Shaju Nair had never imagined he would come this far so early in life. After spending eight years at Mphasis, today at 29 he is supervising a team of 350 members and heads operations (a rank equivalent to associate vice president) at Pune. He was an early starter, and when still in college participated in a referral programme of Pagepoint Services (a Motorola joint venture) along with one of his classmates. This was his first brush with a job where he learnt the nuances of working in a team. Later, he joined the organisation as a service coordinator. Over and above his deliverables, he managed to be part of a marketing project for the organisation, and also participated in Motorola showcase during that year. His stint at Pagepoint taught him the art and importance of multi-tasking.
His desire to enhance his skills landed him in a better job at BPL. But destiny had other plans for him. After three months at BPL, the opportunity to serve Mphasis BPO, which was in its nascent stage, came his way. "BPO was a very new concept then and quite frankly, I didn't even know what I was getting into. I had just finished college then and joined the organisation as I had a customer service background," says Nair.
A blissful beginning
In 2000, Nair joined Mphasis at an entry-level position of customer service executive, never even dreaming the success this move had in store for him. In fact, at the time of his joining, not much was known about the BPO industry. It was the good pay packet that had enticed him. He had not even thought of making it a long-term career. "I joined this industry because of the care it offered to the people. The ambiance and the infrastructure were good. I remember it was the time when Mphasis had just 20 employees. I have grown with Mphasis," Nair reminisces.
His smart working ways won him accolades and he was promoted to the post of senior customer service executive around October 2001. He put his ability to multi-task to the best use in Mphasis. The concept of process trainer was unheard of during those days. He began conducting training in batches for new recruits and got back to calls post-training sessions. This way he not just improvised on his skills but created an opportunity that was in the interest of the organisation besides his own. The company eventually promoted him as a team leader after six months. Mphasis then initiated the 'unit manager' concept and he cleared the development centre test to become a unit manager. There was no looking back thereafter, both for the company and Nair. The BPO industry was flourishing and Mphasis started getting new clients. Nair then decided to move to a new process, which was in its pilot phase, and helped the process transition from Bangalore to Pune.
Around May 2003, Mphasis provided him an opportunity to turn around a failing process and manage the operations of the same in Bangalore. He was able to metamorphose the process to meet all the targets in just six months ably supported by his leaders and peers. He got the president's (Mphasis) award and was among the top 50 performers in the company during that phase. He was promoted to the post of senior manager operations in April 2005.
The turning point
As luck would have it, Mphasis gave him another chance to prove his calibre and asked him to be the delivery head of a process in its initial stage in a completely new location of Ahmedabad. Nair did not believe in resting on past laurels so he grabbed the opening only to realise later that it was truly the turning point of his career. He took the process to great heights from scratch and successfully led a team of about 500 associates and was responsible for service delivery. After being content witnessing the performance of the process he returned to Pune, his hometown, to his earlier position.
Nair now leads a team of 350. From being one among the 350 to leading those 350, the journey has been quite satisfying for Nair. He says it feels great to be at the top.
The biggest challenge that Nair faced was to take over a completely new location and start building relationships from scratch. "Everyone has their own style of working; my challenge was to get desired results without being a nuisance for the new team, at the same time, ensuring that we delivered on our commitments. The fact that I moved from one city to another did not help either. Believe me! I have had sleepless nights but the secret was to be at it, all the time. The best part was, I think, that all my peers had great respect for me and encouraged me. The feeling was mutual. All my leaders were great inspiration and trusted my abilities," states Nair.
So was it entirely due the hard work or was Nair simply fortunate? He replies, "Destiny does play an important part, you have to be at the right place at the right time. But having said that I would like to add, I saw a potential in each and every opportunity that came my way."
Recollecting the amount of hard work he has put in to reach this far, Nair says, he is a workaholic and would work for 14-15 hours a day continuously for three-four months every time he was given a new assignment, to ensure its success.
Awards and recognition Nair was a consistent performer and this is what contributed the most to his success. He never worked for recognition but was grateful to the management for acknowledging his efforts with rewards. The awards acted as spurs. It's not just once but many times that he was conferred with some title or the other. He was the Performer of the Year 2002. He was honoured with Vintage Award for showing exemplary performance and growth in the year 2003. He felt on the top of the world when he received the President's Club Award. He added another feather to his cap by successfully creating the quality management system for the process and certification of ISO 9001:2000 for a new location.
"My family was supportive throughout and participated in my highs and lows. The awards made my mother happy. And thankfully, I have not disappointed her much," reminisces Nair.
Five years down the line Nair wants to be a relationship manager. Twenty years down the line he wants to start a school for the underprivileged besides, administering a business of his own. Nair believes, he is a born entrepreneur and eventually wants to be just that.
What is that key characteristic that shaped his career? Nair says he has never thought about it but his motto in life has always been, "Talent is nothing it's all about passion and attitude. Every morning I come to office with the right attitude. Balancing it with equal amount of passion I handle all my responsibilities. I was not born with it. I was not intelligent or extra smart in school. I did pretty decently in studies."
Act of benevolence
Nair wants to reciprocate God by doing his bit for society. In his spare time, he assists and trains security guards who are qualified enough to become BPO executives. He has managed to place one such person. He wants the differently-abled people to join the BPO industry as he thinks it suits them best. He is in the initial phase of tying up with NGOs that nurture such people and would like to coach them once the deal is settled.