Some experiences are better forgotten; some are etched into our memories forever. The summer of 2016 was nothing like I had imagined, but far better than I had hoped it would be. And I feel fortunate to have had an experience which made saying goodbye so hard.
Over the course of eight weeks as an intern at Aon, I was completely immersed in the Talent Development team, which gave me unparalleled exposure to life in the corporate world; an experience of a lifetime.
Initially, I went through a two-day induction which involved a number of informative as well as fun sessions. To help familiarize us with the campus, there was a selfie race, in which we had to take funny pictures at different points. For cultural exposure, there was an art contest. To get to know each other, we played a structured version of truth or dare. The induction itself gave me a first peek into what HR does.
The first project I was introduced to was Parivartan. It is a change management project, the purpose of which is to better the relations between colleagues and support staff like security guards, transport personnel, housekeeping, etc. In this phase of Parivartan, emphasis is being laid on the transport staff and the perceptions the colleagues hold about them. Addressing the concerns of both parties is considered instrumental since around 50% of the colleagues at Aon use the company-provided transport, and therefore interact with the transport personnel on a daily basis.
To this end, our task was to come up with a way to facilitate this. A roadshow by the transport team on all the floors seemed to be the ideal way to hold an informal interaction, which could be informative in an engaging way. After bouncing around a number of ideas, we finally settled on a single prop: a mobile 6’ by 12’ cutout of a bus. The bus would be multifunctional. It would travel to each floor, draw the attention of the crowd, act as a photo booth, and contain snippets of information such as fun facts, important numbers, about the team, and so on. Immediately, I was put on the task to get the bus made by approaching vendors, explaining to them the concept, setting up meetings, and comparing and analysing budgets and designs. Alongside, we were also looking into the branding of the Transport team, and Parivartan as a whole.
While I continued to progress on that, with detailed discussions in weekly Parivartan meetings, I started working on another project, more specific to Talent Development. The objective of the programme was to get more people to start using Aon University- the vast online resource which has over 5000 courses. I was completely immersed in this project; right from the initiation to the implementation of phase 1. Along with a colleague, I worked on the short term and long term plan to incentivize employees in the Finance team to take certain relevant courses online. For phase 1, we designed an innovative team competition. We had to come up with a timeline, a detailed awareness campaign, a sustainable model for the longevity of the competition, brand the entire programme, and finally launch it in an effective way. eLearn@AU was born.
We created teasers to intrigue people, put up posters on the Finance floors, coordinated with the communication team to get our message up on the LCDs, designed attractive mailers to be sent out daily, connected with the managers to get their colleagues on-board, and finally launched the programme in the Finance Town Hall. I am proud to say that 85 teams of four people each registered for the competition, and at that stage my internship unfortunately ended. It was incredible to be a part of a project and see it come to life from the mere idea it was eight weeks ago.
The third project I got involved in, I stumbled upon. My mentor took me along for a meeting and, in hindsight, the project which originated there ended up being the most exciting part of my time at Aon. The meeting was regarding the Extended Leadership Team meeting (XLT) which was to be held on 19-20 May, 2016. The XLT happens to be a meeting of the top 100 executives at Aon India, out of 12000+ employees. Before I knew it, I was a part of the organizing team which had to plan the content and logistics of the entire event. I slowly but surely started to realize what a big deal this was, and the attention to detail that was required in every aspect.
One section of the event was concerning Employee Engagement. Aon places large emphasis on the culture, and all managers are encouraged to drive up their engagement scores. High scores are celebrated, and deep analysis is done on parameters which could be improved. Every year, these scores are displayed in a PowerPoint presentation during the XLT. This year, the organizing team wanted the presentation to be different. My first task was to look for someone to create an animated explainer video for this purpose. Numerous phone calls later, it had been established that no professional was willing to create a video within our budget or short time frame. I decided to take initiative, and started exploring the option to create the video myself. Three hours later, I had managed to make a twenty second video on an online software, which I shyly showed to my mentor and the organizing team for the XLT. They were thoroughly impressed, and I was given the get-go to start working on the video, for which they purchased a software on my recommendation. With the flexibility offered by in-house revisions and additions, what was then intended to be a two minute overview was a more comprehensive, ten minute long video by the day of the XLT.
The response I received for the video was overwhelming. Senior leaders were commending my work, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. As appreciation for a job well done, the MD India wrote me a Thank You card (a huge compliment at Aon), and handed me a bagful of Aon and Manchester United merchandise! The feeling of learning something from scratch because the job demanded it and making a success of it cannot be put into words. Getting to be a part of the XLT was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I will always carry it with me.
My eight weeks at Aon flew by too fast. Everyone who works here absolutely loves it, and that creates a very positive, highly energetic atmosphere on the floor. The culture is phenomenal; friendly, encouraging, almost familial. The senior leaders are humble; no one is ever reluctant to ask for help or provide guidance. Managers are generous with compliments and gentle with feedback. In the competitive, corporate world, Aon is a haven; a home away from home, and that, to me, is instrumental to its charm.
For my first experience at a corporate, I could not have asked for anything better. My mentor and coworkers were always supportive and willing to take time out from their hectic schedules to show me the ropes or lend a helping hand. The work was challenging and the criticism constructive, which motivated me to work harder. The people I interacted with took me in like I was a part of the team, and I can honestly say I was sad to leave. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the team, and the organization, which has got me eager to join the corporate world a year down the line!