HYDERABAD: While many hold the notion that visually impaired employees cost more and produce less, NM Swathi proved it wrong. Challenging these perceptions, she became one of the best employees at State Bank of India, Ameerpet Branch.
Working at the help desk of the branch, Swathi’s job at the bank involved answering customer queries. Infact, not many are aware that the Swathi was recently felicitated with the AOF Young Achievers Award 2013 by Amway Opportunity Foundation.
“When I started working in 2009, for the first six to seven months, it was a bumpy road for me as I hardly knew anything about the bank. Sometimes the customers used to abuse me as they were not satisfied with the solutions I provided them. I often had to face questions regarding my disability. Instead of focussing on the job they came to do at the bank, they would ask me if my disability was by birth or it happened due to some accident. Other than that they would also want to know if I get paid like other employees or am I doing voluntary service there. At times I would feel very uncomfortable,” says Swathi, but her colleagues always remained to be her strength. “They would come to help me get rid of the customer and would support me when I would breakdown,” adds the post graduate in Public and Personnel Management.
Asked why she did not fight back herself, Swathi says, “The person could turn into a potential customer. In case I spoke to them rudely, we could have lost the client.” Her efforst did pay off eventually as she picked up her work quickly becoming the most trusted person at the help desk. “The customers who visited the branch often and knew me well, would only come to me with their queries. That encouraged me,” she beams. “When I was getting transferred, my Branch Manager did not want to relieve me. Although she wanted to be a reporter, the support and the encouragement that the bank provided her made her change her plans. She has now decided to be in a banking professional. “It was by accident that I got into banking. Though I wanted to become a reporter, I just kept applying for various competitive exams. After I got through, I decided to take it up.”
Working as a trainee officer at present, her work now involves working on a computer which is not that difficult as Swathi practised using computer during her schooling. “The advancement in technology has made life easier as it has brought in lot of softwares which we can use to work without any hassles. I studied using one of the softwares which dictates the notes for me. Apart from that, my parents also helped me study.”
After working at the Ameerpet Branch for five years, she has now been transferred to Ramanathapuram branch and is working as a trainee officer there. “I am a straight forward person and I like taking challenges.”
Though being employed in the physically challenged category, Swathi is quite confident that she would have had a successful career even without the reservation. She hopes the society will accept visually impaired people as normal individuals one day.