Tuesday, June 01, 2010

First day at work

Today is the day we welcome new joinees to our Organization. And one of the Management Trainees is going to be a part of my team.

Takes me back to that specific day, when I started my own career as a Management Trainee. It was July 1, 1988 - about 22 years ago.

The three of us who joined were literally 'marched up' to the head of the Delhi Branch of Britannia Industries. To us rookies, the General Manager looked awesome, somewhat inspiring and I recall that to some extent intimidating.

A full training schedule was drawn up. What followed was a training regime that almost resembled School or College. One made notes of everything one observed on the shop floor. And there were 'on the spot' or 'surprise' vivas !

Trainees were assessed and progress reports were written based on these vivas, reports written by the trainee on every department where the training had been completed.

All reports were written on A4 size paper in neat handwriting and put togehter in a folder and presented within a set deadline.

During training we learnt the science - the chemistry and the entire theory of baking - of bread and biscuits. And then we had to work on the shop floor to actually bake !

The first 'practical' test was when I was asked to bake a loaf of bread. I proudly presented the fresh hot loaf to the Factory Manager, who had one look at it, and promptly asked me to 'trash' it. Reason? A loaf meant to be 800 gms in weight, was only 600 gms. !

Before we knew it, it was time for the final assessment and the big decision - confirmation which meant promotion to the covenanted cadre of the Company, or rejection which meant the trainee had to pack up and leave.

I was summoned to the General Manager -the same old strict looking Boss, for the final assessment interview. One question from him and the earth seemed to slip from under my feet. "What if we don't confirm you?" was the question he asked.

I didn't sleep for the next three or four days and when the suspense became unbearable, I decided to approach the HR Manager 'Harikrishna' or 'Hari' - an absolutely friendly and jovial young man. The types who would put everyone at ease within no time.

I related the jist of the interview to Hari. His facial expression turned to a frown, as I completed my story. When I asked him about what he made of the whole episode, he answered " It's strange he made this remark. Because only yesterday, I read the assessment that he wrote about you, and I found it to be one of the most positive and strong recommendations he has written for anyone..."

So GM had decided to basically derive some sadistic kind of pleasure at my expense....

A shade under 22 years have flown by. Roles are reversed. And now some of us might appear to the youngsters as so senior, serious, intimidating and so on. However unlike that Boss, I have always ensured that every 'fresher' joining a new Organisation and on the threshold of his or her career, is made absolutely comfortable...and that he or she finds friends all around...

The World has changed from what it was 22 years ago. Today, the management trainee has a designated work station, a computer a phone - all waiting for her as she walks in on her first day at work. When I came to work on my first day, personal computers were a thing no one knew, let alone use. Three of us shared one intercom in the Office. And there was one rarely used or almost discarded conference room in one corner of the Factory far away from the main Office, which the three of us called 'our' room.

Well at least we could sit there and smoke without running into the 'Boss' with a cigarette in our hand..!


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