Conversations over Coffee at InMobi

Maithreyi Sairam, Reporting Live from InMobi HQ, Bangalore

A lot can happen over a cup of coffee, don’t you think?

It’s that day of the month at InMobi when the cafeteria is bustling with energy and conversations. With steaming cups of coffee in their hands, InMobians from different departments are seen interacting with each other and discussing different ideas. With a dynamic atmosphere set for the day, ‘Conversations over Coffee’ (COC) is set to begin at the HQ in Bangalore.

The way this event works is simple. All you need to do is to schedule some time with the individual you want to talk to, and meet them at the cafeteria setting! Through these informal discussions, you can ideate about anything and everything under the sun; you could learn something from the other person about their job, or suggest ideas to the execs to improve the organization, or simply just relax and get to know another InMobian.

We truly believe that great conversations stir great ideas. Our disruptive people practices featured in The Economic times were simply based on conversations; conversations with InMobians on what they will like their organization to be. An event like COC was introduced to fuel a give and take relationship through the conversations between InMobians from across functions and teams, motivating and inspiring each other in the process.

Themes:

The 5th edition of COC has a main theme of conversation with the executives, where InMobians get to schedule time with the executives of InMobi and indulge in conversations that can lead to an unexpected start to something big. The previous COC’s were themed differently and had different agendas. The last COC centered on Technology, brought different teams together to discuss the progress of the company and brought to light prospective areas for improvement through the discovery of four major problems. Diverse groups then began tackling these problems and simple conversations led to some great solutions.

Line-up:

This episode of Conversations over coffee included executives getting to know InMobians. The venue was full of Exec power with Abhay Singhal, Piyush Shah, Krishnendu Majumdar, Manish Dugar and Mohit Saxena, leaders from different functions in the organization who were ready to learn, mentor or simply relax and have an informal chat with anyone who wished to talk to them.

There was a healthy exchange of diverse perspectives in the room; InMobians from various functions such as Human Resources, Marketing, Product, Ad Operations, Finance and Technology, interacting with the Execs to learn something new.

Conversation Starters:

They entered, partnered and then went ahead to pick the type of seating they were comfortable with, be it a Bohemian beach setting, comfortable bean bags or just a lazy chair. The atmosphere let the air of initial awkwardness pass by and the two got talking. The whole idea of this event according to Krishnendu Majumdar (VP Products), is to “walk in with a perspective and walk out with a changed mind”. You can never tell where a conversation might take you. You might end up discussing just a small thought you once had, which could lead to bringing out a change in the company systems altogether.

Along with getting a detailed understanding of the others roles and duties, this small interaction brings about solutions to problems you probably would never raise. Abhay Singhal, Co founder & Chief Revenue Officer. always asks InMobians “if there is any one thing they would like to change about the general working of the company”. Today, he was able to conceptualize two different ideas that could make hiring practices better.

Another facet of the conversations was that of mentor-ship. This event opened the doors to many who needed guidance and the leaders became their mentors, guiding them through any rough patches or simply laying out a foundation for them to achieve their goals.

Moment of Discovery:

Kevin Frietas, Director – HR, provided an interesting anecdote for this event in the form of a painting; “This whole platform of COC can be viewed as a painting where the InMobian and the executive bring in their canvases and paint brushes separately. When they meet at the venue, they need to create a masterpiece together that is meaningful to the both of them.” InMobians have been exposed to the culture of conversations over coffee for some time now, but as Mohit Saxena, Chief Technology Officer, puts it, “a theme has been emerging, this time it was that of relaxation, mentorship, solutions and learning.”

There were many things that people discovered through the event about themselves. There was introspection and retrospection, laughter and seriousness, mentoring and complaining but in the end, as Manish Dugar, Chief Finance Officer, puts it, you definitely “discover a friend”.