I have had a three-year stint in retail banking in a scheduled commercial bank but corporate banking and operations were all new to me and it is with slight trepidation that I entered the towering awe-inducing twelve storeyed building of Royal Bank of Scotland in Chennai. It was a mixed bag of excitement and nervousness on the first day but it helped to have a classmate joining the internship along with me who incidentally happens to be an ex-RBS employee and had great things to say about the organization. The proceedings began with a formal on boarding session through a video conference with all the interns across the offices in India and senior leader’s brief about the RBS way of internship, the work culture etc.
Once the formalities and document verification was done our ID cards were issued and in a matter of few hours we transitioned from visitors to employees of RBS. Then came the most memorable part of the meeting with my project mentor who was the Vice-president of the retail and personal banking division. she set the expectations for the project and at the same time, I was given an opportunity to communicate what I wanted as takeaways from this experience and my future goals. I was looking forward to the project which was a convergence of technology and banking as both are my areas of interest and the project itself had a huge impact on the cost savings and efficiency of a particular process. After the brief, she asked me for my first impression of the project and how I will go about it. She seemed very welcoming and receptive to my ideas and introduced me to the team who ensured I was given all resources, point of contacts and a clarity on the deliverables. Since internships are like plug and play for two months this ensured that I was able to smoothly and quickly settle down in my role without any difficulties.
This seems silly but the huge workspace with three hundred people working in a floor in perfectly symmetrical cubicles came as a bit of surprise to me as I was used to working in a bank branch with at most fifteen people. It helped that there were coffee vending machines at each point so there were ample opportunities to network, something like ‘coffee pe charcha’.
My colleagues made it a point to make me feel at home from day one and I have never gone without company for a short recess of lunch, dinner or tea. Having two other interns also in the same office was a blessing not only because they were going through the same process and emotions but also because of these little brainstorming sessions we had on our projects and our long discussions on life in general.
Also a word of thanks to the perfectly timed office cabs which ensured I got to my PG before the end of the first innings of the IPL matches. RBS has a strict no-take homework policy and it was a refreshing break from the strenuous midnight project submissions at b-school. Suffice to say the work-life balance at RBS ensured that I caught up on my long pending watch list of Netflix shows and l had weekends all to myself to explore ‘Namma Chennai’ - visiting the landmark Marina beach, catching up with old friends in the sprawling malls, watching a music concert or two and relishing the spicy potato spring rolls of the serene Besant Nagar beach and the famous for spice Sukku Bhai biriyani.
All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy but my work was progressing reasonably well thanks to my mentor’s guidance who despite her hectic schedule made it a point to find time for me. Finally, the D day arrived and I had to make a concise presentation of my two months’ work to the senior leaders. A few of my stakeholders from London team also took part in the same. The final presentation was not in a typical PowerPoint followed by a grilling Q&A fashion but was more of a discussion session and I was made to feel at ease. The ideas and questions were thrown around and it was a give and take learning experience for me. It gave me a sense of satisfaction to know that my work made a difference and it was a huge morale boost to be appreciated by highly experienced leaders and domain experts.
In short, the two months were absolutely amazing not just because of the handsome stipend and tremendous learning experience and exposure, but also because I made quite a few friends and have had some genuine laughs and good times in my brief stint at RBS