Employers should look beyond traditional norms and invest in fresh and young talent: Rohin Thampi of Zomato
Based in India, Zomato is a restaurant discovery platform that provides in-depth information on restaurants in India, Sri Lanka, the UAE, the UK, Qatar, and the Philippines.
We met with Zomato’s Country Manager in the UAE, Rohin Thampi, an ambitious Keralite who shared his experience and insights into a very nascent market – the e-commerce industry.
Who’s Rohin Thampi?
Rohin Thampi is the Country Manager of Zomato in the UAE. He graduated with a B.Tech Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2007 and went on to pursue a PGDM from IIM Ahmedabad in 2009.
Prior to joining Zomato, Rohin worked in multiple sectors such as FMCG and real estate. He has successfully handled and contributed to the growth of Zomato in Bangalore, India. In his current role, Rohin oversees all operations for Zomato at a national level in the UAE.
1. How do you like living and working in the UAE?
I grew up in Dubai and then moved out for a couple of years so it really feels like coming back home. I recently went for a walk from Karama to the creek with my school friends to relive old memories, and all the years away couldn’t dull the charm of that. Everything after the Emirates Towers down Sheikh Zayed road is a completely different city to me, but that just makes coming back that much more exciting.
Professionally, the UAE is an extremely exciting and constantly evolving market for us with a new adventure every day. Since our launch in Dubai in September, we have grown at a phenomenal pace in the UAE and have recently broken even with our operational costs.
When we entered the UAE we knew that there was a need for a product like ours in the market and that fact that we have been so well received has reinstalled our belief. The very high resident expat population, the high spending power of the resident and high transient population (tourists) makes for the perfect market for a product like ours. This keeps work extremely enjoyable and keeps us on our toes constantly.
2. What is your average day at work like?
I am an early riser and prefer to start my day by clearing my inbox and aligning my tasks for the day in order of priority. I then go for a 30 minute jog. It leaves my mind fresh as it gives me the perfect start to a long day.
I get into office before the team so I can then send them their tasks for the day or follow up on the meetings they have been to the day before. On most days I end up going for meetings with the Sales and Marketing team or on content collection drives with the content team to ensure that the content on the website is constantly updated.
I like to end the week with a weekly review meeting on Thursdays where we discuss the hits and misses of the week. As a startup it is essential that we constantly review what works for us in a new market and share what we’ve learned so we can create best practices.
3. What is the most important thing Zomato looks for in new hires?
I think it’s safe to say that all the 200+ people we have at Zomato globally have one thing in common: their passion for Zomato. Thus, the single most important thing I look for is the reason for which they apply to us. We look for someone who is actually passionate about the role that he/she wants to take up. We are a group of people who love our work, and that stems from the passion we have towards Zomato and also the joy we derive from what we do. Besides their passion for the company, we look for qualities like ethics, respect, attitude and skills – in that order.
4. What is the biggest challenge you face in hiring talent in this region?
Being a new entrant to the market, we are still identifying the best sources to find talent. While portals such as Bayt.com have helped to a large extent, we still need to bridge the gap that exists between the employer who is looking for good talent, and the talent pool looking for good jobs. We do not hire people only for their skill to do something, but are looking for the ones with a will to go over and above the conventional job description, and therefore require people who understand what we do and have developed a certain level of aspiration towards Zomato.
5. Can you describe the work culture at Zomato?
Zomato is a startup filled with enthusiastic, young and eager individuals. We believe in being quick on our feet, harboring grand visions of our community of food lovers and working with the best and brightest minds.
Like one of my colleagues said “Zomato is family!” At Zomato, the key concept that we all operate by is ownership. Zomato is more than just work and we are constantly trying to add value to what we do. We operate well outside traditional role boundaries and definitions. We all contribute across functions and that’s what keeps our teams close-knit and efficient. Every member of the Zomato family is a brand ambassador. Every sales interaction sends a message about what we are to the industry. Every phone call made to collect data creates an impression that defines Zomato to the restaurateur. Therefore, it is vital that we give everything we have and a little more to our work, but at the same time, being a very young organization, we have lots of fun on the way as well.
6. Any advice you can offer for young professionals looking to start their career in the e-commerce industry in this region?
The e-commerce industry is still largely at a nascent stage. Anyone looking to start their careers in this industry needs to understand that fact and also the corollary that there is immense potential for growth in the sector. Otherwise, all the advice that would be applicable for any other industry applies to Internet-based and e-commerce companies as well.
7. What do you read to keep abreast of industry developments?
I believe that our greatest source of market information is the market itself. Every meeting we have is a treasure-trove of information and insights. I also attend a lot of meetups and industry events; they are a great source of information and an excellent opportunity to network.
I normally read the news on my phone while I commute from one place to another. I also find that sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, TechGig, TheNextWeb and The Huffington Post have some interesting articles. However, there is no substitute to actually getting out there and talking to people from the industry.
8. Anything else you’d like to share with the community of Bayt.com employers?
As a global organization (Zomato has presence in 6 countries with offices in 14 cities), we have always focused on the overall development of our employees. At Zomato we believe that our employees are never too young to handle great responsibilities. We believe in empowering our people by encouraging high levels of ownership and inculcating a “never say die” attitude. We have managed to accomplish numerous feats with a small team of 200 employees, with the average age being 23 years of age.
I would like to encourage more employers to invest in fresher and younger talent. To look beyond traditional norms of hiring and bring on board more people with a passion for their organization and a desire to learn.