27 Mar My Onsite travel experiences
Onsite!! The word itself thrills you, doesn’t it? You suddenly feel you are a star, the chosen one. I too felt the same way. I travelled in the month of June to South Africa. Since this was my second trip, I knew fairly how it was going to be. My family too was happy about it. Finally the day arrived when I had to leave.
Like almost all Indian families my entire family came to drop me to the airport, accompanying them were some of my friends. Then the time came to get into the airport all alone; a sulking feeling dawned into me and I started telling myself that I have to be all by myself for the next 3 months. Somehow, I kicked that thought out of my head and looked at the new challenge that awaited me. I had a flight connecting via Abu Dhabi. When I reached Abu Dhabi, I felt that the airport in itself was a city. I am extremely famous with getting lost in new places because I usually take wrong turns. I had to be very careful so that I reach my gate correctly. I checked my boarding pass, at least 20 times, to make sure I was heading towards the right gate.
The evening I arrived and checked into my apartment, I found that my colleagues had already prepared supper for me, which was a much appreciated gesture. By the time I had reached the apartment I was tired and jetlagged. After a good night’s sleep, I woke up the following morning and visited my client’s office. People had varied expressions when I reached office. Some were surprised to see me, some were happy and some others did not really care because they didn’t know me. The first day went in getting a laptop, getting accesses etc. so it was a relaxed day and I was happy about it. However my happiness didn’t last too long; the following day I had a whole list of tasks that had to be completed. Since we were at the end of the project the clients were very curious to know what was happening. Working at client side is a little different than what we do at offshore and I realized this over the course of my stay. Clients will often come and ask you the work progress, there would be adhoc requirements which you may not be able to avoid, you will be pulled into meetings/discussions which probably you would not attend if you were offshore, but this is a part and parcel of being there. Clients somehow feel that you know everything about the project and they will come to you with questions from different streams. Well the clients are correct on their part because you are the face of the entire offshore team at their side. So one must at least have a high level view of the entire project, not that you must know everything but you must be able to redirect them to the right person. This way there would be less confusion. In any situation if you are not confident about any question, it is ok to tell them that you will find out and get back rather than providing incorrect information. Incorrect information can cause more damage than an unanswered question.
I came to know of a very funny thing that some people at client side do. They ask you a question, listen to your answer very carefully and then go away. Then they ask the same question to two three people from your organization and try to find if there are contradictory answers. I wonder why they do it but if they find contradictory answers they will come back to you and ask you about it. Hence it is also very important to be have updated info of the stream that you are working on. I somehow found this very funny. One of the biggest mistakes which I made while I was onsite was that I did not reach out for help to the offshore team, since I thought when you are onsite you have to do everything but I was wrong. When one works offshore one seeks help from colleagues the moment one feels that one is stuck with something because we see that there are some more people who know the technology that we work on. However, when we get stuck while we are onsite we feel that there is no one to help since we cannot see anyone and then we struggle to solve problems on our own. But that’s not how it is. Even if you are onsite and need help with something, connect with your colleagues through Skype or talk to your project manager and seek help from the right person. This is a big lesson I learnt. Always try to be calm, even though it may not be possible every time.
Keeping work aside, let’s talk food…a bigger concern. We are so used to eating spicy and rich food that we cannot eat the food there, so it is always better to learn a few easy-to-cook recipes in order to stay alive. I salute all those people who can adjust to any cuisine without grumbling, as I am not one of those. Probably because I am too used to eating yummy homemade food. Last but not least, in a foreign country your security is your own responsibility. It is better to be safe than sorry. Overall, my onsite trip has given me more exposure and made me more confident in dealing with clients. It has been a great learning experience.