It’s 4.30 in the morning, and the Hyderabad airport, whilst crowded, is still half asleep. But amongst the crowd of low-energy individuals are 19 pumped up trainees, ready to embark upon one of the most exciting parts of the onboarding. The trip to Les Fontaines for the Consulting Skill Workshop.
Long flight cut short, the lovely weather and beautiful scenery on the way from Charles de Gaulle airport to Les Fontaines was a refreshing start. Everyone was awed by the beauty of the campus, and after a quick detour to the villas to drop off luggage, no time was wasted before the whole team went out to explore the campus, some on cycles and some on foot. The avid photographers in our batch had a field day!
“The Chateau at Les Fontaines, the woods surrounding it and the campus as a whole is a feast for the eyes and a calming influence for the hearts; the sheer tranquillity and beauty of the place helps in creating a conducive and serene learning atmosphere” – Arjun Vijay, E.L.I.T.E. Trainee, 2017
The first day of the consulting workshop was energetic with the trainers Kees and Stefan making the whole session interactive, interesting and insightful. The anecdotes, examples, live demonstration of meeting tools and tasks for us to incorporate them, explained the concepts very well. Over the day we also got a taste of handling different types of clients and audiences through the various presentations based on case studies. And got lots opportunities to work in teams across the various meeting management roles. The night capped off really with interactions with senior leadership of the European team of Financial Services. The face to face conversations in an informal setting not only helped us connect better, but also showed us other facets of a leader.
“The CSW training at Les Fontaines taught us that the best learning happens when we have fun”- Akshat Prakash Verma, E.L.I.T.E. Trainee, 2017
The second day at the workshop was an intense one. The day started with a few revisions of concepts and new concepts being introduced. It then continued with a few more tasks and we were given a project deliverable for the final presentation to be held the next day. The day was full of a lot of information and concepts to be digested and also a strict deadline for submission. The day was declared to have ended at 11 P.M., but of course, past that deadline the whole E.L.I.T.E. team got together at the common area, after the deadline, and discussions ensued on a myriad of topics ranging from work to sports to travel. A strong 2 to 3 hours discussion session and oodles of fun left us all rejuvenated for the next day.
“ ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started’. This was possibly one key takeaway from the CSW training at Les Fontaines” – Shabahat Shakeel, E.L.I.T.E. Trainee, 2017
The final day at Les Fontaines began with light rain that simply uplifted the scenery. The day started off with a few more consulting concepts and we got ready for the final presentation. The final presentation was possibly the highest learning point for a lot of us. For every team, the panel provided a completely different mood, different challenges and different situations. With every group, we learnt the different situations people may face. The facilitators ensured we stepped out of our comfort zone and provided challenging scenarios for each team to handle.
“Les Fontaines has been amazing, if we can imbibe the constructive feedback that we have gotten here, we can move from being consciously incompetent to unconsciously competent”- Akshat Govil, E.L.I.T.E. Trainee, 2017
It was also Talent Week at Les Fontaine and we hence we got to mingle with leaders across the spectrum. Over 250 people from across 19 countries had come to take part in learning programs and as part of Talent Week, we all collaborated to advance the Group's Social Responsibility agenda via the co-creation challenge. With such a learning environment and packed agenda, we also took great pictures to capture our experiences and participated in the MoveFifty run held there as well. Bill, Shabahat and Akshat Govil also won prizes for winning Social Media Influencer of the day!
“It has been absolutely amazing to witness to all the corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives especially the co-creation challenge” – Nimit Garg, E.L.I.T.E. Trainee, 2017
The time in Les Fontaines ended swiftly and we all had mixed feelings leaving the beautiful place. We were sad to leave the beautiful campus and at the same time taking away lovely memories and learnings. The city of Paris, gearing up for Bastille Day, was a sight to see, its grand architecture, and inspiring locations on display. The evening was capped off with a graduation dinner with the E.L.I.T.E. core team, a time for some final parting thoughts before we embark upon the rotations and projects.
All’s well that ends well. And this felt just right for the onboarding process. The five weeks of intense and enriching experience was overwhelming. At the end of the five weeks, people were brimming with excitement to start their rotations, with meetings scheduled and agendas set for the upcoming weeks. And as we take a plunge into the rotations, we sign off, for now. We will return with more experiences and more stories.
Till then, Au Revoir!