I recently rejoined the organization I had been part of for six and half years and had quit in the autumn of 2011.
It was a mixed feeling that I was engulfed with when I settled into my cubicle – not very far from the very spot I was last seated in, years ago, surrounded by my 8 team members (all of who had left the company since my leaving – with one returning too, after a 5-year stint in a different organization).
I was undoubtedly hit by that expected wave of nostalgia when surrounded with those familiar sights –the cubicles, the old library, the cafeteria, the faces of the rare few who had never left the company, and surprisingly even those few wall posters that hadn’t been removed in over 6 years.
And yet, I knew in the past six years, we had changed – both the company and I.
When I first joined the company in early 2005, the excitement of any new joiner didn’t wane in weeks. The first day at work comprised a fabulous day long induction program, which included interactive sessions with the top management (covering all the CXOs and Vice Presidents of that time) – fun filled, yet enlightening. They narrated their vision, the company’s growth story and what made them unique – and yes, the company was unique – in culture, outlook and attitude towards its customers and workforce.
All those in my peer group and I were youngsters in our early twenties who had graduated less than a year earlier. We felt privileged to be part of the organization – a relatively young one that had found phenomenal success, and we wanted to be part of its success story too.
In the years since, work happened at a break-neck pace and yet it was still fun and enervating without a dull idle moment. While the company went from strength to strength, so did its employees. The company had carved a niche for itself in a small domain and ruled it while employees who were associated with the company long enough always found themselves to be in demand, with lucrative job offers (often unsolicited) coming their way.
In the six and half years I worked there, I went through the steepest learning curve of my life. When I finally quit, it was one of the hardest farewells of my life – on one hand I was off to fulfill a dream of studying full-time in a world class university, yet on the other hand, I was leaving the organization in which I had not only cut my teeth in the corporate world, but had also built so many lasting relationships.
Change, they say, is the only constant in life.
The time I had left, the company had already started going through a rough patch, primarily due to an acquisition that didn’t go too well and left it in huge debts.
Things got worse barely a year later; one thing led to another and before long an organizational rejig happened that resulted in the entire founder-management team leaving the company for good.
An exodus of employees too followed in the years since – I spoke with a few of them those who left and their words echoed the same message – “It’s not just that same company anymore”.
Things did turn around for the company eventually, and it seems the ostensibly tough-as-nails new management team did find a way to get rid of the debts and make the company profitable again.
In six years, the face of the company changed drastically but what mattered was that it survived.
Likewise, the past six years has been a transitional phase in my life too.
After spending an eventful year and half at the immemorable Warwick University and being gifted a hard-earned MBA, an unexpected turn of events led me to return to India following my graduation and after languishing without a job for 6 months in an economic downturn, I took up a project management role that gave me a chance to live and work almost a year in Uganda – new place, new people and new perspectives.
I returned to India from Uganda in mid-2014 and I found the drive to take my writing more seriously and published my first book, Kaleidoscopic Lives, in 2015; it was the realization of a dream I had cherished since I was in my early teens.
It was tough balancing writing with my regular day job and I made the best of lean periods between projects to work on my books. There were numerous personal trade-offs made, to make time for writing. As an Indie author, it only gets worse when you are responsible for everything from writing to designing and marketing. Being one of the most read writers in a company that had over 110,000 employees worked to my advantage though – I built a dedicated set of readers from within the company itself.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think of diversifying into non-fiction writing at that time and Book #2 would never have happened had I not laboured my way to earn an acclaimed professional certification and was wrongly denied a reimbursement of costs due to a technical glitch. I had to leverage that knowledge someplace and had to make up for my investment – both time and money. When I realized I had enough on me to write a guide-book, ‘Be a PMP Ace in 30 Days’ was born.
Book #3 “300 Practice Questions for the PMP Exam” was a follow-up title that did rather well and even helped the previous book sell and established me as an unwilling so-called ‘expert’ on the subject – a title that accidentally befell me when I was for a while the most read writer on Quora for the PMP Exam topic and both my books started hovering regularly in the top 20 bestsellers list for the PMP Exam.
I realized that writing non-fiction was mostly about creating tangible value for readers by articulating my knowledge on a topic in an immensely readable manner and I thus planned for Book #4 – “The Ultimate Options Trading Strategy Guide for Beginners” – the writing of this was easier since I this was a topic I was well versed in for over 10 years. This turned out to be the first book of mine that hit #1 on any chart (and thankfully is still there as I write this) – reason being it was hard to find a book otherwise that explained options trading in layman’s terms.
Life isn’t a bed of roses and in these six years, I had my share of troubles: personal trauma, many conflicts, moments of self-doubt, and a period when I had an empty bank account, and a student loan, that hung over my head like Damocles’ sword, with only freelance student assignments to sustain myself.
Yet looking back at these six years, life wasn’t too bad – bottom line was that I earned a valuable degree from one of the best Universities in Europe, a valuable professional certification, published 4 books and earned some reputation as an author, worked for 4 years in a role of my choice, and experienced life in two different continents (outside my own).
I realized on my second coming, twelve and half years since my first day in the company, that we both were different from the time we were last associated. We are older, soberer and the way I see it, wiser than what were from the time we parted.
We had our ups and our downs and yet we did both gracefully survive everything time threw at us.
And I know that things might not be exactly the way they were many years ago, but I have faith that we will still have a fruitful association.
The company may have a new logo and new leaders, and I may have a new employee ID, but in the end what matters is how we can make a difference to each other – and I have a feeling we will…