Meet Bijayeta Singh, the only woman in Flipkart's last-mile fleet in Siliguri
In the remote hills of the North East, Bijayeta Singh is unfazed though she is the only woman manning the last-mile hub of Flipkart in Siliguri and delivering in the remote hills of Kurseong, Kalimpong, and Mirik.
For Bijayeta Singh, it’s the beginning of a new adventure at Flipkart’s last-mile delivery hub in Siliguri.
She is the only woman in sight, donning the signature blue-and-yellow colours of the ecommerce company, all set to embark on her career as a wishmaster.
Wishmasters, aka delivery executives, are working against the odds, to deliver happiness to the last mile in the remote hills of Kurseong, Kalimpong, and Mirik in the North East.
Just because ecommerce has made its presence felt in these areas adjoining the city of Siliguri, in the northernmost tip of West Bengal, do not be mistaken – these are places characterised by unseasonal rainfall, unpredictable climate, steep hills, long and winding roads, and limited connectivity. Every possible factor that could make the simplest act of completing a delivery seems nothing less than a miracle.
But 30-year-old Bijayeta, who has previous experience in tele-calling and sales, is surprisingly unfazed. She was, in fact, ecstatic about her job and what lies ahead, when I met her on her first day as a delivery person, during my recent trip to the North East.
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Bring on the challenges
“The job entails travelling, especially to the hill-side,” a visibly excited Bijayeta tells me adding how this was a win-win situation for her. “This was the best option for me as I enjoy travelling and I am especially fond of the hills,” she says.
“In addition to visiting the scenic hills in and around Siliguri, being a wish master for Flipkart also means getting to meet new people every day. And that’s something I enjoy,” Bijayeta continues. “Not every person is alike. For someone like me, it’s a great opportunity to get out and meet different people, understand their ways and so on.”
But working as part of the delivery fleet, a job that entails frequent travels across difficult terrain and physical toil to a certain extent, comes with its own set of challenges. Especially when you are the only woman in a team of seven to eight delivery executives manning an entire hub catering to the remote hills of Kurseong, Kalimpong, and Mirik.
Bijayeta, however, shows no signs of stress at the prospect of challenges. With a smile that refuses to leave her face, the Flipkart executive perpetually radiates positive vibes. Instead of harping on the difficulties, in fact, she believes in looking at the brighter side, which is a job filled with prospects of adventures and new learning, every day.
“Even when I was a tele-caller, I was mostly working with men. So not having many women around at the workplace hasn’t really been that much of an issue,” she says. In fact, so far, the experience working at the Siliguri last-mile hub has mostly been good, she adds.
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Climbing the ladder in a gig economy
Flipkart is touted to be among the top startups in the Indian ecosystem catering to the gig economy.
According to a Fair Work Foundation’s India-specific report published earlier this year, the Walmart-acquired company ranked highest in “fair pay” scoring across factors such as fairness of working conditions, payment of minimum wages, mitigation of task-specific risks, etc.
Not only did the poster child of Indian ecommerce manage to score on most of the parameters but it has also emerged on top of the scoreboard rating the India gig economy.
In Flipkart, Bijayeta is looking forward to a new experience, is open to expanding her horizons as she masters the tricks of the trade as a wishmaster. And overseeing her progress in this journey is the ecommerce giant, which is not only training newcomers like Bijayeta for the job but also providing them with appropriate means to chart a rewarding career.
“My training in Flipkart was all-encompassing,” says Bijayeta, “from how to interact with the customers to how to carry and deliver the packages in the hills, the training included lessons on almost everything.”
So far, Flipkart has trained over 6,000 wishmasters and will continue to train more in the coming few months. “We are beginning with training our wishmasters and we will be extending this to our 30,000 strong supply chain executives that include sorters, pickers etc,” says a spokesperson for the company.
Taking due cognisance of its blue-collar workforce and the need to give them a career progression, the company has even taken various early measures, an important initiative being its Flip Ahead programme. Under this, nearly 10,000 employees have been trained since 2016 with the vision of providing equal opportunities for both contract and full-time employees in the long term.
For people like Bijayeta, however, programmes like these yields some immediate and valuable practical benefits.
She quips, “it has become easier to understand customer behaviour now, and even handle different kinds of situations.”
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)
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