Living it up in your own Territory
Quazi Zulquarnain Islam
So we all know our fairytales, don't we? You know the ones that began with ''once upon a time, in a land far far away…'' Well, the stuff we have here is not nearly as fantastical but it could well begin with the same introductions. Anyhow this is a story not about the fairytale but what happens after “happily ever after.''
If you haven't caught on to the symbolism yet, the fairytale that is being discussed is the ones that are most Bangladeshi students dream do your studies right, be a model boy/girl, make top grades and finally land a good job.
Therein lies the crux of our fairytale, but as aforementioned this is not about the fairytale but what happens once you realize that dream i.e, land your job. Does it really turn into the job of your dreams? Or is it more like a nightmare?
Read on to find out.
British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) is just one of the fairytale locations that students all over aspire to reach. And when they do, the job of a TO (Territory Officer) is one in very high demand. Speaking symbolically it would be the zenith of the fairytale.
Tanvir Alam Malik, posted in Faridpur, certainly considers it to be.
“Beyond everything, the life of a TO is quite a lot of fun,” he says.
A student of the management faculty of Dhaka University, Tanvir may come from a slightly different background than his peers but he took the well travelled road to BAT, participating in the Battle of Minds (BoM). He admits though, that there are some adjustments to be made, although he looks at them from a positive angle.
“The greatest change is in your social life. You are on your own with no family to support you. That can take some getting used to,” he admits.
But if that's a downside, the “thrill of being on your own covers quite admirably for it.”
About the job in question, Tanvir is the first to say that there cannot exist a more interesting job anywhere.
“There is absolutely no monotony. If I had been working in a job, it would have been the same thing day in day out. That's something you don't run the risk of as a TO. Everyday presents a new challenge.”
“It's a huge responsibility leading a field force comprising salesmen some of whom have even fifteen years of experience in this trade.” And then there is running up miles in the odometer. “I clocked nearly 3,000 kms last month. There is a lot of travelling involved.” Not a problem if you love to hit the road or when you have your own car gas provided. But the favourite part of Tanvir's job is the people management a challenge he is confident no other job provides. “People in your team come to you with various problems, ranging from the domestic to the disastrous. You need to have a very humane touch to do this job.”
Sarajit Baral, a graduate of NSU, took a more beaten path to BAT, participating in the Battle of Minds (BoM) before joining as a TO. Currently posted in the north-east at Moulovibazar in Sylhet, Sarajit speaks of the 'early morning hours' as the one detrimental factor of his job. But besides that he says that it is all part of a learning experience which makes him a well-rounded individual.
“After recovering from the initial culture shock of living alone, you realize that doing everything on your own teaches you values that no other job will ever be able to instil.”
“It leads to inherent personal benefits.”
“This job has also made me a good leader, taking charge of a large force and dealing with a diversified group of people teaches me skills that are invaluable.”
Anahita Ahmed, from IBA and currently TO'ing in Chittagong is one of only two females engaged in this job.
But as she says straight up, “it's not a fact that needs to be highlighted.”
She adds: “The TO's image often portrays one of an officious sales manager, occupied with sales record & quota. BATB's TO's are however, expected to be different: they need to be businessmen, with the tact of a diplomat; have Herculean energy & the tongue of a debater; be crafty as a fox & as charming as a playboy!”
Drabir Alam, a TO for two years and also an IBA graduate says that although there are downsides to living on your own and having to move around a great deal the upsides are invaluable.
“BATB constantly encourages us to innovate and develop new plans. Its one of the five dimensions we are preached.”
“Personally I'm not a fan of desk jobs and so this suits me fine, and plus the amount of leeway we are given to innovate and build our own ideas is unparalleled anywhere else.”
Safwan Ahsan, an NSU graduate and currently TO of Rangpur agrees and goes on to make light of the fact that he has to live outside Dhaka.
“I have been staying out of a metropolitan city (that's what I hear Dhaka is called these days!) for about 10 months now. Never for once have I felt the need to go back for entertainment needs.”
“Living it up in the frontier is what it's all about,” he adds confidently stating that this is one of the few jobs where “you are moulded into a mature entrepreneur within an informal environment.” For the aforementioned five BATB really has turned into a dream job. For the TO's the fairytale continues. Happily ever after is a constant state of being!