It is not every day that you get to connect with someone who is so passionate about what they do, the role they play in their organization and the unique perspective they bring to the table. Be it their vast and varied prior experiences, their absorbent view of the environment they are surrounded by or their observant eye that catches many a tiny nuance or that which is missing. Add to this the elements of clarity, compassion and communication and you have a priceless combination of some of the best qualities you can imagine in one person. We’ve had one such opportunity to connect with a person who embodies all the above with much ease and carries it on her persona so beautifully. Meet Archana Muthappa, the head of corporate communications at Bangalore International Airport Ltd., who is making heads turn with the work she does and by simply being who she is – graceful, polite and always smiling!
What Is The One Thing That You Love Most About Your Job And One Which Drives You To Get Out Of Bed Every Morning?
There is just something about ‘MeraWaalaAirport’ (as I like to call her) that makes it all worthwhile. Pre-COVID-19, there were people in aircraft headed to limitless corners of the world, and it was fascinating to see how easy it was – to leave, to return, to roam far, to stay close. All this was just a flight away. That definitely was a driving force for me to get out of bed every morning – knowing that there were so many possibilities within reach, at the click of a button.
In the current scenario, that feeling has just deepened. On the face of it, BLR Airport wore a deserted look. However, in the background there were cargo flights transporting essential medical supplies and repatriation flights taking people back to their home countries and bringing Indians back. We always have been an ‘essential service’ that makes a difference to people’s lives – not just a building that enables travel.
What’s Your Take Of The Current Situation (Corona Times)? How Is It Affecting You?
Like most people, I’ve been working from home for the past couple of months and I have to say that I have quite enjoyed it! Working from home requires a certain degree of discipline – it could get overwhelming to have to manage schedules and routines – and ensure that one is not ‘on’ all the time. At this point in time I am trying to strike a balance and find the line that divides work life and my personal life to maintain an optimum work-life-balance.
Has The Lockdown Brought Down The Morale Of Your Team Members? If Yes, How Are You Dealing With It?
Not really. We meet 5 days a week on video call, to discuss plans, review progress and also have a few lighter moments in between. This helps us keep abreast with what’s happening with everyone in the team and to stay connected. The team has been extremely busy ensuring accurate and adequate communication to varied audiences.
We work with external agencies to handle creative and other aspects of our work. Since times have changed, we have more on our plates and the agencies have come together to support us round the clock. We have a lot more to prepare for and be ready with, before physically getting back to work.
After Going Back To The Organization, What Is The One Thing You Would Like To Implement?
I would like for the organization to implement work from home at least twice a week. The travel time saved can be used to do other essential things that we didn’t get sufficient time to do before. As long as we keep a proper track of time and focus on getting work done during working hours, it’s a great concept to work from the comfortable space of our homes, giving us an opportunity to space out our routine a little differently and to indulge in a different environment of work.
What Has Been Your Organization’s Biggest Challenge So Far And How Did You Overcome It?
Effective communication has been one of our biggest challenges. Initially what was missing for us was the ability to dive into rich conversations that could perhaps lead to better outcomes and better work efficiency. However, over time, we’ve worked around having a strong synchronous connection between teammates to resolve this.
The other challenge, I would say, is that of the very nature of aviation business which is not ecologically friendly. It is an industry that contributes to a considerable carbon footprint on a day to day basis. In our effort to contain and reduce this in a more consistent and sustainable manner, the organization has initiated the use of solar energy, implemented rainwater harvesting and launched a campaign called ‘Plastic Beku’ to collect used plastic waste from the City and deploy it in building road infrastructure inside the Airport campus.
Favourite Memory Of a Gift.
Any gift related to food (spoken like a true foodie)!
Best Gift Given To Someone.
Choosing a gift for someone has always been a very unique experience, for it differs from person to person. We once curated a food platter for one of our senior executives using a combination of organic material, as well as food – including cheese, coffee and honey – sourced from various parts of Karnataka. We also ensured that there was absolutely no single-use plastic in the box – all material was natural. That, for me, was ideal. Something that had a personal touch, was made up of natural material, promoted local artisans and made for a very meaningful gift.
Gifting In The Organization.
This year’s employee calendar comprised pictures at the Airport, taken by employees. The calendar was printed using paper made from cotton rags instead of trees – we ended up saving 12 trees! The packaging of the calendar was made with seed paper that could be planted to grow a beautiful basil plant! I love this kind of gifting, where every piece of it has some value, including the packaging. We find innovative, ecologically friendly ways to make them a reality. I find that it requires a little more effort to put together, however, the joy it brings the recipient is tremendous! We usually prefer gifts handcrafted by local artisans, as it not just adds more meaning and value, but also that you can be sure you are creating a source of livelihood.
Tips To Bring In More Joy At The Workplace For Yourself And Others Around You.
Joy at work is overrated and difficult to bring in equally across the organization. You are here to work. You can’t always expect joy. While that sounds rather frosty and unfriendly, I believe that one must be clear about what the ‘soft’ aspects of work can do for you.
I believe that people like to be acknowledged, that their presence be recognized. It’s the main reason why a lot of us suffered from being Locked Down. I do this by saying hello or good morning to people I pass at the Terminal, in the office or just while stepping out for a cup of coffee – even if I don’t know them. About 15,000 people work at the Airport campus, round the clock in different sectors and shifts. This number presents us the golden opportunity of bringing people together, helping them connect with one another, feeling acknowledged, being recognized and overall making the environment a lot more conducive to work efficiently. It also allows us to mingle with people of all age groups, and therefore helps in getting a wider perspective on things.
Something You Would Like To Implement In The Organization Which Is Not Currently Happening
More visits to the Terminal for sure! She is just 500 metres walk from our desks.
There’s no getting away from the fact that no matter where we might work from, the Terminal is our ‘product’ and we must know her very well. That is the place where all the action takes place – we get to meet our customers, feel the pulse, check into the buzz on the floor, get a real feel for how things are being managed on ground. All this helps us sync back to our plans and see if those are getting implemented in the way we meant for them to be and assess the impact those actions have on our teams and customers.
Favourite Memory From Work.
To witness the most beautiful sunsets as I drive back home from the Airport each day. Clear skies with a splash of reds, purples and greys make it a canvas! The onset of the monsoons make the experience even more beautiful.
Disclaimer – All views in the interview above are personal.