In March 2014, I had to fire the manager of my store in Goa for theft involving our loyalty program. It took me 3 months to find a new store manager. The new guy, who was a Keralite had studied hospitality in Goa, done a post-grad in Edinburgh, was a fresher at retail but had a friendly approach and passionate drive. But when you have something exceptional, others want it too. In 7 months, he was off (very professionally) with a large apparel retailer in Margao, Goa. That’s part of the game – you win some, you lose some.
I prefer writing on lighter subjects, like my life in a village and the funny people I come across. However, having had to go through the ordeal twice in less than a year, I felt the need to share my experiences of hiring in Goa.
Retail for some reason is not viewed as an aspirational job in most parts of India and especially in Goa. Most Goans I approached with the job description replied to me with “Do I have to actually sell at the store?” “Yes” “You mean stand at the store and be a salesperson?” “Yes” “Oh, my father would not like that.” Of course, it is perfectly okay for the same people to head to Dubai and “stand at a store and be a salesperson”.
One candidate I approached was at the same salary of around Rs.9000/- for 4 years working with a Government organization that wouldn’t make him permanent. He declined even though, if he joined us he would earn more than double his current salary. Initially, I was disappointed but soon I was glad to steer clear of these brats.
Most people trained for tourism would make for great hires in the service driven retail sector. However, unless we change our attitude to working at front-end sales, Goans may miss out on one of the most rapidly growing industries of India, contributing about 22% to our GDP.
The state’s first full-fledged mall that has recently opened will hopefully expose Goans to the more organized, upmarket and glamorous side of retail. The mall is said to have directly created around 500 jobs and another 500 indirectly. I wonder what percentage of this was Goan? If we choose to miss out on opportunities like this because of our closed mindsets, it would not be fair to crib that skilled & willing “outsiders steal our jobs”.
My second concern – infrastructure. Goa may have one of the highest number of cars per capita in India, however, the lack of adequate public transport hindered my ability to hire a few candidates. I met some very talented people from South Goa who couldn’t take up the job as it would be too expensive to travel by their own scooters every day. There were others who did not own vehicles, since there is no dependable bus or train system they could not work until the required time – 9pm.
The company I work with urges us to think and hire without bias, whether it is hiring women or LGBTQ candidates. Some women, who lived near Panjim had to refuse the offer, either because their parents/husbands wanted them back by 7pm or there was no public transport at 9pm. When our Government speaks about empowering women, it would be worthwhile to think beyond the Ladli Lakshmi scheme and provide facilities that help talented and capable women, take up jobs that are currently inaccessible to them for external reasons. With the tourism industry in Goa performing poorly each year, it would be well advised to look at other service sector opportunities that could work well for us, given our hospitable nature and ease at speaking English.
My store is now managed by a girl from Kerala. Though she comes from a family that has been quite protective, her parents are proud and supportive of her job. On days when she has to work late, she drives back or they pick her up. My other employees are Bengali and Kanadiga. So we’re now a team of 4 girls and 1 guy, together we speak English, Hindi, Konkanni, our respective state languages and even a little Russian.