New Places, New Faces, and A Lot Learned!

By Susmita Sen

When borders were closed and restrictions were well in place to stop a rampant virus in its tracks, the world was forced to sit still and take time to think. With clear minds and an outlook that changed for many of us, we embark on new journeys generating knowledge and learning. Although we missed global travel during the pandemic, we’re back to it now with gusto. We all have various roles to play in organisations and recently, mine took me to the USA. The trip was enlightening as I had the opportunity to meet people (something I love to do), some, for the very first time. 

Meeting Face to Face

For the better part of two years, humans have had to walk around with covered faces, or not indulge in meeting people in close contact at all. For most of us who are used to interactions by nature of our work, this posed a mental (and physical challenge). My recent trip to the USA was liberating, to this extent, as I landed at my first destination, Chicago. The aim of the first leg was to meet our university clients, and Michael and I did that, whilst armed with a much-needed coffee. After a fruitful meeting (on Zoom and off) in which hybrid models of working were discussed, we signed off with a rewarding day behind us. 

Meeting Details

It is important to highlight the importance of the meeting, as it has some bearing on remote work which is now becoming the normal way of life. Learning about interventions is a vital need, aimed at building employee engagement. In the area of remote work, engaging remote employees with inclusion as a top priority makes for a seamless employee experience. This increases productivity. Additionally, the democratisation of learning in the workspace is vital, and this can be achieved by fueling and facilitating the learning requirements of staff. Meetings should be fun, and this one was, ending with a delicious lunch. 

People Awareness

In the field of HR, HR awareness translates to people awareness. With multitasking as a top priority for most HR professionals, both at work, and at home, you tend to extend yourself in this exact field. The DEVEX World event was an event I attended in Washington D.C., as part of my trip. At the event, there were some doers, thinkers, expert practitioners and changemakers, covering a plethora of subjects on a central stage. Planned sessions, with subject-matter experts discussing everything from burning issues like global healthcare to going local with ambassadors of change, turned out to be eye-openers. I met a change evangelist, and founder of Goonj, Anshu Gupta, here. 

Connections and More

Connecting with people and gaining knowledge from them gave the term “connections” a whole new meaning on my trip. The opportunities to interact with many professionals and changemakers, all motivated by a cause and purpose, were there for the taking. Attending the event as part of the Seamless team, with its prominent presence in the not-for-profit sector, gave me the chance to meet with like-minded people. With eco-friendly fashion shows and enlightening parties, a whole new learning experience unfolded before me. The collective goal was sustainable development, and brainstorming sessions ended with an exchange of contact details and promises to stay connected. 

Down to Business

Meeting people isn’t only about employees and colleagues, but clients as well. I had met with a key client a few weeks prior to my trip to India. Now, I was meeting them on their home ground, Washington. Surreal as this felt, I focused as I remembered the client’s engagement of the Seamless team to bring about organisational change. Roadmaps were discussed over lunch (French cuisine) and sensitive delivery deadlines were noted. After meeting other clients, and over a few more meals in the days that followed, key goals of clients in the not-for-profit areas of industry were gainfully discussed. 

Reflections of a 5-Day Trip

If you are alert and sensitive to the places you visit and the people you meet, you can rapidly gain knowledge. America taught me to be independent, and looking out for myself, be it while finding my way, or at client meetings. The wiring of people is different compared to the Indian demographic, with adherence at the top of the list of traits. Among the pleasant surprises I got, there is a human-centric approach to work, especially after the pandemic. The valuable lessons learned from, and after, COVID-19 are global lessons and not particular to any distinct country. This is a common theme that we all share, whether at work, socially or as part of general family life.