[Awesome Startup Employee] Ennovent’s Digbijoy Shukla, having his cake and eating it too
Digbijoy Shukla has been nominated the ‘Awesome Startup Employee’ by Peter Scheuch, Founder of Ennovent.
Digbijoy says that his DNA shows partiality towards entrepreneurship. Before he joined Ennovent he worked with other startups and even started his own ventures. He recommends startups to everyone. “At Ennovent, we don’t call ourselves employees we are more like entrepreneurs.”
The corporate bug never tempted him. “Honestly, when I was running my own startup there would be moments of weakness because all you had was invested and you have a family to support. But then again you know that you have started up to create a larger impact so you continue to push ahead,” says Digbijoy.
Founder of Ennovent Peter Scheuch’s earliest memory of Digbjoy is when he first met him at a restaurant in Delhi for his interview. “It was a time when Digbijoy was analysing whether joining Ennovent would be right for him. My first impression about him was that he was a real go-getter and would be good at getting stuff done. It was obvious that joining Ennovent was a conscious career decision for him and that he was eager to join an organisation where he could make an impact.”
He adds, “I nominated Digbijoy as he is a real go-getter and is very good at developing a strong network of clients and supporters. When Digbijoy joined Ennovent, we were a very small team of 2 – 3 people and we needed someone who could establish Ennovent in Delhi and capitalize on their network to move sales. This is exactly the kind of skills that Digbijoy brought to the table.”
Ennovent was started in 2008. “It was a young organization when I joined in 2011. I am one of the oldest employees,” says Digbijoy. When he joined, Ennovent had 4 employees and now the team has grown to 30. He is very passionate about his work. He drives strategy, management and operations and handles the community side of the business as well.
The most unique thing, says Digbijoy, is that this team of 30 is working virtually. “We are all based in different locations and work from home. It is a challenge no doubt and honestly nothing replaces face time. To ensure a great team we choose culture between skill set and culture. Along with it we have an extensive hiring policy in place. We have multiple rounds of interviews and extensive reference checks. We do not have just the HR or the vertical managers interview the person but someone from the business side too interviews that person and we follow this process even for associate level hiring.”
He adds, “We have very regular and structured team calls every week. Every year, we have a physical retreat where the entire team gets together and we do fun activities, brainstorming sessions etc. We also have more frequent meetings in different locations too. There is a lot of knowledge sharing sessions internally.”
According to Digbijoy,
The kind of work we are doing does not require us to push anyone to feel motivated. The nature of work means people are excited and motivated.
Working for Ennovent especially virtually has some great advantages too. Digbijoy lists out some. “We are more like entrepreneurs than employees. Weekends are off, we get a long vacation period, working from home is great and there is a lot of flexibility too.”
Peter says, “Digbijoy is a really committed team member and he is very hard working. You always have the feeling that Digbijoy treats Ennovent as his own company and doesn’t feel as if he is just another employee. He is entrepreneurial and excels at mentoring the newer team members so that they too are as excited about what Ennovent does as he is.”
Peter reminisces, “At the very early stages, we once had a meeting with USAID where both of us were present. Digbijoy did a great job of explaining to USAID what we do and the vision we have for Ennovent. Seeing him get USAID excited about us the same way that I, as a Founder, would do was amazing.”
Digbijoy holds that passion is the foundation for starting up. He says, “I have been associated with startups for a long time. In 2005, startups were not fashionable.” He says, “If you are not passionate but are in it because it’s trendy, or a great opportunity, or because you do not want to work under a boss then it is not the right choice. As long as you are intensely geared towards solving a problem and taking up the challenge then you are going the right way. Once the foundation is in place most of the smart people figure out rest of the stuff that is part of getting started.”
Hiring people is one side of the coin the other side is letting them go. Digbijoy has been there and done that. At the startup level he has had to let go of people. He says, “In the early days of hiring when we did not have an extensive hiring process in place we would get call from clients for a project and as the delivery had to be fast we would hire people real fast. But sometimes, however hard you work you cannot find a fit. So far even though we let go of people we had very open conversations with them and most of the time it has been about the culture than the skill set. It is not everybody’s cup up of tea to work in a virtual environment or in a startup and we respect that.”
On the professional front, Digbijoy says he has grown in terms of skill set, visibility and learning. The challenge has been building the team and finding people of the same mindset who share a common vision and are willing to work at a lesser pay. “Also, you are on a discounted salary and that is part of a startup environment. You have to learn to ride the lean period for it won’t last forever.”
“Work life balance is not an issue since I work from home. We are entitled to 6 weeks vacation in a year. Peter had to threaten me with a pay cut when I did not exhaust my leave last year," reveals Digbijoy.
About Peter, he says, “I have known him for more than three years. Peter is extremely flexible. He doesn’t seem like a boss or an employer. He treats everyone as his peer and even though he is not in India he respects the team on the ground and respects your viewpoint.”
According to Digbijoy, “The team at Ennovent is young, fantastic, energetic and highly motivated. We have not seen such motivation levels in startups even where people work together. It is a highly skilled and committed team. Everyday is a learning day and even associates are allowed to express their ideas.”
To his team, he says,
In my 11 years of working life, this is the best team I have worked with and I am extremely honoured to be a part of this team. Let’s just continue to learn and grow with each other.
On the personal front, training and acting are two activities which are very close to his heart. Training is a passion and he gives a lot of guest lectures in colleges. Another activity he wants to pick up again is acting. He has done a lot of theatre during college and did a course with NSD too. When he has time he plans to get back to theatre.
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