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Risk Taking is not Gambling

Our experts draw a clear line between risk taking and gambling, leaving no scope for confusion:

Pratima Thomas: Risk-taking and gabling are two different things. Risk-taking comes when the will is stronger than the skill and the situation around. Gambling is when you are not very mindful of certain consequences or results that your risk-taking is bringing in. If the consequences are helpful and beneficial to us, then it is worth the risk and I go ahead. However, if I feel that the results are too adverse and could affect someone else’s life, then I draw a line and probably alter my risk-taking.

Jasmin Ignatius: Gambling is very different from business risk-taking. The former is a game with two possible outcomes and there’s an element of wishful thinking. Risk-taking, on the other hand, is a calibrated process aimed at obtaining better results through a different approach.

Ruchi Bubber: Gambling is something where the outcome is unknown. I don’t know whether I am going to succeed or not. It’s completely uncertain. In risk-taking, you have an outcome anticipated, which is based on assessment, data, what is the achievement that you want to get, etc. In risk-taking, you should consider the potential consequences of your choice. In gambling, it is not there. Either you fail or you win. It is as simple as guessing.

Draw the line where you think you do not have enough data points or you cannot predict the outcome even if it is 50% right, then that’s gambling. But if you have some data, methods you have considered options to achieve that particular goal then it is risk.

Vandana Trivedi: In a work environment any risk-taking that involves one’s own career has to be evaluated in light of one’s personal circumstances and career goals. Any risk-taking that involves the firm’s investments in terms of time or other resources should go through a detailed and transparent evaluation of the decision. All the stakeholders should be involved in the decision, and should be convinced about the extent of risk that the decision may involve. Any risk that involves or may potentially involve reputational damage to the firm or could be in violation of the letter or spirit of the regulatory environment should NOT be taken.

Sunita Rath: When you can assess the level of risk and increase / influence the probability of success with the help of your knowledge / skills, it is considered a calculated risk. Here, you are also able to anticipate the consequences and hold the capacity to face the consequences and can work towards minimizing its impact on yourself / family / organization / society. Gambling is a matter of chance independent of any knowledge / skill. You can prepare for reducing the risk of a choice by better information / knowledge / skill and whereas gambling is completely beyond one’s influence.

So, risk taking can’t be equated to gambling and these are widely different from each other.

Purvi Bhavsar, Managing Director at Pahal Financial Services: I feel women in general are quite balanced in their approach and would always be more practical when it comes to taking risk. I am no different in this theory !! Gambling is out of question but well-informed decision with some gut feeling (basis some knowledge) is something that you would aim for as a professional.

Namrata Sehgal: Gambling means essentially leaving everything to chance, ie you don’t have any control whatsoever over the results. So, you don’t want to be in a situation where you can’t do anything to turn the tide in your favour. With risk-taking, you walk into the situation with eyes open. You know well before what the consequences of your actions might be, and you are capable or prepared enough to bear those consequences. That’s the primary difference between gambling and risk taking.

Sumanlatha Sanghi, Head – Account & Channel Maintenance at ANZ: I think risk-taking is a logical decision based on certain details. It is not irrational and is well thought of. The fear of failure is there but then you also create back up plans to overcome failures.

Rajashree Nambiar, Former MD & CEO at Fullerton India Credit Company: However risky the situation might be, whatever decision I take I always think to myself whether I have a Plan B. I take risks when I know I have Plan B, so that in the worst-case scenario, I should know what is the way out. I would say I have taken more risks in my latter career then my initial career. One advice that I give younger people is always get independent of your payslip quickly. Once you do that, you can start taking risks and that is actually when you start doing the work that your mind and heart tells you, not because you are told to do something.

Mabel Chacko: There is a very big difference in risk taking and gambling because when you are taking a risk you have done some bit of calculations, you know what the consequences are, you know how the things are going to turn out to be. You also would have factored one or two other ways this thing could work out and you would have a plan B in your vicinity. On the other hand, gambling is only guess-work as there is no supporting data available. It’s just playing with luck.

Noopur Chaturvedi: In the professional or career journey context, there are 5 aspects linked to a change. One is geography, the others are industry, company and the role that you may be changing. Finally, there may be associated changes in family or support set-up. If you are changing all variables at the same time, it’s headed towards gambling (though I must say that people can succeed even with that!). My advice is to try and change only 2 or 3 variables at a time while stabilizing the others. Else the stress can be overwhelming. Hence go for ‘controlled risk’ as against ‘everything uncertain’.

Another area where women seem to be confusing risk vs. gambling is when they take an entrepreneurship plunge. Again, look at the variables above and then take an informed call.

Lincy Therattil: One should not shy away from taking risks. But at the same time, it should be a well-calibrated one. I usually do a lot of research about the action/activity that I plan to undertake. Also, the importance of listening to different perspectives cannot be overemphasised here. Take inputs from your friends, mentors, your peers, and sometimes even from your critics. When decisions are vetted by so many internal and external filters, it’s no longer gambling, but well-informed decisions that are likely to go right.

Jaya Janardanan: Till date I have never played card games in my life… I don’t know what gambling is all about. We all gamble with the objective of winning. In an organization, you take a conscious step to do something different. Risk is taking steps to explore the unknown. In a financial services organization, operational risk is an unknown risk.

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