Chatting with Sangram, you’re immediately put at ease by his calm demeanour and warm sense of humour. As he recounts his journey with BMES, Sangram repeatedly expresses his appreciation for those who have supported him along the way, yet it’s impossible not to notice that his unwavering determination and tenacity to accomplish his goals are equally significant. His story is a vivid reminder that with perseverance and commitment, the possibilities are endless.
“I come from a very small town called Warana in Kolhapur and moved to large city of Pune for the first time in 2012. I grew up speaking Marathi, my local language, but when I moved to Pune, I was suddenly surrounded by the culture of speaking English which was all new to me!”
Sangram first joined BMES in 2013 and spent one year working with the back-office team. After about a year however, his family encouraged him to move back to their hometown to help expand the family business.
“I made the decision to leave BMES and focus on the business, but after about three years, things weren’t going so well” Sangram recalls. “I tried to turn things around, but things just weren’t working as I’d originally planned. I was also about hit the age of 30! In India, by that point in life, you should really be thinking about getting married and settling down.
I knew who I wanted to marry, but as you know, in India, 80 or 90% of marriages are arranged. Her family liked me, we got along well, but they weren’t ready to give us their blessing. Suddenly I was facing two major challenges – establishing my career path and pursuing my love marriage.”
After three and half years of dedicating himself to the family business, Sangram began to consider a move back to Pune. He’d done well in the year he’d worked with BMES and had received a lot of recognition within the company. He recalls that the prospect of a stable career path to support his family and build his future was appealing. It was, however, a difficult decision to make.
“I had a friend, an old BMES colleague who had started his own recruitment company and was now supporting BMES with their internal hiring. He offered to put me in touch with internal HR, and I was eventually invited back for an interview. This was more than three years after I had initially left the company, so I wasn’t exactly sure about how I’d be received.
I visited the office for my interview and met Sunita and Nam for the first time. Sunita was the new India Head, and Nam was manager of the back office and operations. It was a bit of a shock to realise that my interview would be held in English! Now I faced another major challenge…
In the past 3 or 4 years of running my business in Kolhapur, I had been only dealing with local Marathi speaking customers and employees. I hadn’t spoken English at all! Hindi is of course our common language in India, but I hadn’t been speaking that either. Watching movies in Hindi is very different to speaking it! Even using a computer was a total restart for me. Thankfully though, Sunita and Nam had already received some very positive feedback about my previous work with BMES which I think was why they agreed to meet with me.
As soon as I entered the interview room, I told them, “This is the thing – I cannot speak in English, but I will try to speak in Hindi. If you can give me that chance, I’ll improve myself in three or four months. If you are ok with that, then I can stay and do the interview” – I really didn’t want to waste their time!”
Sangram recalls how they both greeted this with friendly laughter and put him at ease. “Just speak Sangram, its ok, just speak.”
“So, in Hindi, we spent an hour talking about my journey with the business, my experiences over the past few years, why I wanted to come back, and at the end of the interview, they directly gave me the offer. I didn’t know why, and honestly, I still don’t know! I just signed it and asked them to give me a few weeks to wrap up all my other business.
So, I re-joined BMES after three years! I started off sourcing candidates on LinkedIn for a major RPO client we had just signed, along with two staff members who were responsible for contacting them over the phone in English.”
(Sangram and members of the BMIC Team)
“It was in those first months, that I realised I had a major gap to fill in terms of developing my knowledge and skills which really motivated me to give it my all!
I decided to start coming the office on Saturdays, which for me was very simple, I figured that the more I worked, the more I would learn and improve myself.
Everything started going really well. I began receiving a lot of appreciation from the consultants I was supporting in Singapore and Thailand, and one by one, the candidates I had sourced were being placed in our client company!”
(Sangram and members of the BMIC Team)
“So, then I began to think about what was next! I was ready to learn something new and of course earn more money too, so I decided I wanted to move on to calling, but of course, I couldn’t speak English all that well… That being said, when I find something I can’t do, I want to figure out a way to be able to do it!
I made a point of listening to how the callers on my team would speak with the candidates and introduce roles in Singapore and Thailand, so I began practicing it to myself aloud, word for word, every single time I rode my bicycle to and from the office!
Finally, after a few months of preparation with Nam and Sunita, I got the chance to make the move. At first it was difficult adapting to speaking in English over the phone, but Sunita helped me tremendously. She would record my calls and together we would review them and practice together.
After 15 months I had achieved an unprecedented total of 50 candidate placements as a result of my sourcing efforts. I was supporting our big RPO client now in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia and took on leadership and management of my own team. I did this for around two and a half years, until I met Sushil.”
Sushil, who at the time, was a Senior Consultant/AVP in Singapore (now MD of our Australia office), had heard about Sangram’s work and on a personal visit to India, had asked him about his plans for the future.
“I told him I wanted to grow, and I wanted to become a consultant, which would also mean relocating to Singapore or Japan.
Sushil and I kept in touch over the months that followed, and eventually, I began supporting him by introducing executive level candidates for retained search across Asia Pacific, as well as our big RPO client. The two businesses are quite different, and it was a challenge managing two separate processes, but Sushil and Sunita gave me the chance to develop my skills in this area.
Towards the end of 2020, Sunita decided to move me into a new role supporting Executive Search Retainer projects across the APAC region as well as building and leading a new team from scratch. Within a year, I had scaled the team to around 10 people.”
(Sangram and Sushil)
“Together we began gradually planning my transition into a consultant role and discussing a potential future move to our Singapore office. I was told that this could really happen within the next few months, which was exciting, but I had one other big challenge yet to overcome…
I still hadn’t received the blessing for my marriage! Since it was a love marriage, we faced the challenge of getting both of our families on board. I was concerned that if I moved to Singapore, I may not return for at least a year! I hoped to be able to get married before leaving so that my mind could be free of worry.”
Finally, they received the blessing of both families, and Sangram’s official marriage date was set for the 19th of March 2021. The traditional 3-day marriage celebrations finally commenced, but before all the ceremonies and rituals were completed, India suddenly went into lockdown!
“I suddenly had to put things on hold again and leave my hometown to return to Pune for work. Although I remained in the city, due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and lockdown, I ended up working remotely for a year!”
Sangram and his wife persevered, and finally, despite the pandemic, they were able to finalise and celebrate their marriage with a smaller ceremony.
(Sangram, Sangram’s wife, Pooja, and Sunita)
The journey, however, was far from over. Next came the challenge presented by visa and travel restrictions. Sangram’s dream of moving overseas and into a consultant role had been totally put on hold.
“It almost felt like an exam! A test of my problem-solving abilities, a total test of patience. I was alone throughout most of covid, and things were not really going according to plan career-wise. I was more than ready to take the next step, but it was all completely out of my hands. It was incredibly frustrating at the time!
Finally, last December, Sunita and Sushil began supporting my re-application for a Singapore work visa, and in the meantime, I was invited to visit on a business trip for two weeks.
This was the first time I had ever taken a flight. I had never been to an airport, let alone travelled outside of India. I’d see the sign for Pune airport, but the first time I ever went there was when I flew to Singapore!”
(Sangram departing from Pune airport)
“My first international flight, first airport, first experience like this. Those two weeks were completely life-changing days for me. I reached Singapore airport, booked a taxi, took in the huge buildings, the pristine roads, the city, I felt completely dazed for some time!
I told myself…Ok be confident, this has been your dream for 5 years, don’t be nervous…Then I met my team, and everyone was just so welcoming and supportive. After spending two weeks there, I returned to India with a newfound sense of insight and inspiration. The experience had given me a clear understanding of how I could develop my skills further. I knew precisely what steps to take to grow and improve, and I was eager to get started.”
(Sangram with members of the Singapore team)
“That December, we finalized my work visa application, and on January 4th, I officially made the move to Singapore! It’s been a few months since then, and I’m still in the process of settling in and adapting to the new culture. It’s a surreal feeling, one that often makes me reflect on where I was five years ago. At that time, it was hard to imagine being here, working as an Executive Search Consultant alongside the Singapore team. The learning process has been continuous, and it has been a wild journey filled with both highs and lows. But looking back, it’s also been full of incredible achievements and valuable lessons. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown both personally and professionally. I’m grateful for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me next.”
(Sangram with his new Team in Singapore)
When asked about his aspirations for the future, Sangram’s answer is straightforward. For him, it’s not all about striving for promotions or chasing titles; it’s about immersing himself in learning and going above and beyond in his role.
Reflecting on his journey so far, Sangram speaks warmly of the support and guidance he’s received from his mentors at BMES.
“Sunita was my first teacher; she was instrumental in my growth and gave me her full trust and support. At BMES, if you’re hungry to enhance your skills in a particular area and prepared to dedicate yourself, Sunita and the team will help you achieve it. Sushil is also like a brother to me. He’s a teacher and a friend. These two people played a huge role in my life. We’re not relatives, but they went out of their way to support me as though I was family.”
(Sangram and Sunita)
Roles at BMIC (India only)
data processing executive
Business Research Executive
Talent Scout / research analyst
Roles at BMES (APAC)
Due to our rapid expansion, we are looking build our team of consultants in South Korea.
Due to our rapid expansion, we are looking for an individual contributor who can head the Regional HRBP function and start the office in Korea.
You will be managing the talent cycle for interim and other non-permanent roles, incl. business development and candidate generation.
You will be managing the 360 degrees talent cycle including business development, candidate generation and hiring consulting.
You will be managing the 360 degree recruitment lifecycle on-site from project kick-off to candidate closing.
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