In our WB GET TO KNOW series, we will introduce you to our colleagues in the coming weeks. We want you to get to know the people behind the names that are often work in the background for projects.
Col. Rajesh Pandey is Head of Administration and Resident Director of Dr. Wamser + Batra India Private Limited, responsible for administrative and internal HR activities. He is the head of the Indian headquarters in New Delhi and at the same time takes care of two other offices in Bangalore and Pune.
His experience in the Indian Army has proved valueable in establishing new processes and building a cohesive & responsible team.
We do our interview from the home office. In India, the offices had to close due to another lockdown. Our colleagues had to return to their own home office for an indefinite period of time.
How are you doing in the home office? Have you gotten used to the circumstances by now?
Yes, we are used to working virtually now and have a very robust system to support our employees working from home. However, I'm lucky that I have enough space in my apartment and my own room that I can use during working hours. It is even possible for my son, who is a management consultant and working in Bangalore, to spend the lockdown period with us. His home office is next door and we had lunch together today - a positive aspect of the situation!
Since December 2017, Col. Rajesh Pandey has been working for WB in New Delhi after finishing his career in the Indian military. As an officer in the Indian Army, he was involved in two military operations against Pakistan. In addition, he was responsible for administrative duties.
If we compare Army to our current corporates, it has two major divisions; operations (includes training) and administration & logistics (includes HR), thus, you have to deal with a lot administrative & logistics work and take care of your troops. Among other things, I was responsible for the logistics of 3,000 + soldiers. These logistics included everything from procurement to distribution, for example, I was respondible for supply of service clothing, ammunition etc. i.e., procuring and coordinating the delivery of these from factories to the military stations.
Additionally, I was also responsible for training and development of the troops and also had to be on a lookout if they faced any other challenges in their professional or personal lives.
Why did you end your successful career in the military and how did you come to WB afterwards?
During my military career, I was stationed at many different locations in India. Each new location meant a move - not only for me, but also for my family and especially my son. There was one change of school after another, friendships could not last long. This meant a lack of stability for him, and as he got older, we decided to settle down.
After completing his military career, Col. Rajesh Pandey and his family moved to New Delhi. To the city where he was born and brought up.
He joined WB more than four years ago and took over responsibility for day-to-day administrative activities, infrastructure (e.g. IT) and also personnel.
In the beginning, I was mainly responsible for implementing new processes. When I started in 2017, there was no one who cared about working hours. The company lacked team cohesion. For example, I had to create a structure where every employee felt part of the team. This included a change in work ethic, showing up on time, or even dealing with vacation requests. My "army mindset" was certainly helpful in designing and implementing internal structures and processes in the company.
Over time, you have taken on more responsibility. You have become head of internal HR and internal finance, and now even resident director.
In addition to more responsibilities in day-to-day business, the main focus is still the employees of WB India. This includes not only hiring and (unfortunately) also seperation of some office staff, but above all caring for the well-being of employees.
The way we deal with each other is very transparent and honest, and we work in close cooperation with our offices and Management in Germany. I particularly appreciate that my work is appreciated and I am given autonomy to run Indian operation, as is often not the case with Indian management. People believe in me and what I say has a high value. That is not something that can be taken for granted.
And if you had to describe the team in three words?
Sincere, professional, and honest. These are also the qualities we look for in the candidates during our hiring process. Additionally, it is a key focus for us to make the environment of our company cheerful and cohisive.
Even though WB has transitioned well to the virtual mode of working, is working from office still considered as a viable option?
Yes, I think we need to go back to the offices in the long run. We believe that being in a close proximity with your colleagues is beneficial for both the company and for individual development. For example, when a problem needs to be solved, you can just get up, walk around the office and reach out to the concerned person, however, while working virtually there are a lot of coordiantion issues with video calls that have to be scheduled, then someone is unavailable and the ability to connect with employees face-to-face is missing. I think going into the office makes everyone feel better and is much more efficient in terms of coordination and output.
Aren't there any advantages to working from home?
There is one big advantage: As a passionate golfer, I have the opportunity to play a round of golf before work. Getting up early, spending time in the fresh air and then sitting at the notebook at 9 a.m. is a nice start to the day. So working from home definitely gives you the freedom which you usually don’t have when you have to travel everyday to the office. But then again there are pros and cons to both the models of working.
Speaking of freedoms - if we can get our freedoms of travel back and also travel to India again or for the first time, what place should you definitely visit in India?
India being a diverse country has multiple places to explore for example if you want to visit places that have religious roots, then you can visit Rishikesh or the Ganges, which are beautifully located or Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah in New Delhi specially on a Thursday because of its evening qawwali session.
But the best place I would personally recommend is Jaisalmer in Rajsthan. I take every opportunity to go there. Even as an officer in the army I was there many times, but the place still amazes me after so many years and so many visits. Jaisalmer is a desert city where people are very warm and hospitable. And the landscape is beautiful - there is probably nothing like it in Germany or Europe.
Thank you very much for the interview!