One of my ex-students had come visiting last week. A NIFT graduate with 8 - 10 years of experience behind him, he had come over to discuss how he should be looking at his career from here on. He had done well. He had chosen to work with a relatively smaller, entrepreneurial set up which had allowed him to earn a good title, wide exposure across functions, and a salary that was close to the top of his class. But now a decade later, he was a cross roads. Working with smaller, owner driven set ups have their limitation since the top slots tend to be occupied by inheritance. So he had started looking out but couldn’t see much to excite him. I have to say there was not much I could help him with. The retail industry presently seems to be in state of lull. A weak stock market has prevented retailers from accessing funds for growth. Restricted FDI permission has prevented international players from making a strong presence. The number of large, organized retail players continues to be limited. Even within that elite club, a majority of them are struggling for profitability. If we are then to move our attention to the top lifestyle brands (and again these are a limited number), we notice that for all their bluster, the majority are within the Rs 500 – 600 crore turnover mark. So where does a bright young professional with a decade of experience behind him go from here? I wasn’t able to give him an answer and have promised to revert to him. But I must say that the exercise of stopping to take a view of the retail industry has been disquieting.