[March 2009 in C7 GSK House. Brentford]
A covert undercover mission was assigned to me. I was to escort Sir Andrew Witty, GSK’s former CEO and Claire Thomas, Senior Vice President of HR, to a room where a formal business meeting was being held.
I remember laughing with Andrew and Claire who were both delighted to share their plan with me. They were about to make an unexpected announcement at this meeting to a visionary leader and team that would change the lives of numerous GSK employees, in many communities across the world and bring fresh insight back to change GSK. The PULSE Programme was to become airborne.
I remember opening the door, smiling and then looking behind me to give Andrew and Claire a discreet nod as indication to enter the room. The buzzing atmosphere, the energy suddenly changed to a complete silence as the attendees acknowledged Andrew and Claire, some with bemused expressions on their faces. However, I clearly remember noticing the beaming smile of one lady, the visionary who was holding that meeting, Ahsiya Mencin. Ahsiya continued to welcome Andrew and Claire and started to give them an update.
That was one of my first memorable interactions with the PULSE team over 9 years ago and it is still quite a vivid memory for me. I left the room as Andrew and Claire started to make their staggering announcement.
The PULSE programme established in 2009 and has sent 705 GSK PULSE volunteers from 63 countries, to work in 120 non-profit organisations based in 68 countries on very diverse, home, away from home and international assignments … ‘missions’.
My mission for that day was accomplished, however as I walked away I had already acquired a new personal mission, which was to be a PULSE volunteer someday.
[2013 GSK and SAVE The Children]
Hands Together Forces Combined. In 2013, GSK embarked on an ambitious global partnership with Save the Children to help save one million children’s lives. This unique collaboration brings together two organisations from different sectors through a knowledge-sharing model, going beyond the traditional charity-corporate fundraising model. PULSE supports this partnership by lending our most valuable asset – our people – to build capacity at Save the Children. Working hand in hand with Save the Children teams, our PULSE volunteers are improving children’s access to basic healthcare, enabling health workers in the poorest communities, helping to develop child-friendly medicines, and working at local and global levels towards stronger child health policies. Excerpt from GSK.com
Following a lively development focused conversation with my manager, I requested his support and approval to allow me to formerly apply for a position with PULSE.
[09 January 2018 15:10]
My request had been approved! I was really surprised but equally delighted that my manager and team were so committed to investing in my development and so my career stars began their alignment.
My application was in! The drive behind it was to fulfil that aspiration coupled with another personal, quite emotional reason which I will save for another blog.
The recruitment process really made me question my motivations, but what I most resonated with was, that I am a Sikh, and it’s my duty as a Sikh to give in whatever way possible to the community. This spirit of giving is an important message from Guru Nanak who formalised the three pillars of Sikhism. This could be another opportunity to shine my light and share it.
After logging on I scanned my inbox for emails from my manager, it’s a habit and just the way I prioritise my workload. I became transfixed on one particular email from him and it just simply said ‘Congratulations’. I sank into my chair, curious and slightly anxious, the noise in the background disappeared, I took a deep breath and clicked on the email message. It was my new PULSE mission. I positioned the mouse over the attachment and clicked. I opened my eyes slowly and sat at my desk, very quiet for a few minutes. (For those of you that know me, I can hear you saying, ‘Well that must have been difficult!’.)
I was astonished and confused by the words and as they sank in, I broke into a smile. I had been successful in my application and selected to work for Save The Children in Makati, The Philippines following months of rigorous preparation and hard work.
After breaking the news in true Manjit fashion to my personal and professional circles I attended the training at GSK House. Oh My! What a thorough training session that was!
I was introduced to so many inspirational colleagues who told the most colourful and motivational stories which also presented a unique opportunity to establish a strong multinational network, on every form of social media. For me the world got smaller that week.
So many emotions were experienced in those three days, crying from being inspired, crying with sadness, to crying with laughter! The orientation training was a hit with everyone, the PULSE team had equipped us with every tool and anticipated our every need for our forthcoming deployments – it just could not be improved!
I still feel warm and fuzzy as I reflect on my journey so far. I have made so many new friendships, in so many cities of the world, all united in our enthusiasm for volunteering.
Today I am excited yet nervous, focused yet challenged, courageous yet on the edge but mostly, prepared to;
Change Myself … Change Communities … Change GSK.
The adrenalin is flowing – Mission accepted!
Have you had an ambition that has manifested in the most spectacular way?
PS: That is Daddy Marbaha in my main picture. Any mighty missions that I have undertaken during my life have always succeeded remarkably well when I had his hearty blessing. Thanks Daddy.