I was in Delhi, staying at our company’s swank guest house on Prithviraj Rd.
The IPO road shows were on, and we had just concluded a successful press conference earlier that day.
It was about 9pm when the phone rang. I answered not knowing who the caller was.
“Good evening Atul. I hope I am not disturbing you. I am calling from Bangalore and was wondering if you are looking for a change. My firm is into consulting and IT services and we are the second largest in the world. We are currently looking to hire a person for the role of Marketing Director for India. Would you be interested?”
We chatted for a while about the role, and I told the lady that I would need a few days to think it over.
Back in Mumbai, I evaluated my options, and discussed it with my family.
I was really fond of the company I was working for but needed a job which paid more!
Living in rented accommodation was fine, but my wife was keen that we bought our own place.
Unfortunately, at the salary I was getting, no one was willing to give me a housing loan large enough to invest in something we liked 🙁
So, I called the HR lady who had first gotten in touch and said that I would be keen on exploring the opportunity further.
In two days, she reverted saying that I would be interviewed by the Global Marketing Services Lead, who was then in the UK.
For the video interview, I went off to Express Towers, where the firm interviewing me had their consulting offices.
As it so happened, the video link failed to work well, and I ended up speaking to the global marketing services lead on the phone. 🙂
It was a 10- minute chat and the lady said that she was fine with me coming on board, but that I would have to do a few more rounds of interactions with different people. Reason being that this role encompassed brand marketing, advertising, PR, internal communications, investor relations and research. In that sense it was a vast canvas – something to my liking.
A trip to Delhi followed to meet the India MD, who headed the consulting business. This interaction lasted 20 minutes. Nothing work related was asked.
Then followed a call with the firm’s global PR lead – a lady from New York. It was somewhat irksome because she only wanted me to sell any shares I would likely to hold post my then company’s IPO.
I flatly refused and said, a little impolitely, “My stock portfolio should not be of concern to anyone.”
I don’t know if she was happy about my statement, but there was no way anyone was going to influence me in my choice of stocks to buy/ hold!!
Post that call, I was not sure where this would be headed, but then I got another call from the HR lady, who asked me to fly down to Bangalore to meet with the Geographic Services lead and the marcom team.
The Geographic Services lead was a very charming person, and she spent about 30 minutes chatting about what they were expecting from the person they hired. In turn I was very transparent and shared with her the details of certain challenges I had dealt with in the recent past. She appreciated that and then asked me to meet the marcom team.
“I want to see how they react to you, and if you can relate to them.”
This was a new one to me – meeting the team even before an offer had been made!
So, RM (the Geographic Services lead, who is also the current Chairperson of the firm in India), got the team together and we chatted and joked for about an hour. I honestly did not know where this was leading up to.
Suddenly, RR (one of the team) asked me, “Atul, would you like a cup of coffee?”
I nodded vigorously and said that I had been wanting to take a break for some time now. 🙂
Hearing that, the meeting was paused while the two of us went to the cafeteria and chatted over a couple of coffees.
(Unknown to me, during the break, RM was sitting with other members of the team and getting their feedback about me from them).
RR and me, over coffee, chatted about everything under the sun – the kind of music I liked, my favourite films, the food that I enjoyed.
I, in turn asked RR about the workplace, the team, and about RM as a boss.
“We slog a lot, but are all chilled out folks, Atul”, was his response.
Break over, RR and I returned to the conference room, where the team had reconvened.
“What is your assessment, RR”, asked RM.
I was more than a little bemused. Because I had never known future team members playing a role in hiring the person they would be reporting to. 🙂
“Atul knows his stuff and is a fun person. I would love to work with him”, was RR’s response.
That was it.
“Welcome to the firm, and the team”, said RM with a smile on her face. “You will get your appointment letter in the next hour”, she added.
When I got the letter in hand, RR smiled mischievously and said, “There are some advantages when you get to interact with the team. But our team would honestly love to have you on board.”
RR and I have stayed friends over the years, but I will never forget his words. Neither will I forget the unique process of hiring people by having your potential colleagues evaluate you!!
That is how I relocated to the ‘City of Gardens – Bangalore’.
Incidentally, I also finally got a loan to buy a house in MumbaiJ.
- Be polite, yet firm, if you believe in something and disagree with another.
- Learn from the interview process followed by different organisations. Some will surprise you, as this one did.
- Be yourself in any interview. Many of us try being something we are not, possibly in order to ‘impress’ the interviewer.
- A little light heartedness and fun at the workplace is required.
- In any team, try and forget hierarchies. Just come together as colleagues who respect each other to do a good job.
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