Sayali Dandekar

An unforgettable incident had happened, when I was in class 10. It was a horrific scene. The school bus in which we were travelling had caught fire, the bus was engulfed in flames. It was due to the driver’s negligent behaviour; he had carried inflammable liquid bottles in the bus. Six of our batch mates died in that incident and most of us were badly injured with critical burns. Our school management tried to shook this incident off and declined to take any responsibility.  That traumatizing moment in my life pushed me to focus more on my career, to a point where I could say the wrongdoings didn’t bother me anymore.

I had started off my career as intern in realty sector. I used to go to a lot of construction sites to understand how things work. There, sometimes I used to get comments like – “Don’t go over there”, “Don’t stand there…” I felt people around me were being protective, but later on, this had become too repetitive. Back then I used to travel from Navi Mumbai to Mumbai. It took me 1.5 hours to reach office! I never asked for privileges. Their over protectiveness was bugged me a little. Well, I can’t blame them, rather it is mostly due to the way they have been nurtured in society.

Then I had moved to education industry, in one of the biggest groups of Navi Mumbai. I worked there as a campus coordinator. After working there for some time, I felt I could do more and was ready to face more challenges. Later on, I moved to retail industry in 2019. There, it’s not an easy task to deal with people. I was taking care of 3 stores, covering a region. It helped me to learn a lot – how to deal with customers, how to work in real time … There were times, like during the sales or festive season, I had to regularly check the employees, check if the clothes were folded properly, made sure that customers are leaving the shops satisfied…

I had to show extreme understanding while interacting with customers as well as staff. In retail the usual qualification of customer’s sales person is 12th or onwards. I made sure that they understood the ethics properly and followed the guidelines.

After the pandemic occurred, it was very challenging for retail industry as the malls were closed… unlike the IT industry, it was not possible to kick start instantly on virtual platforms. It took some time to get back on track. I was a part of that process. I was in charge of the entire region. We were supposed to teach awareness of being vaccinated, ensure payroll activities were working soundly, and engage employees to work virtually. Our organization recognised my efforts in making things work and awarded me as BEST HR. For some time, post retail, I had a thought of taking a break and do some courses on PR. However, I needed to take care of few things. I felt it was not right time to take a break; what I needed was to push myself, I wanted to go into sector more like pharma and IT, by moving out of my comfort zone. Therefore I joined the next organisation as assistant manager – human resource business partner. In IT industry, the experience is very different from realty, retail and education sector. It is pretty structured, yet dynamic and challenging. This includes uneven attrition rate- where one needs to decide to retain employees and also answer their grievances. 

Working as an HR has taught me a lot of things… I can interact with people who are from high profile background and also with person who is a sales associate. It is really difficult to communicate with a sales associate. I don’t know why HRs have a bad name. From my experience the nature of work is constantly needs to communicate and handle the queries and doubts. We work within the jurisdiction of roles and yet in my tenure, I have received questions, complains and requests that make things a little difficult to process. We also come across harassment cases and any cases that need proving. All the time we need to be on our toes.

In my life, I have pushed me forward by two entities – the bus accident and the other is my inspiration, i.e. my father. There was a time when my father was hospitalized due to Covid. He is a diabetic and heart patient. I was very scared. And it was that time, my interaction with him propelled me forward. “I am proud of you. Keep doing better in life” – these words still remain etched. When I feel down, these incidents will keep me pushing forward.

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