To Great Bosses Who Become Great Friends.

Many times we explicitly want to make that difference very clear – colleague and friend. I once had a colleague, who during a light-hearted conversation on how the weekend was, said she had held a party for the son’s birthday. And who doesn’t need an excuse to make merry? So I ask her why she hadn’t invited us for the son’s birthday, and she said, “You are my colleagues, not my friends.” Yo! Low blow, but well, that was a valid fact.

From then on I was cautious about who I purported to be a friend, I mean, I could be wrong, not that I want my heart broken. I haven’t drawn that line of who can be or cannot be my friend, because where do we pick our friends from anyway? It’s not like there’s a convenient store with friends on sale. It’s from work, school, home, church, at an event where you get them, that right there is our convenient stores for friends. Friends are people you want to share your stories and your personal moments with – people who will have your back through it all, the good times and the not-so-good times.

When I got into the corporate world, I was green, as green as green can get, not the color, just clueless. It was a new and different environment from what I was used to. I had only worked in smaller firms and the systems and protocols were different – from preparing budgets, to appraisals, to dealing with agencies. So I would need someone to hold my hand and show me how to go about business in these streets. And so on day one, together with my other fresh-to-corporate colleague, Comark, we encountered one Naazneen Parkar (@NaazP), our new boss, who I had only met once during my interview. Thankfully she was cool people’s, and we hit it off well.

Naazneen Parkar

Photo Credit: @KeganKing

When you’re in that world, the one thing that’s quite important, is to understand the culture of the brand that is your organization, it informs most of the decisions that you’ll need to make. And that’s the one thing I think she got right and always worked towards entrenching the same in us. Today, I feel so mature career-wise and it’s because she did not boss me, but instead mentored me into becoming a better version of who I simply am. You just feel obliged to be that better version, because someone has so much faith in you.

Naaz 1

Photo Credit: @KeganKing

I look up to her, still do, and always will, without a doubt. I tell her there’s so much I’ve learnt from her being my boss, but I’ve never really broken it down. In a nutshell, it’s because she taught me what it means to be a boss. It’s always been more than just a status.

  • It means being available and reliable, which is technically, being there where you’re needed and even when you’re not needed. That someone can randomly come over to you for assistance and you’re there and willing to assist. You don’t have to be the one who does it or has the answers, but you can give advice, refer, or even better yet, provide the solution.
  • It means getting your hands dirty to make sure stuff gets done. If it means you helping out your subordinates in case they’re stuck, or helping them get more organized to reduce their work load, or literally just sit with them to figure it all out – it could mean taking up a chunk of work if they’re overloaded.
  • It means going the extra mile, by finding out “what more can I do?” because even when it looks like everything is covered, there’s always something more you can do to make it better. If you have the opportunity, why not?
  • It means giving others a chance to shine; a chance to fly with their ideas; a chance to better themselves by giving them a direction and allowing them to be.
  • It means knowing how to create sustainable relationships with those around you and above you, because you will need each one of them in one way or another. “Go out and network, don’t be a laptop employee,” she always quips. It’s easier to conduct business when you have laid the foundation. Tough as it may sound, it’s a constant battle.
  • It means thinking outside the box. We might say it loosely as a cliché saying, but when exercised in reality, you perform wonders. From her, I’ve learnt that it’s not always about ticking a box – it’s about ensuring that what you had endeavored to do has been done to the best of your ability, that you have employed some new tactics or thought beyond the usual.
  • It means being organized, basically putting all your shit together. You can ask her for a memo or contract done in 2012, and she will just go to her file, flip some papers or if on computer (some folder) and in a few minutes hand it to over you. She never forgets because she puts it all down, with reminders and dates and faithfully follows up.
  • It means holding the fort for your team. You shielded us at first, then you gradually exposed us, so that by the time we were getting there, we were not taken by surprise or caught unawares. It got us ready to handle the pressures that come with our territories.
  • It means being willing to trust and learn from others, and then sharing your lessons so that others can learn from you. There are many times in situations or meetings you have told us “you can handle it, you’re the expert.” It may not mean much then, but it shows that you have confidence in our skills and abilities, and that in turn helps build our confidence to some crazy levels.
  • It means creating a fun and lively environment while working. She would pull off the craziest pranks in the office, or send quirky notes on how you should be smiling – sometimes everything can take a toll on you and you’re just 🙁 but she sends you a 🙂 and then asks, “anything I can help?”. Of course you’ll have it together, but that just makes your heart melt and your burdens feel lighter.

It’s been amazing working with you Naaz, and that’s the least I can say, I could write a book. It’s not every day we come across people like you – so willing to mentor, to support, to push, to encourage you, and most of all to remind you that you can do better because you have it in you. What’s even more heartwarming is that you have always been there, even more in the capacity of a friend.

Naazneen Parkar

Photo Credit: @KeganKing

And so for the short period that I’ve interacted with you, I hope it’s all slowly rubbing off on me, as (all those things up on that list), that’s the kind of boss I want to mold myself into. I just want you to know that the work you’ve put in has not been in vain. I will definitely be having a lot of #WhatWouldNaazDo? moments, because you were a force to recon with.

Even as you go to chase your dreams (seems like yesterday we came up with that catch phrase for the campaign) in faraway land, I wish you the best that the world can offer you, because even God knows you deserve it. Prepare a room (or a couch) for us because we’ll be couchsurfing in your house sooner than you know. I know we still have a lot more work to do together, so this is more like my LinkedIn recommendation to you – just in a post, because no one will judge me here if it’s lengthy.

Ps: Continue taking those courageous leaps. Love, light and peace your way honey! Cheers to a great boss who became a great friend.

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*