BLOG – Venkatraman’s unique homecoming experience

Quest is an international transfer program which connects Arcadians from all over the world. Quest is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation. Every week we are highlighting one of the stories our employees who went on an exchange. In this blogpost we cover the Quest story of Venkatraman Radhakrishnan who traveled from Los Angeles (USA) to Mumbai (India).

Why did I apply for a Quest

I moved to the United States from India in 2004, right after I graduated with my bachelors from India (Mumbai). I had a job offer from a leading engine manufacturing company but I chose to pursue my masters at Arizona State. I never got to chance to work in India since then. I have been with Arcadis since 2008 working for the Water Business Line and currently am a Project Manager, Senior Engineer, and Global Excellence Center (GEC) coordinator in Los Angeles Office.

Recently I learned that Arcadis is looking to focus on its India operations and intensify collaborations with the Arcadis offices India. This instantly sparked my interest in our India operations. I was introduced to Ivan Keogh, our Director for Arcadis India by John Batten, Global Director for Water. And I expressed my interest to him, and he immediately supported the idea and suggested I do a Quest to India. With support from him and Mainak Hazra, Head of India Environment; my Quest was planned and approved for first two weeks during May 2017. The plan was to visit Mumbai and Delhi office. Majority of Arcadis India staff reside in Delhi but there are a few folks in Mumbai especially Manish Pandya who leads our Water Business in India. The goals of my Quest were to meet our colleagues in India, work with them, learn about our Water Business in India and figure out how US Water can support India Water  to further grow.

“This Quest experience felt like coming home”

My Quest experience

I landed in Mumbai on May 1st, 2017 for the first part of my Quest. I grew up in Mumbai but never worked there. So, it was surreal when I reached our new office in Vashi, a suburb of Mumbai. Extremely well designed, this new office has one of the best layouts and open plan I have experienced at Arcadis. I was hosted by Manish Pandya in Mumbai. He was extremely nice, helped me settle and introduced me to the Arcadis India team in Mumbai. The Arcadis India team in Mumbai has four of employees and I meet three of them. In the next 3 days, I learned the local work done by staff and also presented to the office the work I do in the United States. Most of the work done by the staff in India is focused on Industrial water for our global clients like Merck, BASF, etc and the project scopes include planning, tendering, water audits etc. I also learned from Manish about a recently completed water minimization study for ITC Ltd, an Indian conglomerate at their Haridwar facility, where in the project team identified improvements at the facility to reduce the use of fresh water at the plant. Municipal water projects which constitute most of US water business line’s revenue is not a focus for India yet. We hope to look for ways where in India can leverage the expertise of the US in this field.

Mumbai office also houses the GEC staff including the staff supporting US Water. I had been working with many of them for past year and it was great to see them. Sandeep Korde, our CAD lead, has been with Arcadis since I started. It was great to meet him and his team. Rose Jose, our Mechanical Design Lead, was in the US earlier this year and had been supporting many of my projects in the western United States. It was great to meet her excellent team too. I was pleasantly surprised to meet junior from college in India, Prakash Nawle, who works for Arcadis now in Rosa’s team. Being there in person, I took the opportunity to kick off a design project with the GEC team, which has proved invaluable.

After spending three days in the Mumbai office, I flew to Delhi on May 7th. The Noida (as a suburb of Delhi) office exclusively houses staff from Arcadis India and is led by Mainak. During my time there, I had individual meetings with the leadership in the office including Mainak and Lalit Pant (Associate Director) and learned from them on how projects in India are won and executed. I learned about the challenges and creative ways in which the team addresses them. I presented my US work in this office too. I was also tasked with assisting on updating a business guidance document on Water Reuse for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). I started the process while I was in India and continued to work on it a bit back in the US. Unfortunately, this work has fallen wayside a bit due to my busy schedule back here. But I am committed to helping the India team as much as I can to grow their business back home.

Learnings and experiences

One of the best and fun things about the office was the lunch hour. No one eats at their own desk and gets together in the office balcony during lunch hour. This is typical to most offices in India and reminded me of my college days. Completely disconnecting from work for an hour and connecting with your colleagues is such a stress buster and great for team building. Arcadis US’ Activity Based Workplace (ABW) will nudge us to do that. Can’t wait for that transition to happen in the LA office.

While in India, I had a chance to spend time with my family and friends, which was awesome. The trip was a whirlwind complete with flight delays and hotel room booking confusion. But, it was a fantastic experience. I owe it all to Ivan and Mainak for making this happen for me. It was unfortunate that I could not meet Ivan due to his busy travel schedule.

Overall my Quest experience was fantastic. I got learn about another OpCo, which happens to be in my home country and meet great people who I have worked remotely. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in our global company. We are truly improving the quality of life everywhere around the world. Our India operations are fantastic with the combination of Arcadis India and GEC staff. Though my Quest focused on the Water and Environment business line, the other business lines have great operations too there. I can’t wait to collaborate more with the Arcadis India staff to help grow their water business and continue to work with the GEC staff. Maybe one day, I can permanently work there. Who knows! ?

The international transfer program Quest, which connects Arcadians from all over the world, is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation.

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