Two months into a new job, most people are unlikely to attempt something new. Not Sakshi Chadha.
Chadha, 34, joined the marketing team of loyalty programme management company Payback in 2016. She could have just stuck to the duties in her job description, but she decided to add a bit of employee bonding to it. The second season of one of the popular obstacle races, Devil’s Circuit, was coming up, and she was not going to let it pass her by.
“I had done the first season while working in my previous office. But we were not prepared mentally or physically. This year, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to come back stronger,” says Chadha. An active person throughout her school and college life, Chadha often mixes her workouts and fitness regimes—choosing between Yoga, Zumba, CrossFit, boxing or Pilates every few months.
When the registration announcement came from Devil’s Circuit, Chadha promptly reached out to the human resource team and told them about her interest. The HR team in turn gave her the responsibility of spearheading it and finding other employees who might be interested.
That could have been a task in a company of 250 employees. But Chadha sent out mailers and got several entries. After forming the teams, and training for a few weeks, they went in to the competition. Amid a lot of cheers from colleagues, Chadha’s team managed the second best time of the day, and secured second place.
“It was a great learning experience. But more than that, it also helped me bond with colleagues from different verticals in the office. My team members were from the legal and sales teams, so in any other situation, I would probably not have met them,” explains Chadha.
The next year, when Chadha sent out requests for applications again, the entries tripled. The team had to organize a physical challenge to select the final participants. Three years down, she is the go-to person for anyone interested in taking part in the challenge.
Maybe the popularity of the challenge in the office has to do with the team winning the second position. But Payback as a company has also always been supportive of employees living an active life, including the CEO Gautam Kaushik who is a marathon runner and trekker.
After Chadha’s win, the HR team made sure the news was shared across offices through mailers. When the team went for the finals at the end of the year (they did not win in that round), more employees turned up to cheer for them than even before.
Each of the employees had to train individually to be fit for the competition. And with team mates coming from various departments, it was often not possible to get free time to train together. “We all knew that work comes first, so we prioritized in such a way that our work did not suffer. But we also managed one team practice before the main event, when we practised under an army coach to complete a circuit of obstacles together,” says Chadha.
The training together also made them aware of what they needed to work on. “Just like in the workplace, we had to play to our strengths. We recognized what each of us were good at and divided the obstacles on that basis,” she adds. This meant giving the person who was most agile obstacles that required more lung capacity, the lightest in the team would get obstacles which involved gymnastic mobility and so on. Chadha believes this was the key differentiator for their team.
The team challenge also meant that each of them had to believe in shared goals. Their professional lives had also helped them learn about goal setting, especially setting smaller goals to finally reach the bigger objective.
“Here too, we followed the same principles. We looked at it one step at a time. Knew that we have to work on our strength, then we strategized, and decided to work in a way that requires the least amount of time. The final goal of finishing the fastest would have otherwise been too big and overwhelming for us,” explains Chadha.
Workplace Champions looks at how employees balance sporting passions and their day jobs.