Thursday, 21 April 2016

My 'Anything but Ordinary' moment.

My last post was on Women Empowerment and I am so glad that, when I  pen this one I feel like ONE ...ever more strongly today! 
Why do I feel so? Let me take you through my professional journey of almost 2 decades. In my personal life I am certainly empowered, all thanks to the family but when it comes to having a fine career the empowerment has to come not only from within but from the the organisation as well. 
The purpose of this post is to reach out to any person out there who faces doubts sometimes, just like I did a few months ago. I'll be glad if this can change even one such life. To make you understand my point and how I think, I would like you to check out my professional journey as well as the ideas and sentiments that I value. 

My Professional profile
Ms. Laxmi Todiwan, CHE,  Associate Professor & Head of the Department.
Apeejay Institute of Hospitality, an initiative of the Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd.

An alumnus of the 1997 batch of Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition Mumbai, Ms. Todiwan started her career with the Taj Group of hotels (Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai). After 4 years of working in the hotel operations, she joined her Alma mater as a faculty in the Rooms Division Management, where she worked for 6 years. Equipped with rich experience in hotel operations, teaching and training, she came on board the Apeejay Institute of Hospitality in April 2007 and is currently working with the Apeejay Surrendra Group. She is also an educational counselor and follows her passion of guiding young people in making good career choices. 
She is a Master trainer for the Certified Skill Trainer program of the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) under NSDC. She has conducted training programmes for many corporates, call centres, hotels, banks, CII and for the Additional Skill Acquisition Program (ASAP) of the Government of  Kerala, to name a few.
She has a passion for writing and expresses her thoughts on her blog, The Optimist Diary. She also writes columns in the local newspapers. She hosts official functions as Master of Ceremonies.  Education, training and development are very close to her heart and she champions the cause of the underprivileged and opportunities for women.
Her personal quote is: Be your own Cheerleader!

My concerns:
I am glad that I could build personal life, family and a career all with the strong support of my folks! Journey has had many twists and turns but the river flowed smoothly through the meandering path. When am almost 40! I felt a need to take a stock of my life. I wanted to be on my own doing things that I liked and making whatever difference I could in the lives of people around me. The youth who needed guidance and education or training that could make them employable. Helping the women from the lower socio-economic groups find suitable opportunities to earn means of living or support their families towards a better future. Having traveled extensively across the country, I have seen many such lives. I believe that making someone financially independent is the best form of empowerment. I had to do something on that front but the question was how would I manage it. I had a full time job, two energetic school going boys, in laws in their late 60s, master mariner husband who was out on work nearly 4-5 months at a time. My life was all smooth and me managing things fairly well. But the inner calling had to be answered too. Creating a balance in my personal life and being able to do something for the cherished dream. 
I decided I would've to quit my job.  Create a balance in my life and  have time for the family. That way I could also work on my dream project of setting up a place where I could train people and make them employable.

With these thoughts at the back of my mind, I was all set to put in my papers and leave the organisation that I was associated with for 9 years. If I had to leave, this was the time and I was preparing myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Came the  college Graduation Day! got to meet the chairperson of the company the ever inspiring Ms. Paul. When she asked what was up, I spoke to her all that was going on in my mind and her first reaction was, "We don't want to lose you" then she added, "can't we think of a sabbatical? something that can be of mutual good". These words came as a blessing for me, I had not thought about that possibility. I never knew organisations could actually consider such things. She is looked up to by all, as an inspiration, we all feel proud of her achievements. She commands enormous respect in the fraternity. At that moment nothing else mattered to me, her words of encouragement were like a trophy that I would cherish all my life. I was on a different high!
It may not mean much to most of you but I guess women who are in a life stage like mine will identify with it.

The next day was our appraisals with the MD of the company, who also was at the institute for the function. I shared my plans with him, his reaction echoed that of Ms. Paul's. He asked me to think over and that Corporate HR would get back after discussion and deliberations at their end. I was then totally on double minds.... may be in 100 different ones! I was so sure of quitting, then seeing the value that the organisation gave me, I had no heart to not consider. In fact it was an honour. AVP and Corporate Director HR, contacted me and understood my situation, the mind frame and also the emotional quotient. Ms. Guin was so understanding, that it surprised me as how could she even listen to what one of the 4000 people that she was responsible for. Probably she could and she did! Now I understand why Human Resources is called the Talent management. Finally, I get an email from her that solved almost all my concerns. She managed to work a plan for me that addressed balancing all aspects of my life. It was 'Anything But Ordinary' moment for me. At the Park Hotels, we make that the brand promise to each and every guest. I speak about it to every new employee during the induction, I get to experience that ABO moment myself! Also tells me why the company had won the Gallup best Work place award. At work places just don't manage balance sheets, we manage people, we manage resources, we manage talent!
This has been one of the biggest credits in my Emotional Bank Accounts.  
I carry the message to all women, in fact people in general, to create a value that is important to you, cherish dreams and work towards them.  Express what you sincerely wish to do and see how, not only the work places create favourable work platforms for you but also the entire universe conspires for the same!

Ps. Some pictures are taken from google, for representational purpose, with due credits