I remember very well my first trip on a Shatabdi Train. It was from Madras to Bangalore, an early morning train in Oct 2003. I was dressed in a blue tie with floral designs, a maroon shirt and grey trousers as I was heading for one of my first interviews after my first job at RPG Retail, where I had joined as a Management Trainee in June 2001. The urge to move into a larger role always persisted in me and during my younger days, I was more clueless about my career than I am today! Back to the interview – I was heading to meet the big guys at Cafe Coffee Day, at that time considered as one of the upcoming promising retail chains in India, in the business of Coffee Retail. A new concept those days in India, there were hardly any coffee retail chains across the country – CCD in South, Barista in North India and a few local players, particularly Amethyst and Qwikys in Chennai. But for these, the cafe chains weren’t thought what they would be today – ubiquitous! Not that I had any F&B background or experience, except for the few months when I used to scoop Ice-Cream at the first franchised outlet of Baskin-Robbins in Chennai. The interview at Coffee Day went well, one round with the Heads of HR & Operations but for some strange reason I couldn’t take the offer.
I headed back to Chennai and in a few months joined The Future Group and came to Bangalore, with 4 bags of luggage and a heart loaded with wishes to make a great career and a happy living. Its over 7 years now since I have been in Bangalore and the rest, as they say is history. This column comes straight from the Club Mahindra Resort at Kangra Valley where I am camping for a short holiday. Dharmasala, seven km from here is famous for the Tibetan monastery and home of His Holiness Dalai Lama and also has a Cafe Coffee Day since early this year. I was proud to be there, with our boys who are providing great service to the hundreds of visitors and customers who pass by our cafe.
Cafe Coffee Day currently operates over 1,000 cafes across the country apart from outlets at Austria, Pakistan and Czech Republic. Started in 1997 as an internet cafe, the company has grown strong due to the vision of our Honourable Chairman VG Siddhartha and the hard work of the thousands of employees who have been with the company over the years, not to forget the strong consumer sentiment and the growing coffee culture across the country. Even as I celebrate my one year’s existence in this company today, I am extremely proud of what I have been doing over the months – to identify new cafe opportunities among Key Account locations across the country. Would like to thank my former boss and Director, Mr. Alok Gupta for identifying me for the job and for providing me the necessary resources and skills to perform in my present role; a big thanks to my colleagues and peers for supporting me all through; and of course a special mention and thanks to my most valuable team – I am almost nothing without their individual effort towards the success of our collective target. This is a humble “Thank you” for all that’s happened and that’s yet to happen – after all, a lot can happen over coffee!