ASSISTENTE-DIREZIONE.IT: Hi Rajni, could you tell us something about yourself?
RAJNI KUMARI: As a person I am very balanced and love my family and friends. I enjoy working and I adjust to new surroundings and environments very quickly. I am also very approachable and always ready to take on new challenges.
AD: What brought you to Italy?
RK: Well, it was a personal move, as my husband worked here, so moving to Italy was natural after marriage.
AD: For which company do you currently work and what’s your job like?
RK: Presently I am associated with Feedback Italia (telecom/IT sector), which is into unified communications.
AD: How did you become a Personal Assistant and what is your previous professional experience?
RK: During my Graduate studies, I also studied Secretarial Practice with YWCA, so after completing the course I was tempted to work as a secretary. Before moving to Italy I worked as full time assistant to senior management for 8 years in different companies. During this period I worked with different people of different nationalities and from different parts of the world. I started my career as a secretary with Novartis India (pharmaceuticals) assisting the Zonal Heads. After working there for more than two years I joined IMCC (Delhi Metro Rail Project MC1B) which was a joint venture between five international construction companies for the underground metro tunnel in Delhi. There I assisted the Project Director and other senior executives. It was a multicultural work environment for me. After working there for five years and since the project was over, I joined Brightpoint India (Telecom) a subsidiary of Brightpoint Inc., as Executive Assistant to the CEO and worked there for around two years. As my personal life was taking a new turn, I decided to take a break and concentrate on my family. As soon as I was more settled in my family life, I started looking for work opportunities again here in Italy and I was fortunate enough to get a chance for a fresh start with Feedback.
AD: What software do you use most for your job and which one is more effective in your opinion?
RK: In my current role, I use MS Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MS Outlook). For our internal purposes we use Contact Manager, our in-house software which is very effective for my current role in Marketing & Communication. I also use video conferencing software which is developed by Feedback.
AD: What kind of deadlines do you have to meet in your current position and how do you prioritise your work? Do you use a specific system?
RK: My current role is not directly that of a personal assistant since I am providing support to our startup business in India. The deadlines are quite different, and are more for providing support in terms of collecting & distributing information, chasing people from other departments to complete their deadlines, briefing both sides on developments. I use our in house software to manage the vast flow of information.
AD: Are there any business topics you have to treat in more detail? If so, how do you keep you abreast of them?
RK: Yes, I need to be updated on a regular basis on topics related to the unified communication market and more so to the video conferencing market in India. For this I go to various websites and blogs dedicated to them.
AD: Last question … Do you have any tips to share with our Community regarding business etiquette in India ?
RK: As an Indian assistant to expatriates, I have come across some very interesting facts about business etiquette in India:
- You need to be sensitive to the context at all times, as we Indians are very sensitive people.
- Orientation of time – In India everything takes time. Flexibility is paramount. Family responsibilities take precedence over business so last minute cancellations are possible when doing business.
- We Indians are very curious and like to exchange views even with total strangers.
- Learn to recognize when “NO” is meant as we Indians don’t say NO directly, unless the issue is crucial. Indian society has an aversion to saying “no” as it is considered rude due to the possibility that it might cause disappointment or offense.
- Indian businesses are hierarchical. Titles such as Mr, Mrs or Sir/Madam are used almost always unless the other person asks you to go on a first name basis.
- Never use your left hand for eating, serving, or taking food or in fact handing over or accepting things.
- Doing business in India involves building relationships. Indians only deal favourably with those they know and trust – even at the expense of lucrative deals.
- If your business dealings in India involve negotiations, always bear in mind that they can be slow. If trust has not yet been established then concentrate efforts on building a rapport. Decisions are always made at the highest level. If the owner or Director of the company is not present, the chances are these are early stage negotiations.
- Indians do not base their business decisions solely on statistics, empirical data and exciting PowerPoint presentations. They use intuition, feeling and faith to guide them.