Transitioning from Defence to the Corporate World

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Transitioning from Defence to the Corporate World

The following account by Col. Bhagwan Shekhawat depicts his journey from defence to the corporate world. It also throws light on the key factors that need to be considered before joining the corporate sector and how to prepare yourself for the upcoming change.


It is an important phase of life for a Defence Officer to transit from a set pattern of disciplined life to volatile corporate world where things move on a different grid and pace.

We would therefore discuss the expected paradigm shifts in two phases which would facilitate the smooth transition to the new environment as well as help the Defence Officer to adjust in a short duration of time to obtain maximum dividends from the enriched past experience.


Prior to joining the Corporate Sector

(a) Develop Resume

(b) Interview Preparations

(c) Corporate Communication

  • Resume:

One must get the resume developed from an expert who is well acquainted with defence as well as corporate profiles. Most of the time, a recruiter is not able to get the correct picture of the past experience of a candidate. The candidate also fails to exhibit his competencies.

  • Interview:

It has been experienced over a period of time that the first question (Tell something about yourself), in fact, becomes the most difficult question for most of the candidates. Either they become too emotional while narrating own background details or go drastically tangent to the desired job profile.

They must be advised to just mention for a few moments about the graduation and regiment or the battalion. Thereafter, minimum two to three achievements made in the last 3 to 5 years be mentioned which must align with the desired job profile.

The candidate should also identify own three strong qualities which may be based on administrative skills, logistic management or some technical knowledge. These must be expressed and exposed well while talking about the recent achievements.

A candidate must guard against getting in discussion with the interviewer on topics of human resource practices of the corporate world vis-à-vis the Armed Forces.

Some candidates talk a lot when asked for strong points but fail to answer when asked for weak points. This has to be looked into. A candidate must also know that what value addition will be done by her/him on joining the new organisation.

A candidate must also have negotiating skills when it comes to joining an organisation but the quantum of salary should not be the only criteria. It is the first entry into the corporate sector which must be important.

  • Corporate Communication:

The candidates must unlearn service writing procedures and relearn corporate communication skills which primarily involves e-mail writing and giving suitable replies. Certain defence officers take e-mail writing as Demi Official letter writing which doesn’t go well.

Even verbal communication need to be imbibed thoroughly. Mostly in defence, word “Sir” is used for addressing a senior and during the interview, certain candidates address the interviewer as Mr which must be avoided.


Post Joining Corporate Sector

On joining, the initial six months are very crucial for a candidate to align and adhere to the unwritten routine working rules of an organisation which is a matter of concern. A candidate must be adaptable and should not show unnecessary resistance to the existing norms of his new organisation.

Some advices are enumerated below:-

* Never talk ill of your present organisation.

* Learn about the SOPs, administrate rules and adhere to these religiously.

* Keep your vibrant suggestions to yourself for six months and later you can give these.

* Make first move to be part of the existing team and don’t remain aloof.

* Interact with the other department heads and develop a good professional relationship rather than being confined to your own office.

* Read a lot and discuss on contemporary topics but always keep in mind the corporate rank structure.

* Never discuss things in the canteen and restrooms. It may be volatile and may give a wrong impression of you in the organisation.

* Have patience for six months and things will fall into their own place.

*Keep in mind that initially you may not get the assignments which were promised to you during the interview process so have a patience. It pays.

* Never criticise your boss in public rather praise him for his good professional qualities in front of his friends. You will get better dividends.

* No one gives power in the corporate world as comes attached with the rank in the defence services. You get these only along with the added responsibilities when you perform well.


At the end of a day, it is the performance which matters in the corporate world. But your attitude and the working relationship with other colleagues do count as feedback.


Col Bhagwan Shekhawat, Head — HR & Admin, URB India Bearings

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