical arbitrage based strategy (in which case I’ll try sell it to some hedge fund). I’m teaching a course for the Takshashila Institution and if things go well, I might be teaching more than that, and elsewhere. I’ve started doing corporate workshops. Later this week I’ll be attending a conference for networking purposes. I meet people over coffee, just to get to know them. And so forth.

Now the problem is sustainability. Being a lone wolf, trying to find six-monthly consulting projects that take half your time is not an easy task. You need to be careful about how much you commit, for you have no resources at hand if you are over-stressed, but then you need the pipeline to flow, if you need your life to flow. That tells me that the logical step is to recruit, and build a team. That way, I can spend my time doing more quality things, but that also means that I spend time doing employee-management, something I don’t particularly look forward to. I like my current life as a freelancer but sustainability issues mean that I might need to “settle down”.

Some of those over-a-cup-of-coffee meetings have been with old friends/bosses who are insanely brilliant people. These conversations have given me a real high, and I never seem to have had enough of them! The amount of positive information flow and idea flow that happens when I meet one of these people is phenomenal. Unfortunately I don’t get to meet them too often, given our respective busy-ness. However, it would be wonderful to find co-workers like that, who would keep me mentally stimulated all the time.

Another cup of coffee was downed last week with a couple of acquaintances who needed my help in analyzing a particular data set they were looking at. They are individually intelligent people (though neither belongs to the category I mentioned in the previous paragraph), but a little different from me in terms of world-views and backgrounds and expertise. It turned out to be another phenomenal conversation, though, as we exchanged notes on how to attack the data, with each of our views educating one another. We were different people, but we were comfortable working together, and there seemed to be a lot to learn.

Anyway, the point is that I’m looking for partners now, to run my consulting business. Of course, they need to be people who share my world-view in terms of quant and data analysis, but I do think there needs to be some diversity in terms of world-view and way of thinking. Again, they need to be self-motivated to pursue this field of quant consulting, and they need to remember that they won’t be drawing a salary – since they’ll be partners. The most important bit, though, is that I need to be able to work with them. I hope that over the course of the next few months I’m able to identify and convince one or two people who fit this description and who I would want to share revenues with.

I’m also looking for a mentor. I have a number of things I’m doing and I need to focus. I have a friend who has worked in consulting who is mentoring me with respect to the general stuff regarding my consulting assignment. However, I need someone who can guide me in a larger perspective. In terms of how I need to approach life, how I should go about building a partnership, building my business, building my team, etc.

I’m excited at this point in time, and I hope I can make things work in terms of my new-found career. I’ll keep you updated on this.

8 thoughts on “Career Progression”

  1. Committing to managing people? That’s a huge one. My ‘Project 40’, which continues 16 years later, decided I would never take that on. I do every last bit of my own work, from filing to accounts – though working from my couch, I don’t need a tea boy. I wouldn’t lose that sense of liberation for anything.

    1. the biggest thing that is currently holding me back from expansion is the loss of freedom. There were times when I thought I could do with some help but then the thought of having to be responsible for someone completely put me off that!

  2. Skimpy, I’ve been there (independent consulting on and off).

    Right now though, 35 + married + two kids + a running home loan is a potent inhibitor to simply switching off a regular source of high income – aka a fat salary – and going into feast or famine mode, either making 50K in 6 hours of work spread over a week, or no income at all for extended periods of time. That – even with the cushion that my wife’s income + rental income from an apartment provides – is barely sustainable.

    You are significantly younger and have more independence in this, but your first focus needs to be to be entirely debt free, with a house and car that’s fully paid for, no credit card debt etc. And you need at least one or two years’ salary put by as “emergency money”, and need to be insured for upto 20 times your projected annual income, in a pure term policy.

    That gives you some breathing time where you work like crazy to expand your business, and start to recruit + consolidate *well before* you get crazily maxed out.

    1. I have a “business first” view on analysis. The business problem comes first and the analytical technique is a slave to that. a lot of analytics people get wedded to their data or the techniques and lose sight of the business.

  3. Nice blog, and interesting views. I am a new visitor – read about your cricket graphic/data product. I am keen to talk about that. Let me know if you are. cheers.

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