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Nisha Parikh of Telebu Communications: Five Things Business Leaders Can Do To Create A Fantastic Work Culture

I am a firm believer in success being a journey, and I don’t believe in success being stationary; it’s dynamic and keeps changing, I suppose. Today you could be successful, and tomorrow can bring you even more success. I think this is a process that keeps going on, on, and on. However, I believe in bringing goodness to the world, irrespective of success, and if I can offer something of value to a person, which would help them grow in their life, for me, that’s what I live for.

As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nisha Parikh.

Nisha is the Vice President for HR and Marketing at Telebu, India’s first UCaaS provider that offers holistic telecommunication solutions across 17 countries. With over 16 years of work experience, Ms. Parikh’s work ethic is all about adding a human element to today’s corporate madness. She believes that real business growth is in trusting relationships and humanizing tech experiences to communicate better.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Marketing was never the career path I chose, but rather was bestowed upon me; you could call it fate or anything else. With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, my plans were always clear; I wanted to get my Post Graduate degree from Swansea University in the United Kingdom and pursue a career in clinical psychology. However, my medical condition and other unfortunate situations didn’t allow me to pursue my dream.

So, one fine day, my friend wanted me to accompany her to an interview at Telebu, so I just chauffeured her to the place, she got rejected, and even I gave the interview and got rejected, which didn’t sit well with me, so I applied again, for a content position and once again, I was rejected. But fate didn’t have it any other way; I got a call later, saying that this company was starting a new website 160by2.com, a free SMS platform, and needed some millennial swag, and there I was, a young 19-year-old grad, ready to begin her journey with this company and rest is just history.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

There are quite a few interesting stories that I have been able to experience working here, but I think the one that particularly stands out to me is the trip to the great north, China. As a young executive, I was quite excited and ecstatic to travel by myself and in the mood of experimentation, I would say, I was quite unprepared, as I wanted the place to surprise me; however, Satya, the company’s founder/CEO, had told me that it was China, and people were not native English speakers; hence he suggested I book myself into a decent hotel; however, the young me chose to stick to my adventurous wild side, and I choose a not so decent hotel.

Moreover, to add to this, my flight was at night, meaning I’d reach China, at midnight, almost at 2'0 clock in the morning. The complete experience in China, from the ride to the hotel and everything else was something that was unexpected for a young soul such as mine, so I decided to fly back a couple of days early. Thanks to this experience, I always ensured that all my trips were very well planned and researched.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Well, we are currently working on several projects that are quite exciting and enticing to people. Telebu as a Unified Communications company is at our growth phase, but we operate like a start-up to keep the spirits and energy high. Our team is filled with young talent that ensures that we are pushing forward. However, apart from rolling out new products, what is interesting today is, someone without any background in marketing, I am leading this young talented bunch of marketers, and with the help of the complete team, we are rebuilding our legacy product SMSCountry.

This task is not easy, which I think is an understatement. Shifting the product from a commodity market to a unique space that we want to carve and create for ourselves would qualify as one of the most exciting projects we are currently working on.

SMSCountry is a beast, owing to the fact that it has been in use for almost 19 years now, with almost millions of customers, and is also the highest revenue-generating product for us, so rehauling and restructuring, not just the website, but the thought process in all the verticals is quite exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Ok, let’s jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

I think that weather, or rather sunlight, plays a major role here in this situation. Countries like the US and Canada tend to have lessened exposure to sunlight and their winters are longer and much harsher. Hence it allows for an atmosphere that is quite gloomy.

Also moreover, I give a lot of the credit for a happier workforce here in India to spiritualism and our culture, that’s something that keeps us happy, and we also have so many people around us. The chaos just takes over us that we quite literally don’t have time to be unhappy in the workspace.

In western countries, they do say the workspace becomes your home and your colleagues a family, but in my opinion, I think they don’t believe that as a concept. But here in India, at least at our company, we are strongly rooted in the concept of our workspace being a home and our colleagues, the family that we choose, eventually, most of us, tend to spend more time with our colleagues than with our biological family, we create bonds that are everlasting and stretch beyond the borders of a company. Additionally, we at Telebu have always been hiring friends, references, people we know, so that’s already one step in the direction of becoming a family.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Absolutely, based on my experience here at Telebu, we have seen that a toxic workspace with no regard for the employees is not going to work, long term or short term. If there is neither productivity, nor compassion for an employee’s health and well-being it directly percolates into profitability negatively.

People need to be invested in themselves and the company, and to rear such an environment; the workspace should provide, accommodate and nourish individuals. A negative environment of any sort could lead to churn & attrition. This not only applies to employees but would also exude into customer management and experience.

Here at Telebu, we have had people who have been working for more than 6 years. They form almost 50% of the workforce, which is a testament to our employee positive culture, built on four pillars: giving, empathy, transparency, and trust, which applies to our employees and customers.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

Essentially, what I think is that it all boils down to one thing, trust. From a manager to the office staff to the CEO, trust is paramount for a positive and enriching work culture. If all of the workforce trusts each other, your manager trusts you that you would finish a task, you trust your colleague will help you out, this creates a holistic work culture that is completely founded upon trust.

A personal anecdote perhaps would help understand better. So at our company during the pre-pandemic era, we never had any device that recorded the coming and going of individuals; we all genuinely believed in our workforce and their ethics. At this point of time, we had a person join the marketing team, who was utterly shocked at the setting and wanted to see if someone was making a note of the movement; he then stepped out for a while and maybe after an hour or so, our team called him as he was needed for a task, even to this day he can’t believe what was told to him, “Hey, can you just quickly come over?” He said, “Hey, I am out” he was expecting a response that would probably be in a tone of anger; however, the response was “Yeah, no worries, please let me know when you’ll be back,” No one asked him why he was out or what he was doing? He came back in 5 minutes, and it’s been 7 years now that he’s been working at our company.

Growth and trust go hand in hand; without one, the other ceases to exist.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture.” What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

The COVID-19 pandemic was a huge disruptor of markets globally during 2020. The short-term consequences were sudden and often severe. Millions of people lost jobs; others rapidly adapted to a hybrid workspace, working from home.

Understandably, I grasped that the work culture could be changed completely; we can do a 180 and still land on our feet. The society also quite literally adapted and adjusted to COVID-19, which for me was an indication that humans and institutions and anything and everything else were capable of change.

One of the most important things required to drive change in the sphere of the US workforce is empathy. I don’t mean to say we lack it or we are apathetic towards our workforce or our employees; however, one noticeable trend is the indifference that most of us display in an office setting, we are consumed by our work, deadlines, and assignments that we hardly have the time to think about anything else. Perhaps pushing ourselves away from the urgent, immediate culture and moving toward a more balanced approach toward work and deadlines, which is infused with empathy, would allow employees to gain trust and work at a more motivated pace.

The pandemic is an objective example of how several companies have grown despite their employees working remotely; this is a stellar example of changing workforce culture, which bought about by a pandemic has fuelled people to adapt quickly and embrace change.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

My leadership or management style doesn’t conventionally fall under any bracket. I want to call my style connected to the team, and at our company, we don’t have a hierarchical order. I strongly believe that being co-owners in a professional space helps yield better results as ownership instills a sense of innate responsibility. A simple analogy for this would be parenting a child together.

Something I hold dear and like with my management style is I am involved and invested, and I always tend to look at things from the other person’s perspective and ensure that I give enough space, as they are an expert in their field, and when there is a block, I ensure to add my value and facilitate the clearance of the block.

I would term our management and working style as independent, and collaborative. I am involved as a manager but not intrusive.

Also, I believe in completely being feet-forward, I provide my two cents to a person, I devise it in such a way that it helps the person move forward and is positive to their growth. I believe in complete autonomy and independence in the workspace; however, I also like to strike a balance by being equally interested in the results/output; that would sometimes mean that I would have to be harsh because when I mean business, I do mean business.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Of course, we have had a lot of help from friends and family and even from my colleagues and our founder. However, the last two years were quite excruciating for many of us, owing to the pandemic. Being also the leader for the HR department, I have seen how people are suffering, leaving us, and even a few of them were hospitalised.

It truly was testing time for me personally and the company. This period kind of pushed me towards spirituality, where I believe I found some solace; however, there isn’t one person I would go to; it is mostly my team, with whom I talk, communicate and share, if it’s a bad day, I let them know of it, and my team was reciprocating and creating a safe space to share and rely on emotionally.

However, my rock and foundation is a furry, four-legged tail-wagger, Fufu, who has been with me throughout these testing times; he’s sensed my emotions and provided me with much-needed relief and comfort; he is the one being I talk to about everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, he may not talk back, but his connection with me helps me find my answers.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am a firm believer in success being a journey, and I don’t believe in success being stationary; it’s dynamic and keeps changing, I suppose. Today you could be successful, and tomorrow can bring you even more success. I think this is a process that keeps going on, on, and on. However, I believe in bringing goodness to the world, irrespective of success, and if I can offer something of value to a person, which would help them grow in their life, for me, that’s what I live for.

In my daily life, I do a lot of extensive reading and share valuable insights with my team, and we also do a lot of learning together; this constant sharing allows my team and me to grow and to become a better human, which is something I genuinely want to do every day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I think one quote that stuck with me is “we are walking each other home” by Ramdas; this quote has helped me stay grounded and to understand that we are all on a journey and that it needs to be enjoyed, rather than competing with others, I believe my competition is me, and I ensure that I do my best because, at the end of the day, we are all walking each other home.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I want to be inspired rather than be an inspiration. All around me, I have strong, vibrant examples of inspirations, from my nephews, who are 6 and 7, to my 89-year-old granny, each of them have, in their sense, inspired me to do something. However, if I had to leave the readers one thing, it would be to keep your inner child alive because that would truly help the world become a much happier place because children are simply selfless and ever-loving.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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