A colleague recently asked me what I most cherish about my stint in my current workplace. I was not prepared for this question. There are many reasons which have contributed to making my current journey special. I choose 9 for a reason, which have bonded me to my current workplace. When you have worked for as long as I have in my current organisation, you can’t help but believe in the power of the number 9. The company I work in has 18 in its title, the individual digits add up to 9.
1. The unique privilege of being involved in a start-up is you are among the few responsible to shape it, from scratch. The prospect of creating something new, is truly exciting. Much like your house, which is built with your inputs and customised to your preferences, has a very special feeling once it is ready and has turned out the way you imagined it. Moving in to an already built place, however well it may be, is just not the same. My previous job was in a brand which was already established and successful when I joined. It was not just a safe company to join, it was then considered to be the best in the business of news television. My present company was unbranded when I signed in, though its parent group was known. It had a working title which was yet to be registered. Being a founder member, I got the opportunity to be involved in every aspect of decision-making. That experience has remained invaluable till this day.
2. Leaving my last job, where I had worked very hard to prove myself and reach a leadership position to starting afresh all over again where the vast majority had not even heard of me, was not easy. It not just meant stepping out of my comfort zone, it needed me to do it all over again. This experience of testing myself once again helped me to relearn and grow and also set aside any complacency which may have set in, if I had continued to stay in my last job.
3. Building a team from scratch, contributing to setting up a new workflow, having a say in the technology to be adopted and, most importantly, playing a small role in forming a new culture, allowed unmatched sense of ownership. It also prepared me to be completely accountable.
4. When the founders provide you an opportunity to have a ringside view in most of the strategic decision-making, you can only feel blessed. To be in the same room where the top leadership is evaluating each and every pitch made by India’s best advertising agencies on the messaging, USP and creative communication, is a learning experience of a lifetime when you are as young, as I was then.
5. Joining a start-up meant signing in to a shared dream conceived by the founders, sharing it with prospective or new employees who you meet while interviewing them for a job. And those who have already logged in to the new entity. A decade of work experience before I stepped into this role had familiarised me with the good practices and the must-avoids. All I had to do was to roll it out in all the teams I was directly involved in. Every team leader I picked had to sign in to the shared vision. Each one was conveyed the importance of being guided by these working principles which they just had to follow in their day-to-day communication. Very soon, purely by conforming to these unwritten guidelines, our workplace became the best place to work in. Fifteen years later, the same guidelines have helped keep attrition to a bare minimum.
6. Hiring the right people is so critical in a service industry where I work in. Processes and systems do matter here, but it’s finally the people who make the place. It is immensely satisfying to lead a ‘dream team’, as I do. I sincerely feel that if it is humanly possible to get something done, my team can do it. It is these people who drive me and keep me going. They are part of my extended family and seeing them grow and prosper is priceless.
7. I have been blessed to have the unstinted support of all my bosses who have trusted me and allowed me a free hand to do what I feel is right. Of course, not everything has gone exactly as I wanted but when you are able to execute nine out of ten things the way you want to, you are in the right place. I consider myself blessed because I have over the years disagreed with my bosses in private and public, on many occasions been the lone dissenting voice and in a couple of instances, refused to follow their instructions but to their credit, each of them has let me be and allowed me to follow my conviction without taking offence.
8. All things remaining equal, it is passion that makes the difference between great and good. I am lucky to work with some talented colleagues who share my passion to create a difference. No organisation can claim to be the unique repository of talent. There are gifted professionals in every workplace. But I do believe I have some of the most passionate professionals in my team. We inspire each other and share common values of creativity and excellence.
9. Last, but not the least, I am the first employee in this company I joined. The group company has many who have been there much longer. But here I am referring to the one I joined. I did not know this. A colleague in the finance team mentioned this to me many years ago, as part of a ‘water-cooler conversation’. He pointed out that while my employee code is 3, the gentlemen who were coded 1 & 2 had moved on many years ago. He also mentioned even while they were around, they were directors in the company. So in an indirect way, I was the first employee even then. Being the first employee now, in every way, is a special feeling. Knowing, this is how it will always be till I check out, is even better.
I write this as we step into 2021. A new year is an opportunity to start afresh. To do things you have always wanted to but for some reason could not get yourself to. To focus on the priorities which deserve your time and attention. To value the little and big things you always had, which you may have taken for granted. To cherish every moment of good health and luck till it lasts. To recognise and thank those who have made a difference in your lives. To make a positive difference in the lives of others, not just your near and dear ones but those who are devoid of privileges and resources. To spend time on things which are short-lived and which may never provide a second opportunity in future. The moment is now. Start anew. Start afresh.
Best Wishes for a new way of living your life. Make the most of it. Happy New Year.