WISE WORDS

Meet the Perennials: Tejinder Jassal, a product designer constantly on the search to solve new challenges

Priyanka Gothi

October, 10 2019, 3:28 PM

In this series, we meet inspiring over-50s who are re-defining the way we look at age. This time, we spoke to Chandigarh and Hong Kong based Tejinder Jassal who dons multiple hats - a product designer from IIT, a passionate Quizmaster, a startup advisor, educator and more! Let's hear how he approached work after he realised that his team did not need him anymore.

Q1 Briefly share with us with your background. Where you grew up and what your childhood was like?
As a youngster, we travelled to various places because my father had a transferable Government job. So I ended up being schooled at a number of places before finishing my schooling at New Delhi. Like all young boys, childhood was fun and games. I was a serious reader, though and started reading at a very young age. We would play games and I was a fairly decent player at basketball. Traveling taught me the skill of making new friends fast. The fact that I was usually the best student in class made it easier as well!

Q2. How old are you now and what are you currently doing?
I am 63 years old, going on to 64! I am the founder Director of a Product Design Company. We design electronics of various kinds for our customers and also manufacture for them.

Q3. For the majority of your career, what would you say you have been doing?
I have done nothing but Product Design my entire working life. I have led teams of designers at various organizations that I have worked for and we were able to do some pioneering work.

Q4. What would you describe as the proudest moment of your career?
My team was recognized as the best team across all areas! We had delivered an ambitious project to our collaborator, something that was the first one of its kind across the globe. We achieved it in a tight time-frame and it worked so well that the collaborator placed repeat orders.

Q5. What has been the turning point in your career that led you to explore other avenues
The realization that my team had become self-reliant and they no longer needed me to be present! A sobering thought but I think that this should be the goal for anybody who is leading teams: make yourself redundant!

Q6. When not at work, what brings you joy? Could be hobbies or passions in life? What do you most enjoy about them?
I have had a life-long passion for Quizzing. I have been organizing and conducting quizzes at various levels for more than thirty years now. I am a regular Quizmaster at various Youth Festivals. It keeps me in touch with the youth and I end up learning a lot about their aspirations. It gives me great pleasure when I find that I can inspire them to do things they would normally not even think of.

I also spend time in workshops and lectures at various fora. I also advise start-ups as part of my activities as a member of the business incubator of an engineering institute. I have also found time to write books, technical articles for a technology magazine, do TV shows and make documentaries. Reading is a part of my life and I spend as much time as I can get on reading.

Q7. Does it bother you that you are now older? When does it bother you the most?
Age is just a number! I am not bothered about it at all. What worries me is that I may not be able to share all the knowledge that I have picked up in my journey with people who could benefit from it.

Q8. Tell me a time in your life when you looked for a job after you turned 60. What was that experience like?
I did not have to look for a job after I turned 60. I have been on my own from the age of 40 years. Even when I had some major disappointments in my professional life, I did not look for a job.

Q9. What advice would you give to those who are older and exploring second careers?
Do not panic! Most organizations are run by young people. They do not understand that the more important thing is the knowledge and experience that goes into making a great company. Try instead to leverage your skills. Maybe you can start something on your own, one step at a time. After all Grandma Moses started painting when she was eighty years or more. Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at age 60……

Q10. What keeps you motivated to stay productive?
Curiosity! The curiosity to learn new things.

Q11. Which aspect of work gives you the most joy? (Salary, designation, team, purpose etc) and why?
This is a tough question. Money is important, especially as you grow older and need a nest egg. Most important is meeting the challenge of applying the knowledge, old and new, to try to solve a real life problem.

Q12. How would you say your approach to work has changed since you first landed a job?
I have learnt to be patient. My approach is now more people-centric.

Q13. What advice would you give to your 30 year old self to prepare for a 100 year life?
Learn how to listen! And do not throw your weight around. Learn new things.

Q14. What advice would you give to companies who are not sure if they should hire older talent?
Older people have vast knowledge and experience gathered as they journeyed through life. They have been through the grind. Young people still have to go through those stages. Use the wealth of experience! Most likely, an older person has already worked on a problem that you are struggling with and has a solution. Older people also have a big network that they can use to help your Company.

Q15. Where can people find out more about you? Here’s where you could share your blog link / Linkedin profile etc.
LinkedIn profile | Company website