It was my first on-site trip to United States. I was to travel to Champaign in Chicago for our customer, a leader in application performance infrastructure. I was not only very nervous about catering to my customer’s expectations, but was excited too, as it was my first on-site trip! Whenever I ask “experienced” people about what I should expect and how I should prepare myself, everybody gave me a sheer warning of “cultural shock”! I’ll have to say, it’s no big shock; if you have been regularly watching movies and western shows in HBO and Star Movies. Also, globalization has helped us, at least, to visualize the western world. The next thing I learned about was Chicago’s climate. Browsing the internet, I learned the temperature varies from -11 degrees to 8 degrees. The place is known for its heavy winds (“Windy City”, they call it!), that reduce the temperature by 5 degrees when it blows! People warned me about the biting cold and snow, November being Christmas season. The excitement of experiencing snow for the first time coupled with the ignorance of the severe climate, made me turn a deaf ear to all those words of caution. To be frank, my climate worries ebbed away due to my nervousness about the work environment and the responsibility of winning the trust of my clients. ThinkPalm is like a home to me, but I didn’t have a clue about the overseas team – this thought kept me alert, so that I refrain from making an “over friendly show” on-site.
At last the day, November 07 -2015, dawned and I left India for Chicago. At around 5:30 PM, I landed in Chicago. I missed my American Airlines flight to Champaign. I stayed at the Chicago Airport, explored the place while enjoying the snow fall outside, and even walked into the open to “feel” it. Next day morning, after several boarding gate changes, I finally boarded my flight to Champaign. After checking-in to my hotel, I explored the city and spotted the customer office location. I must say, the people of Champaign are easy to communicate and interact with.
All this while, the thought of how to present myself to the techies in the office, was running through my mind. But to my great amusement, the folks at our customer office turned out to be very friendly! The people I had a chance to talk with, were gentle in their responses. Yes! This rule holds true, “respect” – it’s give and take, basically! Be nice and then they will be ten times nicer! Being a ThinkPalmian (Scientific Note: A ThinkPalmian is an upgraded / better version of a Homo Sapien! – Yeah, that’s how we get evolved in here!), this was a real cake walk for me. While tackling some of the managerial “hiccups”, I was constantly helped by Mr.Biju. He mentioned managing such things as an “art” rather than “science”
Technically, since it was a new area for us to work with, we had to do a lot of reading to get to speed, for them to even talk to us regarding the project! After the initial struggle of two weeks, with great help from their team, I was able to understand the functionalities and coordinate tasks with the offshore team. To collaborate with the offshore team, I decided to spend half of my day with the US team and half with the offshore team. Things went well and we were able to build trust in the minds of our customers. Our entire team was happy, not only because there were no shortcomings from us, but also due to the fact that we did contribute in expanding the team. The days spend onsite taught me several new technical areas and opened the doors of constructive thoughts around them.
During my entire onsite tenure, I didn’t have any bad experience, at least, not that I remember! I had the chance to visit local restaurants, enjoy the local transport, cinema and several distinct tourist attractions of Chicago during some extended weekends. When I left US, I had a trillion memories and a wonderful work experience of a life time to cherish!