With employees spending more and more time at the workplace, a wacky job title seems like a dash of colour in the corporate world where everything is in black and white
Quirky job titles are great conversation starters as they raise eyebrows and curiosity quotient sky-high
Ben Metcalfe proudly calls himself the Chief Trouble Maker. It seems like the perfect tag for the co-founder of WP Engine, who is a hacker-turned-independent consultant. He advises leading internet companies on product development and open platform strategy for websites and apps built with WordPress.
If you thought that was crazy enough, check this out: Founding Mobster, Hunterwali, Director of First Impressions and Director of Storytelling, Brewmaster, Brand Evangelist, Chief Fun Officer, etc.
I know that you are scratching your head at this list. Ok, let me explain. Brewmaster is a brewer responsible for the production of beer in a brewery; Director of First Impressions is actually a fancy title for a receptionist, while Founding Mobster is a euphemism for founder.
And Hunterwali is not the movie in which Fearless Nadia aka Mary Evans Wadia starred. Rather, it is the designation of Mehak Sabat, head of Bollywood content, The Glitch. The moniker was bequeathed to her after she fired three people in the first week of her job!
These days, companies are flexible in terms of how they deal with employees and even encourage them to showcase their bizarre side. They feel it instils a sense of pride among the employees and allows them to tap their ‘cool’ quotient. Out-of-the-box job titles are not uncommon now as employees strive to give their workplace a bit of zing and colour.
That is what the British thought they were doing when they decided to call their lifeguards ‘wet leisure assistants’, but somehow that missed the spot. The ninjas, on the other hand, seem all over the place, especially in the retail and sales areas. But for a Boston-based company, SCVGNR, its Chief Ninja worked his charm on venture capitalists and got his company $32 million so far.
With employees spending more and more time at the workplace, a wacky job title seems like a dash of colour in the corporate world where everything is in black and white. Remember how Prasoon Joshi came up with the Chief Happiness Officer title? The current Chief Happiness Officer at McCann Erickson, Bharat Oswal, likes to describe himself as “Me..Myself..& JUGAAD.. Marwadi Keeda” on his LinkedIn profile. I guess that is what happiness does to you. Another ad agency Glitch describes its work as “we practice Brandalism, copyfighting, mocketing and believe in erosion of integrity”.
People opt for out-of-the-box job titles as it helps them to stand out in the crowd given that one is likely to remember such designations than the run-of-the-mill ones. Of course, it also depends on what kind of company you are working for. The trend is noticed mostly in advertising, media, information technology and start-up companies.
Besides, they are great conversation starters as they raise eyebrows and curiosity quotient sky high. I mean with titles such as Chief Popsicle, Chief Executive Pickle, Digital Overlord, Web Alchemist and a Modality Manager, you are bound to at least go shake hands with the person!
However, what will you do if someone’s CV read this: Problem Wrangler, Wizard of Light Bulb Moments, Digital Dynamo, Chief Instigation Officer or Chief Thought Provoker. It might lead to curiosity of a different kind, like what exactly this person does?
The question is that do we really need such titles? At the end of the day, it all boils down to the work one does. One has to tread really carefully while trying to appear “fun” on public platforms. You never really know whom you are going to rub off in the wrong way. A random look at profiles in LinkedIn shows that even though people are willing to show their quirky side to the world, they still mention the official job title.
Job titles not just reflect the responsibilities of the person in-charge, but also mirror what the company stands for. For example, software major Dell takes honesty and integrity of its employees very seriously. So, the company created the post of Chief Ethics, Privacy and Compliance Officer.
In the Indian context, Kishore Biyani-led Future Group roped in physician-turned-mythologist Devdutt Pattnaik as Chief Belief Officer. Widely regarded as a management guru, Pattnaik in his own words was to “pay attention to the value of belief in business as belief shapes behaviour, which shapes business.” Of course, Biyani’s idea paid dividends and Devdutt is now a celebrated author on the subject.
But just when you think you have seen it all, more surprises crop up. I just came across these insane job titles and I don’t know what to make of them. If you do, please let me know. Chief People Herder, Chatter Monkey, Public Happy Maker, Social Media Rockstar/Evangelist/Missionary, Head of Interactions, Community Data Guerrilla, Social Media Swami, Retail Jedi, Wicked Witch Of The Web…
Illustration by Suneesh Kalarickal