We bring you a feel-good story based on facts. How a new venture was started in the state of Meghalaya, a region with few job opportunities in the private sector. How a local youth was one of the first to be recruited and how his success was closely tied to the company’s – how he helped the company grow and vice versa.
Chillibreeze: A Company with a Purpose
- Looking for a job in Shillong, Meghalaya? Very likely you are looking at openings in Chillibreeze Solutions Pvt. Ltd., right?
- You are from Meghalaya working outside the state and want to return ‘home’ and find a job in a good company there? And a friend suggested you consider Chillibreeze?
The above scenarios are highly likely, as the company, and the staff of Chillibreeze, a company with a purpose, follow guiding practices that support that purpose, which brings out the company’s authenticity.
It is humbling to see that Chillibreeze has gained a reputation of being one of the very few successful companies operating from the beautiful city of Shillong and serving global customers. And it is constantly looking to recruit.
Chillibreeze is managed by a team of locals who have been groomed by the company to realize their potential and become true leaders.
2019: Chillibreeze team
Would you not like to meet one such leader - a key figure - a member of the core team that has brought the company to where it is now – a professionally run, profitable company that pays generous compensations to those who work hard?
We bring you a candid interview with Shillong born James Syngai who was one of the first to join the company rose to be the leader of Chillibreeze’s services.
The Early Days to Now: The Journey
The year was 2005. Chillibreeze was in its infancy – more as an idea than an organization. The pioneers, the early settlers, Joanna and Ralph Budelman, had followed a higher calling to start a business venture in the Northeast of India and reached Shillong the capital of Meghalaya in February 2005.
Why Northeast India?
Through their Christian study group, they had heard about the lack of opportunities for the youth of this region, despite a high level of literacy. They wanted to do something about it.
Ralph and Joanna did not come to Shillong with a full-blown blueprint for a business, with projections of sales, profit, a hiring plan, etc. It is not like they set up a hiring camp and recruited people en masse.
Ralph believed in the bootstrapping model and was a proponent of growing any business one customer at a time – serving the customers, continuously improving the systems to serve them better, addressing their pain points and, getting references to another customer, and so on.
This photo was taken during the early years of Chillibreeze, 2008. James standing in the upper row, second from the left.
Lots have changed now. Read a synopsis of Chillibreeze’s journey.
Chillibreeze no longer offers content services, having dropped it very early on. It is now a trusted design service provider to a number of business consultants and business executives of large corporations across the globe. Here is a short version of the story of Chillibreeze.
This long-drawn story was needed to build the context of the times in which James Syngai, the protagonist of this story, joined the company.
James and Chillibreeze – An Association Begins
James has a Master’s Degree in Botany from NEHU, Shillong.
He joined Chillibreeze when it was a totally green venture, in 2005. It was his first job. Thanks to hard work and willingness to learn new things and excel, James rose to lead the production team of Chillibreeze.
Behind this rise is a story of grit, and self-discovery of leadership qualities, powered by the strong values that James had imbibed from his family and nurtured by the environment that Chillibreeze provided to bring out the best in people.
Would you not like to know the interesting titbits behind James’ journey?
We bring you an interview with James on the eve of his taking early retirement from the company, with the promise that he will be available as a consultant for Chillibreeze for life! Chillibreeze, after all, was his mentor and guide – almost like a parent too. He was sporting to share his story with us.
At the end of James’ farewell celebration, we asked James to press his handprint on paper. Today this image hangs in the Chillibreeze lobby as a recognition of his years of dedicated service.
James Shares His Journey in Chillibreeze
It was generous of James to agree to do an interview and answer a number of questions, some of them a bit probing.
James Syngai was born and raised in Shillong in the 1980s and is the youngest of 5 children – three sisters and an older brother. His father worked in the Forest Department of the Government of Meghalaya and his mother is a homemaker who managed the family and the household chores with a warm heart and clinical efficiency.
From left to right: Daphi, wife of James, Ralph and Joanna Budelman
When did you join Chillibreeze?
Nov. 15, 2005. Chillibreeze was my first real job. A job with a regular paycheque that is. Up until 2003-04, I never really had to work to support the family or anything like that. Whatever odd jobs I did was purely for my own use. That being said, the very first job I did was making poster frames. That was when I was waiting for my high school results in 1996. I remember opening my first bank account with the earnings from that.
How did you come to know about Chillibreeze? Share your recollection of the events that led up to you joining Chillibreeze.
I responded to an ad in a local paper, The Shillong Times. The ad was for graphic designers, and at that time I had done some design work for a couple of churches. I remember responding to the ad on a Sunday afternoon; the ad had Ralph’s email ID.
I’m thankful to my father that even as early as the late 90s, we were fortunate enough to have a PC at home with a home Internet connection.
I then got a call from Ralph on Monday morning and he asked me to come to the office at Laitumkhrah the same afternoon. I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but it was not like any typical job interview – that much I remember. I don’t remember meeting anyone else that day, but I was asked to come in the next day and start.
(Note: These were early CB days. The hiring process is to be seen in the background of the larger vision of the promoter - to create opportunities for the local youth of Northeast India. So, Ralph went with people who showed a spark. He went with his gut feeling. Ralph did not know then that he had hired a gem, nor did James know that something wonderful lay ahead of him in Chillibreeze)
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