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There is an oft-heard quote from the Bhagawad Gita that has informed my work and leadership:

               Karmanyeva adhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana
               Ma karmaphalahetur bhurma te sangostvakarmani.


Loosely, this translates into:

You have the right only to work, at no time (do you have the right) to its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.

In practice of these words, I train my mind, and by extension, those of my team, to learn to detach myself/ourselves from the fruits of our work and focus only on doing the best we can. The outcome of the work is not our motive, only the work itself, and the only attachment we should feel is towards our work. Finally, when a client engages us, despite all the logic and discussion, they ultimately take a leap of faith. So when the client also embodies some of these values, it makes for terrific work.

The  Emirates team is one such amazing collaboration, and the values they embody complement our beliefs to high degree. Here are three of them:

Faith and Trust

Nothing good gets off the ground without an abundance of faith and trust. We were commissioned by Emirates in 2012 for their flagship Nariman Point office, and from the word go, the client left us to do our job. Naturally, they were involved in the decisions we needed them to weigh in on – such as evaluating and signing off on key proposals, design and budget – but there was none of the meddling and prying that can typify such engagements.

Our commission required us to revamp their front and back offices while normal functioning continued, which is  a tough task at any time. The Emirates team trusted our advice to break the job into modules that would cause them the least disruption – which they agreed to. When I mentioned ‘left us to it’ earlier, I didn’t mean they were disinterested; quite the contrary. The coordinating team at Emirates ensured that their team worked in tandem with ours throughout. When great clients participate in the process, but not too much – that’s faith and trust in action.


I’ve mentioned before that empathy is knowing ‘Why’ something needs to be done. Emirates knew very clearly why they wanted their office upgraded: it had to reflect their world-class sophistication, efficiency, and award-winning service.

But they also wanted a welcoming and comfortable workspace for their team members. Emirates has been the rare customer-facing company, where the back-office specifications were given as much – if not more –  importance than the front-office detailing. The warmth and feel of the office was a big component of their brief to us.

Great clients understand that everyone owns the experience of interacting with them, be it the internal team, vendor partners or customers, so they actively manage the ‘Why’ of all their interactions.


I coach my team to bring positivity to everything we do, and when we work with a positively-charged client, the working relationship, design and execution process, are all positively amplified. Such clients know that ‘The Best’ is a constantly moving target, and therefore push all their partners to deliver outstanding outputs.   

Positivity is also a two way street in client-vendor partnerships. Just as our team needs to understand a client’s workflows and processes, the best clients are mindful of our processes as well, and engage with us in a collaborative way to work around contingencies when they arise.

For me, the best proof of positivity comes after a commission has been completed, when the client becomes an advocate for my team and my company. Amplifying appreciation is a sure-shot sign of a positively-charged mindset. Good clients invariably champion your work to others, just as we love to share our stories of working with them.

Hats off to Emirates for every accolade they receive. Having interacted with them now as a client, as well as a customer, I can vouch for the fact that their world-class service and efficiency is more than skin deep.

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10 thoughts on “Engagement and the Global Workplace

  1. Rajendra Bendre

    Great post Ninad!

    We are at our joyful best in places that blow our breath away! Usually at the edge of the unkown, uncertain and the dangerous a precipice, a mountain top, down snow clad mountains while skiing, when the immensity of the landscape in front of us is incomprehensible and so on.

    Will be great when work spaces take our breath away and at the same time bring us all together to express our collective intelligence to make our work an expression of art!.

  2. Swati Balgi

    Congrats Ninad ! Nice to read expert’s views on Workspace Design. Will look forward to read more on your blog.
    Swati Balgi

  3. Praveen

    Ninad nice to read your post…Happy Ken”s session was impactful. .Let’s continue this collaboration around workplace knowledge..

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