I joined Pizza Corner at the turn of the millennium, in Dec 1999. I was hired as Manager (Human Assets and Training). The designation was both fun and profound because “people” were not called resources but assets !
I had neither education nor experience in the hospitality industry and I had eaten a pizza just once before joining Pizza Corner. But Sumir hired me for my customer service skills so I was in a good spot. I absolutely loved working in Pizza Corner. Met some amazing people who are still very close friends and learnt a whole lot about the industry !
Life connects the dots backwards …. I met Senthil in Pizza Corner and we became really good friends. I joined Spectramind after Pizza Corner and met Usha, who happened to be Senthil’s instructor at IHM Chennai. Got both of them connected and all of us are very close friends. Our connection with Senthil is really strong, because in 2018, when we were at the Dachau concentration camp near Munich, we ended up meeting Senthil’s relatives on his wife’s side. What are the chances of that happening ??! Totally wild coincidence. Now Subbu and Suchi are good friends and we connect over WhatsApp. Hahaha.
We were staying in Munich with Keshav and Anu, again connected through PZC (Pizza Corner acronym). Keshav was part of the first MT (Management Trainee) batch that we hired in Delhi in Jan 2000. He and Anu are practically family. We went and stayed with them in 2019 again and it was like we were at home with our younger brother or sister.
I not only learnt making a Pizza at PZC, but also learnt serving in a restaurant, running a kitchen, washing dishes, cleaning toilets… and ever since then, I have a huge soft corner for anyone who is a part of the service industry. If I find two candidates with equal capabilities with one of them having served in a hotel/restaurant, I will hire that candidate. The hospitality industry trains you to do your work without drama.
During the training at Spectramind (now Wipro BPO), one of the trainees commented saying, its such a long day .. and I was smiling, thinking back to a restaurant kitchen where your shift doesn’t end till the next person is in. It could be an 8 hour shift or a 16 hour shift. In my opinion, every child must work in the armed forces and in the hospitality industry before getting into the corporate world. Their work ethic is sorted and they understand what is dignity of labour. After that is just a question of unleashing their potential.
Why am I remembering Pizza Corner suddenly ?
I have one of the PZC aprons with me still and I wear it often when am cooking. Also a couple of days back, I shared a picture of mine that was taken in 2000 with Sapna, my college friend, to show how short I had cut my hair back then. That picture is interesting, also because its probably the only one where I am laughing in a studio pic. Prashant, my colleague was with me and he cracked a joke just when the studio guy clicked the picture !
I have put one of my recent photographs along with it – 21 years apart 😂.
Bumping into Vicky at the Mumbai airport, to meeting Varun at Aon Hewitt’s Bangalore office, Sriwant setting up his own digital marketing agency at Hyderabad to KVK’s 60th birthday celebration, Rajan getting connected over FB to Vaishali never adding a year to her age, Hashim completing his doctorate to Girish becoming a Tattoo studio owner, Siju becoming a part of the Customer Service team in Hewitt to Rohit becoming the HR leader in Aon Hewitt, Nikhil meeting me at ISB to Antoine never forgetting to wish me on my birthday – these 21 years are filled with memories.
I am still in touch with several people from PZC and I was sad when it shut down because it was truly a great place to work, long before these fancy surveys started naming organisations as “Best Places to Work”.
On an aside – PZC is the only stint where I wore the saree to work just once. I was always in the official uniform :). Before PZC and post PZC, the saree has been my uniform !