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January 22, 2016

Of Freedom, Fulfillment, And Finding Your Way

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:01 PM

A typical day at Infosys [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3uwO2dsr8Y]

Growing up in an age of intense competition is never easy and then add to that growing up in a developing economy in the third world and competition assumes an entirely new meaning.

There is a whole structuring and shaping that defines who you are, how you think and how you are supposed to think and respond. This discipline is essential. It is what guarantees you success. Despite the wisdom distilled and handed down to me, my appreciation for it continued to wane.

Imagine, I thought, studying hard, working even harder just to hang on to a frame that everyone defined as the success mantra for the generation. If you are free-spirited like I am, you will be forgiven for experiencing an attack of 'elutheromania' which Google defines as an intense and irresistible desire for freedom.

For the first decade of my career, I moved from one job to another experiencing a growing restlessness, feeling quite unfulfilled while continuing to notch up an impressive count of working years. I could not quell the feeling that there had to be 'more to life.' If you are reading this and saying, 'soul mate' then read on...

Apparently there is a lot of research that supports the idea that money is rarely enough to keep the millennial (Gen Y) employee on board in organizations and engaged. Members of Generation Y, it is said, are driven, tech-savvy, ambitious, and well-aware of the social context of their life and their work. Sure, they want money and 'stuff,' but they also value the communal and social aspects of their lives. I came into the workforce a couple of decades before this generation did, but I swear I know the feeling. At that time they called us 'free-spirited' and scowled darkly and muttered under their breaths about what the world was coming to when we chanced to make eye-contact. Now we have an entire generation of 'free-spirited' people and the world celebrates them as the doughty 'millennials.'

Coming to Infosys 16 years ago was like a breath of fresh air. Here was a workplace that finally celebrated that you could 'Be More!' I joined to set up the Learning & Development group, providing a focused effort to behavioral and managerial development in the organization. One of my first experiments was 'learning through play' and I created Pravesh, our milestone program for first-time managers. Developed in an experiential learning format using the outbound to drive leadership lessons, the program was a heady experience for both the learner and the facilitator. I could already see an appreciation of new learning formats hinting at the changing demographics at the workplace. Over the decade that followed, we created newer learning formats gaining the appreciation of the learner and the rest as they say is history!

Many years later as I reflect back on my journey here, I cannot help but wonder at the various roles and opportunities that came my way, each new and unique, and each new opportunity more defining than the previous one. There is a saying, 'if you want to move, you've got to get up first.' And every time I got up, I moved!

Another aspect of this 'free-spirit' that I alluded to, apart from choosing my areas of work and defining the success I wanted to accomplish, was this immense freedom to work in spaces that appeared at the time unrelated to your work at all. In 2006, I remember getting up and expressing my dismay at the state of road infrastructure in a particular stretch of Bangalore that caused huge stress to commuters and suddenly, I was leading the project. I, without a clue about building roads, interacting with the government, and setting up infrastructure, surprised myself by getting the project completed in 15 months. This was the National Highways' first elevated road project in the country delivered on time with zero accidents.

Of course, Infosys is full of enthusiastic people like me who have accomplished some amazing stuff and will warm your heart with their accounts of these acts of care and kindness. Read more through our sustainability reports on www.infosys.com and welcome to the enchanted world of dreamers and free spirits, seeking and achieving professional and personal success with equal aplomb.


I am happy for all who gets right opportunity..but I wish I would be be one of them..transformation should happen across the company...then only it adds value to the organization.

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