Monday, January 27, 2014

Fare in the Air

As a kid, I loved travelling in airplanes.  The process of getting to the airport, boarding a flight, meeting the airline crew was exciting to the mind of an 8-9 year old.  Once seated, I would look forward to what I viewed as the highlight of the journey – the Airline Meal!  I would anxiously look back where the meals would be stored and wait with bated breath to see what would be served.  I loved being given a choice of two, sometimes three (wow!)  options at serving time.  My mind would register in slow motion the entire process of being asked my choice followed by the steward picking out the tray, then adding a dinner roll (sometimes) and then setting it on my tray.  By far, this used to the best part of my trip!  Needless to say, I would devour the meal and sit back satisfied till the next surprise would show up.  And I happily ate every one of them!

With experience and exposure to food, I got more discerning of food choices and tastes. I have come to realize that airline food cannot compare with restaurant food. Of course, there is a huge difference between a freshly cooked meal and a pre-cooked one. However, I have to admit the excitement still lingers.  My favorite food items are the cheeses and the butters. Put in between a roll, the resulting sandwich is the best comfort food when you are so far away from home, in the middle of nowhere. I would like to see a hotter tea and coffee beverage, though. These for some reason are almost always lukewarm.  The foodie in me also wishes for green tea options or a cappuccino offering. 

In all fairness, some airlines do make an effort to make sure their meals across the board are above average.  Food is a major expense for the airlines and they are realizing that investing in it a little to satisfy the long haul passengers helps the bottom line.  Here’s a fun factoid on why airline meals taste the way they do.  Altitude apparently changes the taste of these pre-prepared meals, which are previously cooked and chilled.  

All in all, the kid in me still eagerly awaits the food cart for the “main entrĂ©e” that will accompany me while I catch up on a movie I’ve been meaning to watch (selections of which are incredible on some airlines, but that’s a discussion for another time!)

Do you have a favorite airline meal or a carrier whose meals are just delizioso?  What are your thoughts on the bento-style tray that we get served?

Charmi Ramchandani

Account Manager

Thursday, January 16, 2014

You have worked here HOW long???

No, I don’t usually get asked quite in that tone of voice, but it seems in the current climate that it becomes more difficult to find people who have been with the same organisation for extended periods the way it was in the “old” days. This is strongly evident in the repeated services we offer for training new analysts.

Let’s face it, new blood is good. If you spend too long doing the same thing, it can get stale after a while. New faces bring new perspectives, new approaches and often new attitudes. It may sometimes take a while for these to come to the forefront, but they most likely will.

However, this must also be balanced against a wealth of experience held in the hands of the old timers. They know the people, the processes and the technology with which they have been dealing for years. They know who to go to when needed, what workarounds exist, and generally how to make things happen.

But my favourite training line usually brings horror to attendees’ faces: “What if you are hit by a bus tomorrow?” No, I am not being pessimistic, but accidents do happen. What happens to that wealth of information in the unlikely event of an accident? Your Business Processes, manuals and documentation most likely cover the strict guidelines, but seldom are the workarounds, the personal relationships, the tricks of the trade laid down for future generations.

Whether it is a formal training session, consulting interviews, or just a general client visit, getting feedback from everyone is always interesting. Sometimes it requires pointed questioning, at other times hypothetical scenarios, but in most cases, people want to share information. They may simply not have had the correct platform or reason for doing so. Sharing it with us reinforces our partnership, and in many cases we have acted as a type of repository for information which has enabled business continuity in unforeseen circumstances.

And acting as that repository also allows us insights which give us more ammunition when thinking about problem solving approaches. I like to think that over the years I have picked up a thing or two. Sometimes that little revelation from a year or two ago may trigger an approach which would otherwise have been missed. And if I hadn’t been there for that discussion a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have heard it mentioned. Not documented, but mentioned, possibly over a coffee break or the dinner table.

This first day of January heralded the start of my 16th year with Revenue Technology Services. I deal with new clients regularly, but am still in close contact with some of the same clients that I was on the day I first started. Their businesses have changed and evolved, as has ours, yet in the spirit of partnership, we continue to grow together.

Even 16 years later, I still look forward to meeting with the clients, as each visit brings something new. The interaction never becomes stale and even repetitive activities, such as training new analysts, still brings new information to light.

When chatting to Raja Kasilingam recently, one of the things I had to highlight was that although I have been here forever (and I am not our longest serving team member), each day still brings new challenges, seldom a dull moment, and I still enjoy coming to work.

So the answer to the opening question: “Far too long, but not long enough”