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If there existed a fixed formula for success, you can be sure someone would have found a way to bottle it, sell it and sit back to enjoy the spoils. But, in the absence of those bottles, how does a young professional work towards building a satisfying and accomplished career?

At a recent press conference to announce 'Inspire, involve and transform India' as the theme of the IIT Alumni 2006 Global Conference (to be held in December 2006), we spoke to two ex-IITians who are established and successful professionals today.

Rajat Gupta is a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company Worldwide (a management consultancy) and Chairman of PANIIT US (Global Alumni Association), and S K Gupta is Advisor Telecom-Tata Group and former Managing Director of VSNL.

Learn, Learn, Learn

According to Rajat, you must, as a young person, be curious and have a learning mindset in whatever you do. This is extremely important for progress. People often try to figure out in advance whether a certain job or path is right for them, but this isn't the right approach. Understand that, no matter what job you take up, you can learn from everything you do if you have a mindset geared towards learning.

Cultivate constant, life-long learning as a value system.

Be a team player

Learning to work with other people is essential. There are some fields where this is not necessary -- if you are a pure theoretical mathematician, for instance, you can sit and work alone! However, by and large, to be successful, you have to learn how to influence people, deal with and work with them.

People skills are very important and you must develop them.

Develop a strong value set

It is very important that you develop a strong value set to be your own internal compass. Keep this in mind and let it guide you in your work, emphasises Rajat.

Think BIG
Part of being successful is thinking beyond the boundaries given to you. If you are given a certain job, you have to think above and beyond what that job entails. Learn how to think outside the box. Being creative and, more importantly, being proactive is definitely an attitude to cultivate.

Recognise the basic elements of success

According to S K Gupta, success comes from dedication, commitment, integrity and honesty. No matter what level of job you are at, approach your work with these values. He also adds that a certain element of luck does go into making something a success. If you stay focused on your work and account for that little bit of luck to take things further, no one can keep you from being successful