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In Conversation With Ranjini Manian

Nirmala Garimella
05/13/2005

What does it mean to be a Global Indian? Whether working in India and interacting with foreign companies or working outside of India and communicating with natives in their homeland, the issues are the same – Adjusting to a culture that will connect people and bring businesses together. To Ranjini Manian, Director of Global Adjustments, a Chennai based company, this is the Mantra for professional success in an increasingly global world and she wants to stay ahead of the curve.

To bring this mantra to fruition, Ranjini Manian is on a tour to the US and UK, where Global Adjustments have established contacts. Her visit has two main objectives: One is to attend the TIECON event at San Francisco to study the core issues about Global business and take this information back to India. Armed with this, she hopes she will succeed in the setting up of an Academy in various major cities for cross cultural training for expatriates and Indians. As part of this endeavor, she has brought top etiquette consultants like Sue Fox of Etiquette Survival and  Syndi Seid of Advanced Etiquette to the Advisory Board. The other objective is to promote her upcoming book ‘India - Inside Out' a compilation of anecdotes of global communication documented through the years and soon to be published in India in time for the company's 10th anniversary in December. In the meanwhile she is on the lookout for an American publisher so that  readers oversees would be benefitted with the exchange.

 In a telephone conversation, Ranjini Manian  elaborated on some of these issues and the work  of Global Adjustments.

Since the company started ten years ago, you may have seen many more companies doing this sort of cultural communications. What is unique about GA?
We were the first relocation company in India when we started on March 3rd 1995 with an apartment from my mother and a phone line. My partner who was the wife of a US diplomat came in with a word processor in the pre PC days. Since then India has changed and so have we – we are now on the web and use all the technology possible to empower ourselves and our customers.

We are the only company addressing both sides of the picture and offering training and cross cultural orientation to expats and Indians.

 We are a company where there are more women than men which is quite a special thing for India. We are a 36 member organization nationwide out of which 29 are women.

The website www.globaladjustments.com  says that ‘GA follows the Western model of relocation’. Could you explain that in detail?

We adhere to western styles of communication and processes ensuring quality yet we retain the Indian cultural touch of hospitality and going the extra mile.

Do companies in India send their employees traveling to work abroad to GA for training? Is it hard to convince people that this is important?
A lot of companies now do. We have to work very hard at convincing them when they are new to the market. The more established they get they realize that we are a good value add and do come to us repeatedly for training. Our strength at GA is that we have a core of expatriate consultants which enables us to do cross-cultural training with a native from that country either as a guest speaker or sometimes to run the course.

How do you tap companies outside India to hire GA for their relocation needs?
GA is a member of ERC, Employment relocation Council and many companies come to us as their destination service provider. Word of mouth among diplomats, consulates and the good publicity we receive through the press also works well. We have several US based GA consultants.
 
We have a dynamic website that gets us a lot of overseas inquiries. We get a lot of referrals because we are a listed active member and find ourselves working with relocation companies all over the world.

Could you share with us a human interest story that has been a challenge to GA?
GA has so many human interest stories that we are now writing  a book on this. Here is a typical story which shows how we have to live in awareness and not take our lifestyle or culture for granted - explaining the unwritten codes of India.
 
 A room under the ground

…On our second morning in our new home, we woke up to find the taps dry. India had struck! Jim went out and bought crates of drinking water before the children woke up and poured it into the bath for them.

Just as he was finishing, our maid, Selvi, arrived. What was Jim doing, she asked, her kohl rimmed eyes widening in surprise. Why was the switch not on? What switch, I asked? The pump switch. What pump? For water from the sump. What’s a sump? Oh madam, a big room under the ground. And she led us to a trap door in our garden, which opened to reveal a big underground tank. It held 12000 liters of water.

She flicked a switch, there was a roaring sound and a few minutes later she opened the tap and water actually flowed. Used as I was to direct supply to the taps, I didn’t know the water supply in India ran into an underground sump in each house. It then needed to be pumped up into an overhead tank that fed the taps. I simply had to turn on the motor to pump water into the overhead tank!
 
As a one stop shop for relocations needs and assisting business families to move to and from India, Ranjini Manian feels that India should not be complacent about relying on their technical skills alone, “What we need is the rounding off, to communicate clearly and openly, develop listening skills and time management skills and attention to detail. As a country that has many English speaking people, we already have a head start. A change in behavioral style is what will set us apart in future”

 

To know more click on www.globaladjustments.com



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