Why I moved to Strategy

I have begun my post-INSEAD MBA career by moving to a more strategic role. Some people have asked me about my decision and so I am writing my thoughts here.
Initially, many people expected me to continue with new media. I was approached for various positions with the private sector, SMEs and MNCs alike, related to my previous work. I was open to this possibility provided I had the opportunity to lead a team. Alternatively, I considered an expansion into general marketing, despite my stronger affinity for social networks and generating buzz/word of mouth with unpaid media.
However, a concern for me was that marketing work would still be rather downstream in nature. I know that’s not the case in some good companies, but often the thinking’s already been done and you’re just there to execute it. From many job ads, it seemed the only ‘strategy’ required of such positions was related to the marketing of the product or service. Sure, a lot of money can be made if you do it well, but if I did something that wasn’t impactful to society, I wouldn’t be happy with myself.
The litmus test for me was writing the cover letters. I couldn’t bring myself to pitch for a role which I felt was cold, mechanical or treated people as statistics. I know some of my classmates working in MNCs in the West are probably making double or triple the salary of those of us serving the nation over here. Then again, I’ve been told that one must also do something that one loves – then one will be good at it, and rewards will surely come.
I wanted to do something that could let me sleep well at night and wake up in the morning eager to go to work. A few years ago in HPB I had the strongest of such feelings, when I faced my first unchartered waters (using new media in the Government) and was empowered to do innovative things with minimal red tape. If I could be given similar opportunities at a higher level, I was certain I would perform just as well. However, I also wanted a bigger scope that would allow me to make use of my MBA. I didn’t want to take my MBA and bang it on the table like a shoe, demanding I be treated like a God. I just wanted something reasonable, commensurate with my experience, qualifications and track record. My views were listened to many times by people who mattered, and the attention they gave to me was more than I had expected. They believed I could be moved on to something bigger.
And so, I decided to join HPB’s Strategic Planning team. A lot of colleagues (support staff, execs, senior execs, managers, DDs+) from all the Divisions have welcomed me back warmly. Thanks for the hugs, cheers and ‘Amens’. I have noted some of your feedback and will endeavour to provide strategies that are implementable on the ground – for we have been taught in b-school that there is no point in having a strategy if it isn’t properly executed. Also I hope you continue to show me and my new teammates the love, even after the Corporate Planning exercise 🙂
As for my new main role, I hope to *lead* the organisation into a new realm of *thought*. To be continued…