Welcome to our Inspiring Careers series, where we are celebrating the uniqueness of our employee’s career journeys. This series is all about learning more about the different ways our people have shaped their careers at Three UK and what #LifeAtThree is really like.
This week we are talking to Ruchika Harpalani, Transformation & Business Process Design in the Portfolio and Change Office
What did you see yourself doing for a job when you were younger?
Passionate about travel and food, my career journey started without a clear path. My heart yearned for exploring the world – experiencing diverse cultures, meeting new people, and indulging in unique culinary adventures. Unsure of a specific job, I embraced the flow during the initial phase of my professional career, driven by a simple objective: to excel in whatever I did and ensure it aligned with my passion for travel and food.
When did you join Three and what role did you start with?
I interviewed at Three in the Mumbai office on 03/03/2003, a date etched in my memory. It coincided with the first day of the business going live, creating an electrifying atmosphere in the contact centre that fuelled my desire to work there. After successfully clearing all interview rounds, I joined as a call-taking agent on 17/03/2003.
Tell us a bit about your career path at Three and how you came to be in your current role?
I started my journey with Three in the Mumbai Contact Centre, initially as a call-taking agent when it was part of Three UK. Being part of the pioneer teams allowed me to diversify my experience. After handling calls for nine months, I transitioned to the Support function, where I trained new hires and later served as a Quality coach. Returning to Operations, I led teams in Sales and Retention.
During the setup of the Retention function in 2005, I designed the Retention processes. This experience led me to explore Change Management in 2007, a role where I thrived despite it being initially unknown territory. In January 2010, I seized the opportunity to take on a role in the Maidenhead office, focusing on Change & Operations for Retention.
Since then, my career has revolved around various aspects of Change Management, encompassing planning, scoping, execution, and post-implementation reviews.
Moving locations for a job is a huge life change; what were the logistics of this to organise and how did this impact you?
Because of my passion for travel, the decision to move to the UK office was a natural one for me. The prospect of pursuing my passion in a new location, coupled with my aversion to heat, made the move to a colder climate all the more appealing.
Upon arrival in Maidenhead, reality set in. Transitioning from the bustling city of Mumbai to the relatively quiet Maidenhead, where at 5:30 pm, the town seemed quiet, presented its challenges. Spontaneity was rare, and solo lunch breaks were the norm.
Despite the initial adjustments, my familiarity with the UK offices (Maidenhead and Glasgow) and the existing culture, nurtured during multiple visits, eased the transition. The people became my anchor, transforming the workplace into a welcoming environment where I forged lasting friendships.
This move marked my first time away from home, family, and friends. From setting up my own home to managing finances independently and building new friendships, I was essentially starting anew. Thirteen years now, I have built some great bonds – friends who are family, provided for my family, and, I like to believe, succeeded in pursuing my passion for travel.
What moment in your career stands out the most for you and why?
During the lockdown, my standout experience unfolded when I was temporarily redirected from my day job to critical business initiatives. Given the diverse locations of our contact centres in Glasgow, Mumbai, and Pune, the varying lockdown rules in India and the UK necessitated a shift in Contact Centre support to the UK for continuity.
In response, I undertook the formidable task of preparing 400 Retail employees for our web-chat operations within a tight two-week timeframe, bridging the gap until the India Contact Centre could resolve their logistics. This challenge not only tested my stakeholder management, maturity, resilience, agility, and delivery capabilities but also required navigating unfamiliar territory with Retail stakeholders.
In a period of heightened connectivity needs, collaboration across levels and teams became paramount. My responsibilities ranged from ensuring Retail staff had the necessary connectivity and devices to working closely with the Learning team to tailor content for purpose. The success of this initiative, for me, signified a dual achievement – delving into a new business area and delivering results promptly in a challenging environment.
How do you make decisions? What process do you follow?
I begin by comprehending the problem statement or the end goal, identifying the individuals impacted and interested along with their motives. I explore various options, analysing their pros and cons to make informed decisions. Typically, I have a backup plan (Plan B) and sometimes even an alternative (Plan C) in case things deviate from the initial plan.
I consider myself pragmatic, and my decision-making process is predominantly rational and analytical.
How would you describe Three’s culture?
Having been with Three for over two decades, I’ve witnessed diverse leadership styles. The enduring culture has been one of dynamism and change, marked by a positive attitude, abundant energy, and a constant influx of ideas. Three thrives on change and swift decision-making, creating an environment focused on people. I value the flexibility that Three provides to its employees.
What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to try something new in their career?
I believe success hinges on attitude and transferable skills brought to the table. With a willingness to learn, everything else falls into place. While certain roles may demand specialized skills, exceptions exist, and a strong will can often bridge the gap.
Who in our business inspires you and why?
I draw inspiration from individuals who embody distinct values. For instance:
Justin Conry, Director of Business Planning impresses me with his remarkable oratory skills, seamlessly combining humour, seriousness, and vulnerability to effectively convey messages.
Laura McAleer, Head of Legal: consumer and Network Regulation & competition, who’s passion for her work and meticulous attention to detail leave a lasting impression.
Wayne Adamson, Senior Manager – Enterprise Architecture, consistently demonstrates a resourceful approach to resolving challenging situations.