Sanjay Singh, Chennai

My name is Sanjay Singh. I am from Azamgarh District of Uttar Pradesh. Since my childhood, I had dreamt of joining either Indian Army or Police services to serve my country. However, my parents didn’t want me to pursue such a career, due to the risks involved in these professions especially in a state like UP. So, I ran away from my hometown in 1998 & came to one of my relatives’ place in Delhi in search of better prospects.

Initially, for almost 7-8 months I didn’t have any clue about what to do. I tried my hands on some petty jobs but I didn’t like them. Then I met someone who suggested that I work as a freelancer with Hindustan Lever in their Market Research division, till I get something permanent to my liking. He introduced me there & that’s how my journey in Market Research began. Coming from a small village, I was shy & reluctant to talk to women but my work required me to talk to housewives for survey & I had to somehow prepare myself. This was a challenge for me because till then the only women I had spoken to in my life were either my immediate family or close relatives.

I worked for 3 years at Hindustan Lever and got married around the same time. I realized that I couldn’t do such freelancing jobs anymore because I wasn’t paid well & didn’t receive regular payments. I needed to find a job where work was done in a systematic way so I thought that I would try something permanent. At first, I didn’t find anything satisfactory and then went out to other market research – related companies. I gave numerous interviews and eventually got selected in one of the reputed companies.

I decided to share this news with my mentor (who introduced me in Hindustan Lever) & now was working with Market Xcel. I called on his desk number but instead his senior picked up the phone, who happened to be one of the founders of Market Xcel! I without realizing shared the news, to which the person congratulated me and asked me to come and meet him in person. Till this moment I didn’t realize that I wasn’t talking to my mentor but someone else, which I got to know later when I came to meet him at Market Xcel office & to my surprise, my mentor told me that he hadn’t spoken to him since he wasn’t in the office. I was confused but that very moment his senior disclosed that it was him that I spoke to & since I was so excited to share the news, I didn’t even realize who I was talking to on phone. I was embarrassed but the man said: “It’s ok; the purpose to call you here is to offer you employment in Market Xcel as a supervisor but on a freelance basis”.

Though I was looking for a permanent job, somehow I don’t know what conspired me to say yes & I joined the very same day. It was all going good & one fine day I got a call from home saying that I’m going to be a father soon. I shared this news in my office & the person who hired me happily put another feather in my cap by saying it’s been 7-8 months that I had been doing a freelancing job and it is time for me to be permanent & took me on company rolls immediately. This was December 2002. At last, I started getting fixed monthly remuneration.

In 2007, I was given a project in Kolkata. I went & completed the project successfully. Upon completion, I called my senior to inform the same. He congratulated me since it was my first project outside Delhi & informed that we might get more projects in Kolkata. Thus, Market Xcel wanted to open an office there & I was asked to be there for a few days to search for a small office. I found a suitable office place and helped set it up for the company. It was December 2007 when we opened the branch in Kolkata.

I finished my work and went back to Delhi in January 2008. I worked for a few more months and then due to some misunderstanding left the job in 2008. I started working somewhere else but I didn’t like my work there. I had become too used to the atmosphere at Market Xcel & started missing it. So, after 3 months I left the new company & joined another company where I worked for 7-8 months but didn’t like that either. So, I finally decided to come back to Market Xcel. The immediate company where I worked before coming back to Market Xcel was in Kolkata & I had opened an office for them too. On that basis, I was given an opportunity to head the Kolkata branch, I was overwhelmed with the gesture by Market Xcel. Maybe this was all because of my work done here earlier, cordial relations & the trust that I had built in past. Since then there has been no looking back, I eventually went on to become Regional Manager for East Zone & now I have been given the responsibility to head South India region for the organization despite not knowing the language. But I’m sure the faith shown in my abilities will help me sail through & build this as one of the top regions in the country and make my mentors proud.

My journey from a Freelancer to a Regional Head had many struggles. I have come across many people in my professional journey who couldn’t stand my success but my mentors always stood by me & supported my growth. At the same time, there are people who have always been supportive, from the very beginning of my career whom I can’t thank enough.

My lifestyle in Kolkata was completely different from that in Delhi, and same is the case in South India. At first, I didn’t understand the language and also the work style was very different. People were a little slow when compared to Delhi but I somehow always managed to get them on my side & adopt them as per our organization’s work culture. I slowly learned a bit of language in the East & doing the same now in the South.

Sometimes, I felt bad when I got scolded for work not going as per the expectation, but then I realized it’s for my own good. If I did not make the same mistake again then I would not get a scolding and also my work will improve. Thus every scolding I get is actually a lesson. Sometimes, we don’t want to do a particular project because we would get scolded but then we need to think that only such challenges bring the best out of us.

The best thing about this company is that we don’t feel like an employee. We get lots of love and support from our co-workers and we don’t feel like quitting this job for any other. When I did quit once long back, I was looking for all these qualities in those other jobs too- this family atmosphere, the nature of my seniors, but didn’t find it anywhere. One more good thing about this place is that we all have our lunch together, be it company’s promoters or the junior level supervisor, we would all sit together for lunch and share our tiffin. You will find this in very few places. People wait for everyone to join before starting the lunch which tells that everyone cares!

Sanjay Singh, Proud Family Member

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