The Tale of F-Day : Tathagata Bhowmik

Amidst Apprehensions and Aspirations – Tathagata Bhowmik, NMIMS, ICICI Bank.

Suit up! Barney Stinson’s memorable quirks in a suit and his incessant obsession with ties and blazers had a charm of its own. I would be lying if I would say that Barney Stinson and Harvey Specter from Suits did not inspire me to take up a career option that would involve a lot of crisp white shirts, pleated trousers and bright ties. They showed me how sharp a person can look in a suit and how the intellectual acumen of that person increases to an outsider. It is a matter of perspective but no one can dismiss the aura of a suit in a room. And when a room is filled with 70 odd suited up people reverberating the same aura it becomes a little intimidating. This is how my First Day began.

I entered the auditorium of ICICI Bank headquarters in Bandra Kurla Complex and was greeted with a somber, nascent and captivating smell. It was the smell of apprehensions, excitement and aspirations. Oh, I am interning at ICICI Bank in the Human Resource Department. Having HR genes engrained in my veins by the course structure in my college I started to read and study people. It was a wide range of facial expressions. The front tables were all occupied by people who looked more eager to make an impression than to indulge in interactions with content. The middle tables were occupied by moderately ambitious leaders who looked like they wanted to achieve and learn a lot during this internship but also had their guards up against probable indecent work and exploitation by the managers. The people in the end looked complacent and at ease with everything that was happening around them. They did not have a lot of apprehensions and were looking forward to two months of paid holiday with some knowledge transfer as an added bonus. However the backbenchers can never be discarded from the equation because APJ Abdul Kalam had once said that, “The frontbenchers will continue to shine till the day the backbenchers don’t participate in class. “ I was at the middlemost table.

The day began with an introductory speech by a HR Manager. He aligned all of our expectations to the policy of the company. The culture was explained in great details and we were briefed that the culture constituted an integral part of our learning experience. I was a little shocked (pleasantly) to hear about an open door approach policy in ICICI. Being a banking and financial institution I thought the culture would be really stringent and would harp on formal interactions and encounters. The culture looked like a breath of fresh air. The session on culture was followed by a session on the history of the bank. It was very informative in the beginning. As more and more information was ploughed into our head, the saturation point for many was reached and they started dreaming about the history after a while. Literally. Water and chocolates on the tables acted as efficient energy enhancers and the sleepyheads quickly recovered from the dismal show of attention. The session on history was followed by sessions on the structure of the bank, various divisions and the expectations of the managers from us. The most sparkling and wonderful feature of all the sessions were the food that was provided in between the sessions. They somehow increased the appeal of the session tenfold. If I start describing the food it will make everyone hungry so I shall spare the sadism. In one sentence, the food was a great catalyst in making the induction a memorable day. They know when and where to hit to ensure the productivity is surplus. Apart from the knowledge transfer sessions we also had an activity round where all the interns were divided into 4 different groups. A game of Prisoner’s Dilemma was played with different context and connotations. The lesson imparted was that the organization valued teamwork more than individual aspirations. Increasing individual payoffs is not as important as maximizing the team’s efforts and returns. The fact that they used an activity to engrain this behavior was very effective. Every one could analyze their behavior in the activity and judge where they stand in respect to the values and beliefs of the organization.

The next part consisted of one to one interaction with project mentors. My project on Human Resources involves a lot of behavioral theories and psychology. Luckily my project mentor shares similar interests. Our initial conversation ranged from Freud’s psychoanalysis to Derrida’s Deconstructionism. Debating on our shared love for psychology and sociology made me feel really comfortable. I was immediately charged up about my project at hand and I was convinced that under the guidance of my mentor, it will be more of an exploratory project rather than a mere transactional project. The other event that was really intellectually stimulating was the interaction with the other interns. So many different perspectives, stories and eccentricities merged to form the perfect art. I was convinced that there is so much to learn from everyone and the warmth that was generated in the room post the conversations made everyone feel at home. Families get extended, don’t they?

Amidst the din of computers and jargon heavy conversations I ended the day wondering if I will get lost or I will swim to the shore safely. The excitement of office (I’m a fresher so this is my first office stint) is overwhelming but along with that also comes the probability of stumbling along the way and not being able to reach the end of the tunnel. The first day laid the groundwork for all kinds of probabilities and permutations and combinations. It also showed me that the remote is in my hands. I can either navigate through the cubicles and telephone lines to deliver a thought provoking project or I can harbor cognitive biases and irrational fears to submerge my potential. At the end of the day these two words made me hopeful for the next two months that will define a phase of my life. Suit Up!