A mentor in need is a mentor indeed!

As I penned down my thoughts on the occasion of International Men’s Day which falls in November, I took the opportunity to reminisce and acknowledge the contribution of men in my personal and professional growth. Let me explain.

I have always expressed my heartfelt thanks to the men in my family and my friends from time-to-time, whenever I had the chance to do so. But this time, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my first mentor and manager, Pravin Karve; who is currently the Executive Vice President of the Boiler ” Heater division at Thermax.

I met Pravin for the first time at a mentorship programme when I joined Thermax as a management trainee in November 2006. I had heard a lot about him from my colleagues. However, when I saw him, I was pleasantly surprised by his personality, which is an epitome of grace and humility. He agreed to be my mentor, and that was the start of my professional grooming for an exciting career ahead. I was this gawky newcomer with absolutely no practical technical knowledge of a boiler, and here I was recruited for handling the international marketing and tendering of boilers. But not once during any technical discussion, did Pravin make me feel that I was immature, incompetent or a misfit for the job. Instead, he taught me the basics of professional conduct like how to organise emails, files and folders in my laptop so that any information could be easily retrieved, as and when required. It was he who also taught me how to respond to emails, not to use bold or capital letters in emails (as it seems like shouting) and to use dispassionate salutations and greetings. He suggested that if a colleague or customer expects my replies on queries pointwise, my response should be just next to each question in a different font colour. I still continue to use these methods, even after 12 years. He deeply ingrained in me the importance of developing an expertise in tools like MS Excel and MS PowerPoint, to be always curious about all the latest trends and advancements in technology and to make use of the same in day to day tasks. “Technology and efficiency go hand in hand,” he had said.

I confidently faced any professional challenge that came along my path at Thermax, while on the personal front; Pravin introduced me to ‘The Art of Living’ foundation that resulted in calming down the personal storms. I was made to understand that every person deals with their struggles that others would not be aware of, which is why it is important to be nice to all. At the same time, he also advised me not to be a pushover, not to apologise unnecessarily and never allow people to walk over me. He advised me to have the wisdom to identify people, analyse situations and avoid emotional reactions or responses to anything. I learnt the importance of turning up to work every morning with a fresh mind, fresh face, professional and clean attire, greet people warmly, and to travel light with no past baggage.

I thank Pravin for making me confident, ensuring that I pay attention to details, and practice high ethics at work.

Back in the year 2008, I recollect how during a meeting, a dear colleague complained of what he perceived as being bullied at the workplace and how given his frustration, he wanted to resign. After giving him a patient listening ear, Pravin laughed it off and shared how every person’s professional
ship will hit an iceberg once in a while. He expressed how he has undergone such hardships himself, and the only thing one could do is to grin, bear, breathe, concentrate better, work harder, and the phase would pass on its own, life is too long for such experiences to last forever!

The most important lesson of life that I have learnt from Pravin is how important it is to make other people feel good about themselves. By doing so, we automatically empower them and give them confidence. This helps them gather enough strength to fight and survive alone under any circumstance.

Because of my association with Pravin early in my career, I have developed a passion for teaching and training newcomers. I derive great pleasure when I instil confidence in the new joinees by making them feel good about themselves, guide them about the right channels and motivate them to attain greater heights in life and. This is my karma now.

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