As about 75 blazered, pastel color shirts donning, determined, excited, nervous, clean shaven, make up wearing heads simultaneously stretched out their necks from the two AC buses at 8 in the morning on the 4th April, 2017 to catch the first glimpse of the impressive ICICI BKC tower, my edgy and eager self somewhat proudly made part of the band. I plugged out my earphones while still noiselessly humming a-little-too-groovy for that morning “Jailhouse Rock” Presley number.
We alighted our transport. I, for the first time, signed in my name at the security gate, after a mini struggle with my collar and my orange lanyard, managed to string my ID card reading my name and “HR intern ICICI” around my neck, and then flashed a huge smile at the security guard, well, because I felt just like it. With a dash of affected confidence and a smug smile, I walked towards the inner entrance. The door elegantly parted automatically to welcome me into the great hall separating the two towers of that beautiful architecture and a gush of cold air blew in my face reminding me of being thankful of the gray blazer I had grudgingly shouldered in the morning because somewhere in my frightened brain it was an ominous symbol of the beginning of my corporate life. But I needn’t have feared because to my pleasant surprise my summers turned out just fine and all my misgivings were gladly proven false as I entered the state-of-the-art auditorium for the induction programme, gracefully made up for our welcome. A genteel turban-clad man with a pleasant baritone introduced himself as one of the DGMs of the HR Department and with his kind, warm and welcoming first words, my summer romance with ICICI in the “Summer of ‘17” started.
The two days of induction quickly passed by with a slew of introductions taking place at both formal starts of sessions as well as informally during breaks with officials of ICICI and my co-interns. But the moment of frenzy and excitement came when we finally got our projects at the end of the induction with the details of our mentors. With a more-than-slightly elevated heart beat, I started reading the mail and then quickly skipped straight to the project title section out of impatience. It read “Design new age employee communication for HR philosophy.” Now, two months later, my most important lesson from that experience is to never judge anything at the first instance, to never take anything at its face value for how simple, tough, interesting or boring an idea, a topic or even a person is or can be. My project title sounded elementary enough then but as each day I delved more into the world of employee/internal communication (IC) in ICICI as also in the vast literature on it, I discovered a whole new creature, a mammoth discipline waiting to be studied, explored, acknowledged and implemented in organisations.
Once the first waves of excitement receded, though its vestiges clearly animated my aspects and coloured my countenance, the hygiene list from a kind senior came into my head and I contacted my mentor first thing next requesting his time the following day. I could hardly have asked for a better mentor and a better co-mentee for my time at ICICI or even otherwise as there we forged a friendship that’ll always make all my moments and time at ICICI fonder in my reminiscence for years to come.
There, I said it guys. You better treat me for such fond words.
From there the journey into IC @ ICICI started. Several times during the induction, the stress on open door policy at ICICI had been highlighted but my sceptic MBA trained mind needed to test waters before taking them on their word. And what a surprise I received the very next day when I walked into one of the DGM’S office to discuss my project with just a knock at the door and a nervous but confident smile on my face and he kindly indulged me straight for three-quarters of an hour, discussing my perspective on IC and guiding me on the expectations from the project. And here came the second important learning for me at ICICI. At no point in time were my more-often-than-not even fanciful ideas ever rejected outright or at all for that matter but discussed each time with patience which allowed me to voice my opinions, concerns and refutations as comfortably as my doubts and questions. Nowhere was I handheld into taking my project in any direction but I was instead asked to scope out my project at will, based on my understanding, and was then given all the support and resources at each stage to head in that direction.
Extended conversations followed, hundreds of ideas popped up and were archived for later use, some of my old faculty was contacted and each was ever so kind as to lend me a hand at each roadblock I faced and finally the presentation days neared. The working hours didn’t change but the amount of work shot up. Going home was no longer about resting but about working a little more. And then on the final day, in front of the SGM of HR and all his one downs in his air conditioned, 9th floor stately office, sitting beside him on his coffee table, IC@ICICI was served with flavors borrowed from various theories of communication, latest trends in Internal Communication and a dash of behavioral economics. I crooned my communication model and solution to the party. And then with bated breath, I looked around for their questions and comments and Srirang (SGM) awarded my eagerness with an appreciation for my presentation.
The worst was over, but so was the best. My stint at ICICI, my summer fling had come to an end or so I thought. But just when we were all saying our goodbyes and somewhat sadly booking our cabs to the airport, a GM called me and a co-intern to his cabin. He held out his hand, wished us luck and just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, he affectionately handed out a hardbound copy of “Humans of Bombay”, one to each of us with an inscription in his name and the following words I’ll always remember, “Our job as HR Managers is not just about managing our ‘resources’ but also about preserving the humanity in the organisation as we develop our ‘resources’ each day.”
And with those words, when I thought everything was over, a new chapter for me began.