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Human Resources/Venturing into L&D


QUESTION: Hi, I have been looking at a career in the Learning and Development field with a focus on Executive as well as Life Coaching. Have been in conversation with lots of experts in this field and wanted to get few questions answered.
1.   I have around 5.5 years of work experience in Marketing and Brand Management post my MBA from IIM-A. Will moving towards a L& D domain at this stage be fine or should I try to get more experience in Marketing (if yes, around how much) before venturing into L&D.
2.   As a first step, I was thinking of going for the ISTD diploma course in parallel to the Marketing job and then try applying at HR consultancies or organisations in the L&D vertical. Is that a wise decision? Do organisations prefer candidates with an ISTD diploma and no prior training experience. How do I start with this and go ahead?
3.   I have heard that since L&D is at a nascent stage in Indian market right now, the organisations do not pay that well as opposed to Marketing roles. Is that true?
Your guidance would be very helpful.

ANSWER: Hi Madhur
First of all apologies for the delay in responding. Have been through a hectic phase.

I am left a little confused about your reason to choose L&D as the next phase in your career. The first few points seems to suggest that you perhaps have an interest in that area. Yet your last statement seems to suggest that you are concerned about the remuneration that you will get in this field. If that is a critical driver, then chances are your decision will be different since any switch in a new field could result in a lower earning to start with.

Secondly, there are various aspects in L&D. Executive/ Life coaching is just one area. And the competence that one needs to build for training v/s coaching is very different.

So, if you can share some more details about what are your drivers in choosing this shift in career & what you want to really focus on, I will be able to respond better.

Look forward to your response.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Pankaj,
Thanks for the response. To clarify on the concerns raised by you,I am interested in L&D as the next phase of my career. The query regarding monetary aspects was more for informational purpose and I understand that a shift in careers may lead to lower remunerations and may continue for quite sometime till one starts to gain foothold in the work and industry.Secondly, an experience of 8-9 years within different industries would be beneficial as well while starting this new phase and would not go waste, as far as I understand.

I understand that Training and Coaching require some different competences and there are separate courses and programs for the same. I am looking at starting with Executive Training like in Soft skills instead of going along with domain specific training.At a much later stage (say 4-5 years of Executive Training experience), I would like to leverage the expertise and contacts gained during the Executive training period and start with Life Coaching as a parallel exercise (will take due courses required for this) Does this plan look right to you? Your inputs would help me plan my career accordingly. Right now, I intend to continue with Brand Management and Marketing roles to gain work experience before making a sudden shift.


Hi Madhur
Thanks for the clarifications. Glad that you realize the consequences of a shift in career. I am sure you also realize that the returns in any career depend on the quality of work that the person is able to do in that career.

I agree that experience so far will not go waste and that continuing with brand management for some more time will also add to your perspectives. In any case, if you intend to get into soft skills, getting consumer/ customer insights in brand management will add to your soft skill expertise.

You may want to explore opportunities to identify soft skill training opportunities in your existing organization that a brand person could indulge in/ lead (for example - soft skills training for some of the sales people could be an option if you are in an industry that deploys front line sales people). This would give you the opportunity to experience this field and decide whether this is the one that you enjoy. It will also give you the opportunity to get feedback & see the impact that you are creating. Overall it is likely to help you take a final decision on the career switch as well.

Even in executive coaching there are two types of coaches - those who coach on the behavioral side & those who coach on the content (business/ function) side. If you intend to be a behavioral coach, then the route of doing soft skills training will be useful. Life coaching, as you have mentioned is more than behavioral coaching and even in that soft skills training experience can be useful.

Hope this helps. Do revert if you want me to clarify any aspect or add on to any other queries that you may have. All the best.



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Pankaj Bhargava


Questions related to choice of career, inter-personal issues at the workplace, performance management issues, structure issues, compensation structuring issues, culture building issues, linking HR with org. strategy


22 years in HR and Org. Development, designing & facilitating interventions, leading an HR team of an Indian multinational & facilitating multiple organizations across industries to build the desired culture to serve business need

HR magazine of TISS (an HR institute of repute - Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

B. Tech (Chemical Engineering) from IIT Mumbai (one of the most reputed engineering school in India) and PGDM (MBA) from IIM Kolkata (one of the most reputed management institutes in India).

Awards and Honors
Was awarded the Gold Medal for excellence in HR by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce at IIM

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