Not every day do you meet a person who is brimming with a joie de vivre so infectious that it uplifts whoever they come in contact with. An interaction with Locus’ head of recruitment, Robin Abraham, is bound to be a memorable one because of this quality in him. He possesses an almost palpable kind of energy, and his take on life is refreshing, to say the least. He is one of the few rare people who take one day at a time.
Robin has been with the company for over five years and carries the same passion he brought with him the first day he met co-founders Nishith Rastogi and Geet Garg in 2015. The meeting took place in a two-bedroom apartment that was also Locus’ first office. He remembers it being nothing like the typical interviews he had given in the past. “It was conversational, and I did not feel like I was being tested. They were keen to know what kind of work I’d be happy doing,” he tells us. There were about eleven people in that apartment then, all of whom had the same kind of energy as him. This was a match made in heaven.
A man with no plan
Robin didn’t grow up thinking he’d be working in Human Resources; it was never part of the plan. In fact, there was never a plan, to begin with. Born and brought up in Bangalore, he studied Business Management from Christ University and started working soon after—plunging into hardcore sales with the TATA group. It was an early start, and there has been no looking back since.
“Things have been thrown at me, and, luckily, I have been able to face it. I have never planned for my life, and I don’t know if it’s good advice to give anyone either, but I just took each day as it came,”
However, Robin wasn’t short of hopes and dreams and often had his head in the clouds. He grew up wanting to be a pilot but soon learned that it would require being good at math and science, so he’d never get close to it. He wanted to be a guitarist as well but didn’t even have a guitar at home. There were many dreams but few plans to see them through. This changed, of course. Certain wisdom came with age, and lady luck shone on many aspects of his life as well.
The few chances he took with his career turned out well, eventually. Years later, after having worked as a process developer and operations manager, even starting his own business for a brief period, he maintains that he is a salesperson at heart. HR was something he’d never done, but his people skills have made a seemingly monotonous job an opportunity to get to know people.
“I’m a salesman for Locus; I have to sell Locus to a person. It’s the first interaction that often leaves a lasting impression, and making these conversations interesting and successful is what drives me.”
How to find the right fit for the job?
It’s Robin’s job to identify the right people for the company, and it’s important for him to make the other person comfortable while interviewing because only then do they open up and tell you what they really want. Moving from one organization to another will always be a big thing, and it is vital for him to understand what the candidate expects from Locus.
Almost always, the concerned teams spell out a clear mandate about what they are looking for, but it’s not as simple as that.
“The resume is just a piece of paper. It’s just the first impression and doesn’t tell you anything about the person.”
Evaluation takes place on two fronts—first, they try and figure out if the candidate will be a good fit professionally. Then comes the culture bit, which is just as important, if not more. “We need a good balance. Someone might be brilliant professionally, but if there is a vast difference in the cultural outlook, then it becomes difficult in the long run,” he says. Still, neither of the two parameters are set in stone, as these traits can often be acquired over time. What is essential, however, is the right intention. Willingness to adapt is a big plus.
Working with family
Willingness to adapt has also been one of Robin’s many qualities. When he started out at Locus in January 2016, he was asked to see the account part of things. The first month went looking at excel sheets and the subsequent two managing customer success with Sreedevi Kaimal, who is now heading Growth & Strategy here. A leading online food delivery company was one of the first big clients then, and his job was to go to all their kitchens, speak with the riders and train them on how to use the app. “Sree would speak in Hinglish (Hindi and English), and I would translate everything into Kannada (the language spoken in the south Indian state of Karnataka). I remember sitting in the kitchens with these boys and making sure these boys were using the app,” he reminisces.
Back then, people were a bit hesitant about technology. They feared that it would take their livelihood from them. A big challenge was to convince these delivery persons that they were here to make their life easier. No job was too small or too big back then for Locus employees. He remembers changing bulbs and painting the walls of the first office at one point too. The founders were not exempt from this either. He says he had seen Nishith, Locus’s CEO, do deliveries on bikes when the food delivery company was short of people.
Having seen this side of Locus to witnessing it become what it has today—a 250+ global team—has been the best part of being in the company for him. The encouraging attitude of the team was another great plus. “Everyone was encouraging of my opinions or suggestions. No one was looked down upon or laughed at if they asked a silly question,” he says. He was hesitant to give HR a shot because he felt like a “noob” when it came to the tech part of things. They were supposed to hire data scientists and engineers, and he didn’t know how to interview them. “There was constant encouragement from the team, and even if someone failed, there were people willing to guide and help,” says Robin, who considers small gestures like this a big motivator.
Life and other things
Robin calls life his biggest teacher, “It taught me that I could take up recruitment as a career. This path was not laid out by destiny or design, but something came to me.” There are many obstacles on the way, and how you overcome them defines who you are. He says he doesn’t have a fixed set of values he lives by, but if there were one thing, it would be trying to help wherever possible without expecting anything in return. It could be something as simple as helping someone push their broken-down car to the side of the road.
He is grateful for his partner, family, and friends who have supported him through thick and thin, and this extends to his family at Locus as well, “There are people here who’ve always got your back.”
When asked to share his parting thoughts—perhaps a piece of advice to all those looking up to him—he laughs and insists he shouldn’t be asked for any. Then says we shouldn’t be afraid to fall and fail often, for it is the only way to learn. He highlights the importance of being passionate about what you do as well. It’s this same passion that breathes life into his work at Locus, among other things.
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