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A decade (or so) at a posh building.

In Everyday on July 9, 2021 at 10:31 pm

Originally written in September 2019.

In Bombay, when people ask you where your office is, the answer can sometimes make the questioner decide certain things. Things like whether they would like to do business with you or not.

It’s how one can build a perception of how large or small your company is.

I’m actually being quite judgemental myself by saying that this is a Bombay thing. This is more of a human thing.

Something like this Princeton Study.

So, whenever I visited the GroupM India office at the Westin building in my early 20’s, there was always an aura of awe. The awe of doing business with a company that can afford to be housed at what then seemed like one of the most premium commercial premises available, at least for an advertising agency.

But actually, it wasn’t like ‘I’ was doing this so-called business with them. I worked at a (then, as in 2011) much smaller boutique agency that was one of the preferred vendors for a certain now overly commoditized creative service. But I loved going there for meetings. Loved it so much that I took the first chance I got at a job interview in that building. In fact, at the time of the interview, I was unemployed and seeking immediate employment after my deal with a rival and equally large organization went south on the joining day. Short story time: Before my joining date, I was asked to come in a few days earlier and pick up a handover from the person I was replacing. Seemed straightforward, but it turned out to be a massive blow to my plans of working closer to home. Strange how the Talent team handled that. I knew that if Day minus 5 was like a bummer (I’m being nice), then the days of life ahead couldn’t be extravagantly different. The End.

Then came along the aforementioned interview. At this point, I was ready to take up smaller (read less pay) offers because of the not-so-respectable behaviour that I witnessed at a large firm. I thought that maybe I wasn’t cut out for the big league. Maybe I was just a young kid with big dreams but without the necessary skill set to own the floor at a large firm. The confidence that I had brewed in my mind because of being exceptional at a smaller firm felt hollow. The clientele was the same as the big league. But when a hiring manager tells a 20-nothing person that they’re still untested on the ‘real field’, it doesn’t help inspire confidence of any kind. It in fact, led to my own use of that terrible thing to say to interviewees the following year.

Being the underdog wasn’t a choice or a rebellious teenage headline. It was an unwanted necessity.

I just realized that I’ve written more about the shitty experience than about the shit that I actually wanted to write about. Can you imagine the so-called childhood trauma?

Course correction and fast forward.

I got the job. Loved everything about it. The people, the role, the company and more important(to this story) the office. When people don’t understand your job (digital media *facepalm*), they try and judge its potential using other external factors. So when someone outside of the biz heard that the office is at the Westin, and occupies 3 whole floors, it definitely left a strong impression of success. I didn’t realize when, but somewhere there was some notoriety with that impression which I started enjoying. So whether it was at a family gathering or a college reunion, no matter how little anyone cared about the business of creativity, they cared about the prestige associated with the address.

That was at 23. Now I’m 30. The charm of the job has definitely waned. The roles have changed. The people have moved on. Hell, we had a merger a year-and-a-half-ago so the name of the company changed as well. At the lowest point of the job (and there always will be), the only thing that made going to work feel special was knowing that the damn building doesn’t flood in the monsoon, doesn’t melt in the summer and didn’t look shitty at any point of the year. Basically doesn’t feel like Bombay.

This was, in my opinion, the single greatest factor of enjoyment in those times: at least the building looks great!

This is probably why I’m writing this great good-bye to the building.
No, I didn’t lose my job. The whole company is shifting! To a place that’s actually halfway closer to home.

So, to new beginnings and remembering the good ol’ Westin days!

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