India calling? A few things to keep in mind before your BIG moveChetan Kumar
It’s been four years since I got back to India! Over the years, I have got a lot of queries from friends, friends of friends, and cold connects on LinkedIn asking about the ‘big move’ back to the motherland. I thought I’d put some of those conversations in this article.
Before the move
All the glossy growth and the call of the homeland trigger a quest for the 10,000-mile journey back. Clearly, India IS changing and the news is full of stories of growth and entrepreneurship. India is Uber’s, LinkedIn’s, and Facebook’s largest markets outside of the US, to name a few! Rising stars amongst non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the West have been ‘prized catches’ to rise to the occasion and earn their stripes right where they came from. The lure of career growth without compromising on pay is too good to be true! It certainly does work that way for a minority, but that’s not universally true. Not everyone gets a red carpet homecoming!
There are of course myriad other reasons to contemplate a move. For example, family back home being a key one, giving kids a taste of their ‘roots’, starting a venture, boredom in the workplace, etc.
I suggest listing down a set of your key reasons for the change. Often, I’ve seen it helps separate the truth from imagination and procrastination. What do you want to really do? What do you wish to change? Why India? Why now? The answer may lie elsewhere.
Unless you’re starting your own venture, make a list of at least five companies you’d really wish to work for and preferably even the exact roles. The more specific the better. Then, reach out to your network to ask for pointed help.
You’ve found a great opening in your existing company to lead something for a ‘key market’, or that startup that everyone is hearing about made you an offer that matched your US salary, gave equity and you’re taking the plunge! A few visits to find the perfect NRI housing, schools for kids and late night phone calls with family and connections to sound-proof your decision. Simple!
Well, yes and no! While your decision will have multiple factors, here are a few thoughts as you contemplate accepting an offer. If you’re moving with your current organisation as an expat or on a promotion, lucky you! All the benefits and very low risk makes for a ‘no brainer’. However, moving to a new company especially a startup, in a new industry, in a new city is just too many moving parts to fully bake into the best of models. All I’m saying is; be prepared to deal with a lot of change, regardless of how long you’ve been out of India. In fact, it’s the family that will face the most change while you are catching your breath in the new job! Fast and furious companies are also high risk; so don’t rule out the possibility that either party may decide to end the contract suddenly. Mitigate some friction, for example, many people move their families a few months after settling into the job, take furnished housing initially, sometimes one spouse keeps a job in the US, etc. Make sure your offer is negotiated for covering these risks. Some offers include fly-backs to the US, severance pay (not mandatory in India), paying for children’s fees in International schools. Conversely, the employer may also include a claw-back clause on relocation expenses, joining bonus and unusual ESOP cliffs to safeguard its interests. The equity negotiation, which is a more recent phenomenon in startups, is a whole discussion in itself. In short, it is not always very transparent so make sure you get it all in writing BEFORE you join! Also, be sure to check on the incidence of taxes with an advisor.
- Write down your priorities when contemplating a moveBe sure you want to move to India.
- Set realistic expectations to find a great job, it CAN take time if you want pay, potential and position.
- Hedge your risks, both with the company and personally.
- When movingPrepare the family for change.
- Some unexpected or unpleasant interactions are part of it.
- Have a contingency plan for crises situations.
- No pain, no gain! Immerse yourself!
If you’re the kind of person who can take a few things in her or his stride, then belt up and take that jet plane home. Ultimately, in India’s chaos, uncertainty, crowds and diversity lies the opportunity!
NEXT: The ‘Up Guide’ to surviving in India
(These are my personal views based on my experiences and I’d welcome more perspectives!)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)