Ever wondered how businesses manage your queries and improve themselves to become the ideal product for you? Who are the hardworking elves that act as a bridge between you and the organization, sharing your insights with teams and playing a crucial hand in solving your problems?
Well, it’s none other than the Operations team!
Operations over the years has become the backbone of businesses as they work behind the scenes to solve all customer queries and collaborate with different teams to share critical customer requirements and insights to help develop the perfect product/service.
In this session of “In conversation with” we have Liju Varghese, Senior Manager, Client Delivery at Naukri.com, sharing his experience working in this field and with Naukri, watching it grow into a brand itself!
Could you please tell us a little about what you do and your journey so far?
I joined Naukri.com in February 2001. There was no Operations team in place at that time. I had joined the marketing team and Hitesh Oberoi (MD & CEO Management) wanted to set up an Operations team internally.
Instead, we reshuffled the existing teams. So, I was moved from the Marketing team and a few more were regrouped from other teams, and the Naukri Operations team was formed.
I have been here right from the time when we didn't have online posting. In those days, any job posting to be uploaded on the site was posted by the team manually.
The most interesting part of my journey has been the opportunity to be a part of this amazing transformation and the opportunity to work with such a great team right from the beginning!
Currently, I take care of the Campaign Management which includes Inventory Management, Mailer management, Employer Branding, and the offline job posting of Naukri.
Since the time I've been associated with Naukri.com, I have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects.
What got you interested in this field?
I was a bit apprehensive about this role as it was contrary to my personality. But that was way back.
When you're in your 20s, and you get the opportunity to form a department, the excitement is something else. Soon after joining, I was given enough opportunity to grow.
I joined in 2001, and in 2004, I was given the opportunity to handle the team. This automatically got me interested and I appreciated managing a team with zero experience in team handling.
That’s how I moved on from marketing. The best part was I always had something new to work on, and that kept me interested and keen in the field of Operations.
What does your day as a Senior Manager in Operations look like?
For any manager in Operations, every day is opening and every day is closing. So, when you come in the morning, it's a fresh day for you.
You have to be ready to face any and every challenge that your client presents you with as it is impossible to predict anything beforehand.
Unlike Sales or Tech, Operations does not know what's going to come tomorrow. So, that challenge is always there for Operations, making every day unique.
When you're training new team members, how do you prepare them for these new challenges? How do you mentor them?
It comes over a period of time. It’s impossible for a person to know or learn everything on day one of a job. So, we train new employees on the activity they've been hired for, and slowly and gradually teach them all the activities, so that everybody is aware of all processes and can act as a backup for everything.
This is my team’s USP, I have ensured that everybody knows everything. No activity is dependent on anybody and for every task, somebody will be there to cover up and work on it.
If not Operations, what would have been your alternate career choice?
Definitely Marketing as I love talking to people. Some years back I did receive the opportunity to work in Sales, but I knew I wasn’t really cut out for such a cut-throat target-heavy job. Otherwise, I love meeting and talking to new people.
What are the 3 things that you like & dislike about being in Operations?
Like, I would say being in the Operations team, we are constantly working in close contact with customers. So, this gives us a lot of insights into their requirements, which we share with the other teams like the Product, Tech, etc. So, collaboration is one of the things I like about working in Operations.
Second, self-motivation. You need to be extremely self-motivated when working in Operations as there’s hardly any time to seek validation, it’s a very fast-paced field. But this also has a downside as encouragement boosts better productivity.
Apart from this, I think that Operations as a field is rather slow in terms of growth. So, this is not for somebody who wants to grow very fast or expects a lot of professional validation.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Work-life balance in this organization is absolutely fabulous. They ensure that your work-life balance does not get hampered, so once you log out, you can be sure that there will be no disturbance in your personal time.
Are there any mandatory skills one should develop when pursuing this field?
As such, there's no mandatory skill but since we have online and offline activities you need to have good communication and analytical skills.
For example, when you are interacting with clients, you need to be confident, diplomatic and yet remain calm as you are representing Info Edge and Naukri.com, and fumbling or slipping in temperament will paint a negative image of the company.
Then we have our offline team, which is dealing with backend tasks and requires strong analytical skills.
How has Naukri helped in your career growth?
After working in Info Edge with Naukri.com for 22 years, I would say the company gives you the space to grow yourself.
As I mentioned earlier in our conversation, I had no prior experience in handling or managing a team, but the company gave me the opportunity to manage a team 3 years into the system. This, I would say shows the company’s trust in its employees.
Naukri has given me the freedom to develop my own unique ways of handling a team.
How has the field of Operations changed since the time you started?
In the initial days, everything was manually executed. For example, we had an activity called the Job Alerts which was at the time carried out manually. We used to send new job listings to the candidates matching the requirements.
The job alerts had to go to the job seeker in the evening so I couldn't shut down the system. I used to put a paper on my screen that the Job Alerts are uploading please don't switch off the system for anyone working till late in the office.
Back in the days, the Internet was a major issue... Imagine the job alerts are uploading and the internet goes out everything had to be redone all over again.
It used to be an extremely manual exercise, but now, every small thing is getting automated.
The internet is easily available, enabling a lot of tasks to be automated. I think this is a major transformation that the Operations field has witnessed in the last 20+ years.
You have been working at Naukri for a long time. Do you recall your experience interviewing with the company and can you share the same?
I got to know about the opening in Marketing through a friend who was working with Naukri at that time. 22 years back, Hitesh Oberoi was managing the hiring of the Marketing team and it was he who interviewed me and gave me the opportunity to work with such an amazing brand.
Are you involved with the hiring process directly? If yes, what’s the first thing you look for in a candidate apart from educational qualifications?
Yes, for my team I do the hiring myself. There are 3 things that I look for in my candidates- the ability to handle pressure, how well they can gel with the team and if they are self-motivated.
Operations, as I have said before is an extremely high-pressure job where every day is a brand-new day. So, you can’t just get up and leave without closing every concern.
The second, is whether or not they can fit well with the team. Now, I can’t disrupt my existing team which is already in sync just for one person. They must be team player and adapt to the existing team culture.
Finally, as I stated earlier, you have to be self-motivated in Operations.
What is your success mantra to stick around in this field?
It's really the people that motivate me because when you're sitting with 50 odd people of different backgrounds and there are 50 new ideas coming, you are bound to get motivated and excited to work on them.
Of course, not all can be implemented, some will succeed while others will fail but the fact that I get to work and share new insights and ideas is exciting enough to keep me motivated.
What is "In Conversation with"?
Seeking an expert's opinion is not always easy, so we are bringing the expert's opinion to you!
In this series, we aim to explore the career journey of people from different fields, backgrounds, and career stages who have tread the path and made a place for themselves in their specific areas.
Join us as we try to understand all about what they do, how they started, and where they are headed next.
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