Tata I-Systems Scrambles Staff To Impress VIP Client
By Ashwin Sinha
For most IT/ITeS employees who generally sit through induction sessions where company bosses rattle on how much Indians are finding parity with US & UK companies (after all our pay packets are conversions of paltry dollars or euros), here’s a flip side.
On Saturday June, 17, 2006, the Kolkata center of Tata Interactive Systems was declared a working day. And no, it was not to compensate a lost working day due to strikes/bandhs (which, in any case, are almost passé in Buddha’s Bengal).
The V-P of McGraw Hill Education, Alex Mlawsky, was due to visit the Kolkata center for a high-level official meet. Some bright spark in TATA had a last minute idea the VP would be more impressed if he could meet the entire staff. There was no official missive, but SMSes, probably started by the HR manager, started doing the rounds from Friday late evening. It asked men to be come on Saturday in formals, and women in saris. So, cellular companies made a good deal of money through the late evening and night.
The expected visit of the McGraw boss was in any case great news from a long-term client. It meant continued future business for the new Tata business which has been a leading player in the e-learning sector for the last decade-and-half, and boasts of clients like NETg, Peoplesoft, Vodaphone, Skillsoft, Royal Mail, GSK, Quantas airline, University of Phoenix, Citibank, British Airways, London Stock Exchange, Unicef, Baker Hughes. You name the client and the capable staff has delivered to a satisfied customer.
So, as scheduled the V-P and his colleague came, saw, and left. The swank office, the canteen which boasts a beautiful view of Salt Lake, the employees who were dressed up in their best chiffons, silks, cottons, embroidered saris – all impressed the clients. But hey, what were the foreign guests attending the official meeting wearing? Of course casual clothes. How else would be people attired on a Saturday? Most employees, especially the sari-wrapped women, may have been left wondering if a US- or UK-based company would ever do so for any client? And no one’s yet heard of when the Saturday would be compensated.
Perhaps the new slogan of the new communist party should read - Workers of Bengal unite to restrict Saturdays to work and not social functions. And dress down to make foreign clients feel at home.