I visited the Mahindra Pride School, Pune as a part of our new sourcing strategy. In other words, I was looking at a fresh source of talent pool to feed our ever-growing need for people, who would be loyal and help reduce my turnover cost. I went in to evaluate a possibility but I came out transformed and amazed. I met Pruthvi, who at 19 has the responsibility of running her household. Bright and dazzling with confidence, she told me in marathi laced hindi “Mujhe kuch banna hai”. I met many others like her, who had dropped out of school mostly to support their families financially. What was striking was the way they said ‘HSC fail’ while talking about their academic achievements. With confidence and pride. Most of their peers, in their communities haven’t even seen the interiors of a school. Veenitha told me that she joined the 3 months hospitality course in the school, to build a career in the hotel industry, which will help her to bring up her five year old daughter. Widowed at 25, today she depends on her parents for support but has pawned her only pair of gold ear ring to pay for the conveyance to and fro the school. She said she chose hospitality since it’s a very respectable industry which surprised me since I have met IHM (Institute of Hotel Management) students who refused to pick up ‘jhoota’ plates from restaurant tables saying it’s demeaning. She also told me this is far more respectable than working as a domestic help that she has been before joining this course. The pride that reflected on her face at the opportunity of a better life was unadulterated.
I have worked with NGOs before, but mostly with relocation of refugees and the work had involved counseling and helping them to rebuild their lives. So depravation wasn’t new to me. What was new was so much positivism and hope concentrated within the modest walls of the school.
I have decided to work with them and help the faculty in chalking customized English language skill program that would get them ‘job ready’ quicker, since most of them have excellent communication skills. I must mention that they have excellent faculty members. I met the former Head of Training, WNS, who decided to give up a very successful but high stressed job to work with MPS.
The other amazing experience was the drive down Pune-Mumbai Expressway on a rainy mist covered day. As the bus curled through the Ghat section, the drenched lush slopes hugged the grey clouds that hung like a veil, trying to keep the ethereal nature out of prying eyes. The tunnels added to the mystery of the journey. This has to be the prettiest highway in India at least.