In 2015, after a brief stint at a sports marketing company, I was looking for something different. This was about the same time that startups were making waves in the country. A friend who I had worked with a little while ago happened to call to check if I’d like to come to work in a company that was in the healthcare space. Went out to meet them and turns out that they were trying to bridge the gap between a doctor and consumer. Like every startup I had seen, they seemed to be in a hurry and needed good people to join immediately and start executing. I spent very little time making a decision and jumped in.
At my first day of work I discovered that we had 3 events lined up. All 3 of them were to start in the next couple of days. No time to sit around and figure out more. My reporting manager was super busy and gave me a quick brief and a phone number and got me started. Looking back on that day now, it seems like he had more faith in me than I had in myself. I don’t remember him even asking me what was happening. He was super busy handling other fires and this wasn’t a priority for those couple of hours. The next 3 days were interesting since we announced our funding, participated in an event and branded an internal event for all our employees. I had done more in 3 days than I had in the past couple of months. At my last organisation we would get some time between the close of a sale and execution. My design team would need a week’s heads up even to start on a design. Here, the design was getting made while the vendor was busy ordering for material. I had been on my feet for 3 days in a row with barely any sleep. It was lots of fun and I loved every moment of it.
My first year at Practo was filled with excitement. Events and conferences week on week and sometimes a couple of them at the same time. Everything we did was brand new. We hosted an internal hackathon in a partially completed building with branding hanging from the roof and drones shooting videos. Our first really huge event was the internal event called Practo Scene. I still remember getting the guys from the travel desk to coordinate bookings across 35 cites in India and finding ways to get people from international locations to come down to Bangalore. Between the admin team, Varun and I, we managed to host 1,800 people across 3 cities. That was a fun night. By the time we got done and went back home it was 12 noon the next day.
Sometime during my first year we decided to start branding clinics. I was asked if I could take charge of that. Since it wasn’t events season I quickly agreed. Just learning to figure out how to create branding and scaling it across the country was amazing. Each city had its new set of challenges. Sitting inside the truck waiting for the doctor became a norm. We found efficient ways to communicate with doctors to put up branding when they weren’t present. I learnt how to use a drill gun. This was at one of the clinics when the boys had taken a break and I wanted the job done quickly, so I took out the drill gun and made a bunch of holes. What I did not realise is by doing that the plaster would fall out. The doctor was pissed, but thanks to someone who knew how to fix it and then added a nice coat of paint, he seemed satisfied. Those lessons came in handy when I moved houses. During an event in Kolkata I was told about the floods in Chennai and what we needed to do. Figuring out medication, packaging and transportation to a place that was hit by a natural disaster was interesting. Another learning lesson was branding the entire office in 24 hours. The process of discovering what we wanted took a little while, but afterwards the execution was super simple. That taught us how to brand 2 other large offices quickly. There are tons more such incidents that I recollect about my stint at Practo. Every single thing I did, including the mundane paperwork of getting bills approved has helped me grow. Getting the finance team to process invoices quickly is always a relationship game.
I have worked with some amazing people in the last 3 years. My line manager is the hardest to please. To him, quality of work is paramount. Thanks to him I learnt quickly. I figured out how to play at that level even though it was super hard. The hardest was to work with him when we did our rebranding. He was so particular when it came to colour, it was shocking. He could somehow see that there was a shade difference between 2 blues, which to me looked absolutely the same. The head of sales, who was then the head of marketing, was amazing. He’s super nice and extremely easy to work with. He sat with us till midnight figuring out how we could do clinic branding. I have never had a situation where I went to him and had not gotten a solution. When I told him I was planning to leave, he sat me down and gave me some super solid advice which I quickly wrote down after the conversation. Another thing that left an impact on my life was when he called me in the evening after a hard day at work when we had to let go of a few people. He called me to tell me it was done and tomorrow would be business as usual. He did not have to call but he did. He didn’t call only me, but everyone else in Marketing and Operations too. Each day I learnt something new, sometimes super small things like shortcuts on excel, and sometimes large stuff like forecasting. It’s harder to leave because of the relationships I share. Just knowing that people trust me to get the job done is big. It was brilliant to know that the door is always open if I want to come back.
In the last 3 years I have been here, a number of wonderful things have happened to me. I got married, adopted 3 dogs, traveled across the country doing training rides on the bike, traveled to Russia and rode my bicycle across the US. Where else would I have gotten the flexibility to do this.
I am truly grateful for the opportunities that I have had at Practo. Reflecting back, I can’t help but smile. It feels good. I feel strangely satisfied, but equally sad that its over.
Onward to the next assignment.