Subject Matter Expert – Who ?


Which is that moment when one becomes an authority on a particular subject?

My father is M.D. Physician, even after years of Doctorate study and practice of Medicine. As a child, I often found him between pages of Indian Medical Journals or pharma books about new medicine composition, technology or procedure. His learning never stopped. I always wondered why he needed to go back to books after spending more than a decade in med school.

When I started my career in Advertising, I had nothing to my credit, no relevant degree or portfolio. I did my first client pitch with significant details on how I could help solve the problem at hand. I was honest and upfront with my client that I haven’t done this before, nor can I claim to be the expert on the subject. I still remember that client. He smiled at me and said doesn’t matter, you spotted the problem that none bothered about, and that is enough for me to trust you with this assignment, and once you start, we will know. And they were our clients for a decade.

I told the same thing to my early recruits when I started my firm. I haven’t worked or built an agency before. So, I might make mistakes and fumble, but I will learn from each experience and do better. And I expect the same from people who work with me.

As founders, we never have a day when we are not thrown at the unknown. But surviving and scaling up challenges and different. Both need different perspectives, mindsets and abilities to navigate the responsibilities. While scaling up, the focus shifts from the daily grind to hiring and training, process standardization and implementing service excellence. Do I have prior experience with the same? No. I learn every day, create best practices, and find new inspirations. I move forward each day.

Could our previous generation do that professionally ? for example, licensing raj and aristocratic society had created enough barriers for people to grow professionally and explore beyond social hierarchy. Education was the only saviour to breaking the invisible line at such a time, but today that isn’t the case. One doesn’t need to be physically present to get employed at the organisation of their dream. The youngest team leads to CEOs leading some large organisations, which is unprecedented.

Recently, while taking an interview, I met a promising young girl with talent and capability. After giving complete details about the role and working at the company, she had more doubts. Not about the role but about the designation and profile. She forgot to ask me, “what possible scale of growth could she achieve while working with the offered role?” It is good to make informed decisions, but the parameters and influence must be well-balanced. I see the pattern here with younger recruits. While they are edgy, smart and full of ideas, there is a huge gap in patience and trust in processes. There are undoubtedly more merits to today’s youth, but somewhere lack sincerity.

A message to the younger me somewhere explore roles, be honest, be bold with the experiences you get early in your career, and don’t find shortcuts and quick earning, as there is no replacement for hard work anywhere in the world. And most importantly, never stop learning. 

Times are changing quickly, and ways of work are quicker. Adapting, learning and exploring aren’t just skills but an attitude one must have.

“The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn. “Alvin Toffler

Disclaimer: I am not a subject matter expert, just someone who has yet to give up on learning new things daily.

Read More Articles

Let's Connect