It pays to have more than one career – lessons from a finance exec who's just got a Grammy nomination

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The book co-written by former finance executive Kabir Sehgal and civil rights activist John Lewis is competing in the same Grammy category LeVar Burton, Barack Obama and Dave Chapelle have been nominated in.
The book co-written by former finance executive Kabir Sehgal and civil rights activist John Lewis is competing in the same Grammy category LeVar Burton, Barack Obama and Dave Chapelle have been nominated in.
Amanda Edwards / Bruce Glikas / Axelle /Bauer-Gri

He's a former JPMorgan investment banker. 

And a US navy veteran who's just been nominated for a Grammy – it'll be his seventh if he wins.

The London School of Economics graduate is a record producer and composer. He's also the executive producer and co-writer of HBO’s Fandango at the Wall. Oh, and he's published 16 books – many of them bestsellers.

It's safe to say he's a curious guy with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and mastering a number of expertise – a veritable skill-stacker. 

"My corporate job pay cheque subsidizes my record producing career. With no track record as a producer, nobody was going to pay me to produce his or her music, and it wasn’t money that motivated me to become a producer in the first place — it was my passion for jazz and classical music. Therefore, I volunteered so that I could gain experience in this new industry," Kabir Sehgal wrote in a Harvard Business Review column, making the argument for having more than one career.

"My day job not only afforded me the capital to make albums, but it taught me the skills to succeed as a producer."

 Advice,careers,inspiration,skill stacking,Covid-1
Kabir with former US ambassador to the UN Andrew Young at their book launch in New York in 2011.

The concept of skill-stacking, acquiring competencies in various disciplines, has become even more popular during the pandemic – thanks to a rise in the popularity of online learning.

As the coronavirus moered us, that online course in digital marketing, West African cooking styles or crocheting seemed even more appealing for many as we languished in the banality of lockdown living.

Read more | My Story | How this Eastern Cape man worked 12 hour shifts as a petrol attendant while studying his LLB fulltime

A primary school teacher could study AI and machine learning, a lawyer could learn how to be a DJ and a journalist could study instructional design as the online learning world got seemingly more limitless.

Wise folks do say "variety is the spice of life" – and with good reason. It expands our frames of reference and creativity.

“[Interdisciplinary thinking is] technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing,” the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author argues, quoting Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. 

"When you work different jobs," Kabir reflects, "you can identify where ideas interact — and more significantly, where they should interact." 

If you're feeling stuck in a rut, you should consider skill-stacking, particularly in the ever-growing Information Technology-related fields, in the new year. Doing so can "ensure their continued employability” according to Elbie Liebenberg, MD at MindSharp, a brand of SA private education provider ADvTECH. 

“Whether you are in education, business, the media, finance, or any other field, one or more IT short courses will vastly increase your ability to fulfil a diverse number of roles or enable you to start a whole new career entirely, and will therefore increase your future options and ability to diversify or move to a more sustainable role within your organisation,” she says.

Read more | Overemployed and leading a double (remote) life – how having more than one full-time job works in SA

If you don't know where to start, these are some creative IT-related courses you can consider enrolling in that can make your CV stand out, advises Elbie.


In 2020, more businesses and companies went online and remote than any time in human history. Brick and mortar stores became online shops; boardroom meetings became online syncs; and even things as simple as buying groceries increasingly moved online.

Behind all of this digital activity are full stack web developers. These tech professionals keep us connected and working in a world that relies on information communication technologies to run, and will remain in high demand long into the future.

  • Courses to consider: HTML & CSS, JavaScript, HTML5 Application Development


As data becomes the world’s most valuable resource, the demand for data security is ever increasing. Qualifying as a data security specialist will enable you to understand the tools, techniques and knowledge required to also start thinking like a data scientist, a skill every modern-day working professional should have. Within companies, Chief Information Officers are crucial to help guide the direction of a company, based on insight into the meaning of available data.

  • Courses to consider: Python, Data Security Management, Databases


Software engineering is a creative career that allows you to work with software, hardware, and other computer systems in a wide variety of industries and jobs. This career places you at the heart of the digital economy, with endless scope for growth. Each industry requires its software engineers to translate their insight of the industry into the software engineering space of that industry, so this is a great field in which you can apply prior knowledge to a new role.

  • Courses to consider: Java, Python, HTML5 Application Development


A web designer is an IT professional who uses various computer software applications and programming languages to create and maintain web content. This usually involves designing the layout, visual appearance and usability of a website to ensure the user has a pleasant browsing experience. Becoming a web designer will allow you to apply your existing knowledge of your field and market in a creative and stimulating new way.

  • Courses to consider: HTML & CSS, JavaScript, Adobe Illustrator CC 2020


Graphic designers use their creativity to create visual concepts that communicate certain ideas and messages. These visual concepts are created by hand or by using computer software, and include a variety of media. This takes the form of both physical and virtual art forms, and includes elements such as words, graphics, and images. 

  • Courses to consider: Adobe Photoshop CC 2020, Adobe InDesign CC 2020, Adobe Illustrator CC 2020

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