Tag Archives: career

Corporate Initiatives

Workshops, games, and ice-breaker sessions are an inevitable part of corporate life. The goals and objectives that they seek to achieve are often defeated because of poor vision and faulty implementation, leading to a colossal wastage of precious resources.

But on the positive side, they do provide a welcome respite from the usual routine and offer interesting opportunities to everyone concerned. They are generally held away from work locations, so you get to visit new places, meet new people, make new friends, try out some new food, and sometimes do some shopping as well.

I have attended so many of these sessions during my last 3-decade-old career that I have lost count of them. But I do remember that they were always fun.

My most recent experience of a workshop I attended in Hotel Fairmont, Jaipur, in June 2019, was, however, completely different. It was organized by our Principals.

See these pics below.

Inside Pink City (Jaipur)

This time, I was tired at the beginning itself because of the previous day’s hectic schedule and road travel. My fatigue didn’t wear off despite a good night’s sleep in the hotel. The organizers too appeared to be equally frazzled.

At Fairmont, Jaipur (at entrance)

Our first group activity of the day began at around 11 AM with about 40 of us dealer sales staff. We were split into two groups. Each group included some senior managers too. As it was supposed to be a fun activity, our seniors had a laid-back attitude.

Each group was given 15 square-shaped cardboard pieces. We were to imagine that they were boats and we were given the task of using them to reach an imaginary island on the opposite side as a team. We were to be creative as a team and devise the best strategy to cross the flooded river in the shortest possible time.

At the end of his instructions, our organizer suddenly announced, “Each group will have a leader who will ensure that the task is perfectly executed.”

This was quite unexpected, because activities like these are meant to demonstrate the benefits of collaboration, not for training people in leadership skills.

I got another shock a minute later when I found myself the leader of the team.

Well, as soon as the game began, there was a big chaos while we planned our strategies.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, our organizer pointed his hubristic finger at me and exclaimed, “Your feet are not on the cardboard. That means you are in water and drowned already! How will you take care of your team?

He had a scolding, hectoring tone and he sounded as if all this was for real. I was embarassed because all eyes were turned on me.

I smiled sheepishly and diplomatically followed the remaining instructions. The session ended a few minutes later, to my utter relief. As I had expected, our organizer manipulated the activity to drive it to the conclusion that “We performed better in the second part because we all collaborated as a single team.”

Another speaker took over after we got back to our seats. He also had a task in store for us: “Four of you from each of the 4 tables will play the role of customer and call a salesperson located in a different city from yours. Once you are through with this, you will give your feedback in an open discussion in post lunch session. Remember to start with positives and mention negatives later.” It was meant to check and demonstrate our dealerships’ overall responsiveness to customers’ enquiries.

Well, four best salespersons were chosen from each table and called.

From our table, the first salesperson was on his weekly off, so his response lacked enthusiasm. The second one was excellent while the other two had a few deficiencies. Similar performance was observed on the other 3 tables too.

This was sufficient fodder for the post lunch session.

As per his promise, the same speaker carried on the baton after lunch. He began by dividing us into two groups, those who did the mock calls and those who didn’t. I was in the second one.

He asked, “Why didn’t you guys call?”

“You said only 4 should call. We followed your instructions.”

He frowned and said, “Okay, you people stand in that corner and those who called will stand here. They will discuss their feedback on the mike, positives first, negatives next.”

For next one hour, the feedback session dragged on. I felt drowsier than before and my legs threatened to buckle under me. I wondered why we were made to stand like school children in a group punishment. We could have listened in a sitting position too.

I don’t know what the others thought, but I felt this kind of treatment was unjustified in a professional environment.

Well, sometimes, you just have to put up with certain things and remind yourself that this too will pass.

Around 5:30 PM, the workshop ended and we found pakoras and tea ready for us on the table when we came out of the conference room. They were tasty and unlike the just concluded workshop, left a good aftertaste in the mouth.

Here are a few more pics clicked on our way back home…

Awards And Recognition

Recognition is a wily, tricky little thing.

Some people get it so easily that it goes to their heads. They make mistakes and their short-lived euphoria soon gives way to crippling frustration.

And some people achieve recognition the harder way; after a lot of struggle, pain, and misery. By then they become so inured and so deeply humbled that recognition loses its sheen. They remain grounded and keep adding new milestones through sheer will-power and self-motivation. I consider myself lucky to belong to this second category.

On 21st September 2018, I participated in Volkswagen’s Sarvottam Skill Championship for dealerships in their Gurgaon Training Center as a Lead CR, Sales. It was as per prior nomination by my dealership.

Although my colleagues said that I was a strong contender because of my long experience, I personally had no expectations whatsoever as my association with Volkswagen so far had been for only last 6 months. I was there only to enjoy the learning experience.

A customer care manager’s job in a car dealership is, in fact, one of the most thankless ones in this world. You hardly ever get any appreciation for all those little things you do quietly behind the scenes that enable the other departments in achieving their targets and walking away with all the awards and applause. When you slave like that for almost 2 decades in a highly male-dominated environment, you kind of lose all interest in awards and you just learn to take life as it comes.

It was with this nonchallant state of mind that I took part in all the different rounds of the CR Sales Skill contest.

The gold winner’s name for Sales CR profile was announced towards the end. I was completely taken aback when that name turned out to be mine. For the first time in my life, I was a gold medallist!

Here are the pics.

On my way home, even the evening sky carried a huge rainbow; specially for me, it seemed.

But, of course, no celebration is complete till you share it with your family and all those friends who stood with you through the tough days…..

I have now qualified for the National Round due in December 2018 in Pune and I hope my calmness of mind lasts through this event as well.

Do wish me good luck, dear readers. I need all the good wishes I can gather.

Lady Auto Wali

Until very recently, auto rickshaw drivers were always males; autowallahs, that’s what we called them.

But on 26 June 2018, I had a pleasant surprise. My driver was a female and I had an additional bonus. It was a brand new vehicle with new floor mats placed neatly on the floor.

We waited for a few minutes while she solicited for more passengers.

A fellow e-rickshaw driver came up to her and said respectfully, “Madam, thoda aage badha lo! (Meaning in Hindi, Madam, please move a bit ahead)”

While he walked back , she drove her rickshaw a few steps ahead.

Finally, it was full and she confidently drove the vehicle into the busy traffic….

A few stops later, we saw a young man waving. She stopped beside him and waited for him to enter. He eyed the passenger seat beside her on the front, hesitated, and a second later opted to sit along with us behind her.

Gleefully, I noticed that had she been a male, he would have probably just plopped beside her without a second thought and parked his right arm behind her on the metal railing…

Our next stand was at a temple near Channan Devi Hospital, Janakpuri. This time she stopped and came out with a water bottle. She filled it at the water cooler and returned to continue with the journey.

She turned to the passenger next to her and said, “Yahan ka pani bohot meetha hota hai (Meaning, water from here is very good to drink).”

My co-passengers included a little girl, age about 8, I think, and her mom. They spent the first few minutes in eating chowmein off a small plastic plate. The little girl ate elegantly with 2 forks while her mother kept on picking strands of chowmein with her fingers and depositing them into her mouth. Once the chowmein was over, the mother threw the disposable plate outside and thrust a 10-rupee note into the girl’s trouser pocket.

Cautioning her, she said, “Yeh Autowali Aunty ke liye hai.” (Hindi translation: This is for Auto wali Aunty).

A passenger got off from the seat next to mine and the chowmein lady took his place. Turning towards me, she remarked, “My father also has an e-rickshaw. He keeps telling me to start using it. You just have to take care of brakes and speed.”

We all seemed to be moving at a leisurely pace. It was my weekly off and I wasn’t in a hurry either. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed my short journey.

When we reached our destination, I tried to come out from my right.

The autowali lady stretched out her hand and said, “No, not from there. There’s heavy traffic.”

I came out from the other side and handed her a 50-rupee note.

She muttered something into her face handkerchief about not always having “enough change.”

After giving me back my balance of Rs.40, she drove off…

With many government sectors closed and jobs too few, it’s good to see more and more women foraying into fields that were once male bastions.

Adversity, after all, doesn’t care for gender. Why should we?

Ageing And Dyeing

I was, I think, in my late 30s when streaks of grey appeared on my head. I welcomed them with open arms. I thought it was a good idea to age gracefully with pride, just like one of my professors whom I admired greatly during my college days.

Two years later, however, my whole life turned upside down. I was now in a different career and a different industry. I could no longer afford to remain inwardly drawn as my job profile involved dealing with people. For the sake of my career, I had to unlearn a lot of things that were ingrained in me since childhood.  It was painful initially as I had to constantly worry about what others thought about me and adapt myself accordingly. Earlier, the only qualities that mattered to me were intellect, knowledge, depth of feelings and emotions, and internal beauty. But now, it was all about superficial beauty, pleasing exteriors, memorable appearances, and making great first impressions and all this obviously included looking youthful.

Every organization has some unwritten, tacit rules that they expect their employees to follow instinctively. Those employees who understand this do well in their careers and those who don’t either stagnate or keep getting fired for what they perceive as’flimsy reasons.’

I realized this the harder way after a lot of struggle. It was during the toughest part of my life when I discovered that being well-groomed from outside is the best way to demonstrate to the whole world your optimism, strength and courage and positive things happen only to people who look positive. Looking positive outside actually tends to work backwards too and before you realize it, your interior too begins to feel cosy, warm, and comfortable…

There are certain things, of course that you can’t control, your facial contours, the wrinkles, skin color, hair texture, etc, but there are lots of other things that you can do to embellish what you’ve got.

Apart from cosmetics (thank God, you don’t need to use them heavily in office) and perfumes, hair coloring is an absolute must for the grey heads.

If you look at this positively, it’s, I guess, a question of choosing between looking what you are and what you want to be.

I began initially with mehndi as it was a low-cost option without any side-effects. But the problem with mehndi is that it produces an unnatural orangish stain which doesn’t look nice. So I soon graduated to chemical dyes. I tried many brands,  Garnier, Revlon, Godrej, etc. For some time, at least, they fulfilled the purpose for which I used them.

A few years later, I had to return to mehndi as my hair had got severely damaged. This time, I used Indigo powder paste also each time after using mehndi to change orange color to natural black brown. During this period, I used many other things too, such as amla and shikakai powders, egg, curd, etc. My hair loved it absolutely! I could see that from the significant improvement in both length and thickness of my hair.

But now there were new challenges. I no longer had enough time for myself because of long working hours. It was not possible to spend weekends with my hair slathered with dyes for 4-6 hours. In winters, it was much more difficult because of my chronic allergic rhinitis problems.

Two months ago, my husband gifted me a few sachets of a ‘natural’dye that I had never heard of earlier (Noni Black Hair Magic). He bought them for me from the International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. He said,”Try these. I saw a lot of people buying them today. They are claiming that this is safe and  will give your hair the color you want in just 10 minutes. All you have to do is massage it into your hair like a shampoo and wash it off after 10 minutes.”

I tried it out that evening itself with a lot of misgivings as it seemed to be a Chinese product and my experience with Chinese products has not always been a very happy one.

I was pleasantly surprised as it worked out the way it was supposed to. It did the coloring without spoiling my hair.

Here are the pics…

1. Starting point

2. Dyeing with Noni Black Hair Magic (I used 2 sachets. They come with gloves).

3. I emptied the whole lot into my hair with glove-covered hands.

4. Finally, 30 minutes later, after washing and rinsing with water, white and grey turned to black…

5. Here I am, in office, the next day with several years knocked off my age…


Today, as I share my happiness with all my dear readers about being joyfully alive, I would like to conclude by saying that every challenge gives us an opportunity to achieve what we have come to this world for and you just have to accept it with dignity.

In case you need more information about this product, look at this pic of the carton…