A Different Life at Work: Ravi Chauhan looks back at his first year at SimpliFlying
“So what do you do?”, she asked. We were sitting in the common room of a hostel in Zagreb, Croatia towards the end of a month long trip across Europe.
“Well I work at an aviation marketing consultancy called SimpliFlying.”
“Oh cool, so you are on a vacation right now?”
“Well we can choose to work from wherever we like, so we are working and traveling across Europe. For a month! In fact we we are headed to Budapest for our company retreat.” I said with an evil grin across my face.
“Man, that is my new dream job” she and her friend said in unison.
I thought as much.
Just over a year ago, I joined SimpliFlying to develop new products that define the future of the industry. A year later we believe that we have made good progress down that road. Yet, before joining SimpliFlying, I had my own fears. I had never worked in a company before, having started a business of my own right out of college. So I expected formality, pre-defined hierarchy and maybe even a bit of slowness. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
I entered a world of virtual water coolers, lively and frank discussions followed by quick, almost instant implementation. And then it struck me: this was no ordinary workplace.
The workplace: A place in heaven
Yes, we are all based in separate countries and yes we have a virtual water-cooler up in the cloud (Skype and WhatsApp). It wasn’t easy at first to get accustomed to this ‘international-work-from-home’ office, but as soon as you settle into this, you realise what an education it is.
It never ceases to amaze me how international — much in the spirit of the industry we work in — the company is! Each team member is based in a different country and is entitled to all the public holidays in his or her own country (in addition to an unlimited vacations policy!). Even during the discussions, it is wonderful how the different cultures blend together to create a mix of innovative yet culturally sensitive thinking. Great workplaces are characterised by their capability to generate a vast gene pool of diverse ideas. Ours certainly is one which does this exceedingly well.
The Work: A model way of life
Building products is hard; building products for an industry as complicated and as continuously-evolving as aviation is even harder.
When I set out to create new products for aviation at SimpliFlying, I had no idea about the sheer complexity of the industry. I learnt it the hard way. We started off with a product that we believed would change the face of airports and how they raise capital for investment. We put months of hard work and thought behind it. When we thought it was ready, we reached out to the industry for feedback: and are we glad we did that. It was painfully clear that the industry wasn’t prepared for it. Having worked at it for 4 hard months we had to shelve it for a day the industry would be more ready for it.
Failure at the first attempt was hard. However, it was again the wonderful team at SimpliFlying that helped me regain focus and to work on a whole new product with even more enthusiasm.
Together we identified that most our clients face huge challenges in linking their social media performance to their organisational objectives. This not only severely limits the extent to which social media can help to organisations but also hugely frustrates marketing managers since they can’t quantify their contribution to the company! We aimed to build a product to overcome this challenge.
Six months later we had an exciting new product with us. Yet even after the product was ‘built’ there was an additional step required: airline feedback.
Over the past 6 months we have taken feedback from numerous airlines, understanding their organisations and their needs whilst continuously improving the product. After numerous working weekends, 8 hour long calls, webinars at 12 midnight, or crunching over 600 routes and 600 social pages data, we have successfully built the world’s first model to quantitatively link airline social media performance directly to their routes performance and organisational objectives — and we are ready to ship this June!
However, the most unexpected thing that happened to me in the past year had nothing to do with the product I help build. It was during these calls with the passionate people working in airlines, that I fell in love with this industry and the people that make it. It made a romantic out of me, despite my best efforts I must admit.
Friends, Romans, Company-Men
If there is a place where the most driven, iconoclastic and amicable people find their calling, then that place is SimpliFlying. The credit most certainly goes to Shashank, our CEO and storyteller in chief, for creating an environment and individual space where we can be different in our own ways and still work towards on single goal.
Keeping the ship steady even in stormy seas is Shubhodeep (A.K.A Shubhodaddy) who leads operations and firefighting. He is the go to man for all our troubles — personal or professional — and makes sure that despite our remote work stations we achieve our goals for the company.
Marco is the voice of reason and brings together the best of two worlds, aviation and marketing. His structured thinking and the depth of his knowledge about aviation marketing adds the all important qualitative aspect to the quantitative models I build. And of course it doesn’t hurt that he has a great sense of humour.
Guen is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever worked with. The PR whiz from Singapore is perhaps the most dedicated team member, someone whom we would all trust our lives with. Her constant questioning of existing norms and methods has influenced and improved the way we work and think.
The most recent addition to the team is Vishal, a firebrand social media expert who is creating his own niche in the company. His work and its impact on the team is pretty obvious and I look forward to working more with him.
Crucially, despite the fact that SimpliFlying comprises such remarkable individuals, it is greater than the sum of all. I believe that is because we genuinely like each other and the work we do. We truly believe that we, at SimpliFlying, help airlines become remarkable and it is that unshakeable belief that brings us together.