Vaidhyanathan R, Tata Consultancy Services

When I received an email about Tata ProEngage in June 2015, I went through the list of projects to identify the ones to which I could contribute. I was reminded of the previous year, when I could not find a suitable project to contribute in Chennai location.

To my delight, I found an opportunity in my area of interest – training people in advanced MS-Excel and that too in Chennai for an NGO (Bhumi). Researching about Bhumi, I was very much impressed by the changes they have brought in the community. I did not want to let go of the opportunity.

I initially thought it was all about registering in the Tata Engage website and directly getting into action. On 20th July 2015, I received a congratulatory email that I was selected, thanks to Ms. Manjula Sriram. I attended the induction session by iVolunteer and realized that there was a well thought through process put forth by Tata Sustainability Group. It was indeed a well-designed session which educated about dos and don’ts, what to expect, how to approach the project, plan the deliverables, setting the expectations, commitments and so on. It really helped me to understand the nuances of volunteering and collaborating with an external organization.

I received a welcome email from Ms. Vaishnavi Srinivasan, Executive Director of Bhumi on briefing about Bhumi and inviting for an introductory session at their office. The introduction session was very helpful in understanding the organization and their expectations from the training. I then prepared a draft agenda with sequence of training topics and practical exercises. It was well appreciated by the Bhumi team who provided constructive suggestions to improvise and finalize the plan. We agreed and decided to cover the training in two sessions.

I sent the session-1 training agenda in advance and went to their office to conduct the session. They provided a friendly atmosphere to conduct my session, and the audience was absolutely receptive and interactive. In turn I experienced what Roman philosopher Seneca meant when he said, “While we teach, we learn”.

While I had prepared for the session using an advanced version of the software, the participants were using different versions of it. Due to the version limitations, it was necessitated to follow different steps to perform certain functionalities. In teaching what they need to do in the version of the application they had, I learnt that to achieve the objective of teaching, I should speak their language (pun intended) and not mine. The team got enthused and were pretty much involved as they could follow the steps easily.

When the session ended, based on the interim feedback from the participants we planned on what needs to be covered in the subsequent session. This helped us to align our program with the participant’s needs.

Before session-2, participants completed the exercises given as part of session-1 which helped to synchronize the level of understanding and to smoothly transition to the session-2 on some advanced topics. Team posed practical questions and I felt privileged to clarify their questions. At the end of the session the participants were very much thankful and I felt a sense of gratification emerge in me.

I was elated when I got to know later that the team was able to implement the learnings right away and were able to see the benefits. Special thanks to Ms. Vaishnavi, Dr. Prahalathan, Mr. Ganapathy and Mr. Vivek from Bhumi.

Thank you Tata Sustainability Group for providing the opportunity.