CHIRAG SHAH is grooming Punekars with his finishing school
The art of grooming, and developing grace and poise is difficult for a layman, but CHIRAG SHAH, with his grooming school ARRISTA SCHOOL OF FINESSE, is making it easy to achieve. Citadel gets talking to this young professional to find out more about his in
Self-improvement is the best enhancement, they say. Someone has rightly said – be the person you want t o meet. Yet, chances are, most of us are struggling with being not just presentable but also acceptable. We educate ourselves in the best possible way, but the fine-tuning of personality is left untouched. Your personality and how you appear to a person is vital to your success with him or her. And this is where Pune’s very own grooming school comes into picture – Arrista School of Finesse. Run by young Chirag Shah, they are into working with leading corporate and academic brands in training their staff and management teams with various disciplines, right from grooming, business etiquette to motivation, team-building and offsite and sales and lead management. In business for the last four years, they can be credited to having trained more than 4,500 people across various industries, with clients like Kirloskar Brothers, Ruby Hall Hospital, Forbes Marshall, Electronica Hitech, Cybage Software, Persistent Systems, Birla SunLife, BU Bhandari Mercedes Benz, BMW Bavaria Motors, DSK Benelli, FIAT India, My Car, and more. Educational institutes include Ness Wadia, MIT, Indira, FLAME, etc. Arrista even holds camps for teenagers on grooming, table manners and on other fun activities like robotics, aero-modelling and photography. In the past, they have conducted a workshop for senior inspectors at the Maharashtra Police Academy, Nasik, on Citizen First approach. In a short span, Chirag has managed to make his point through his grooming school. There is a lot more to his work than one can perceive.
Before understanding what Arrista is all about, we want to know how Chirag began his career and the path that led him to Arrista. His is an interesting background, which must be spoken of. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management (Marketing) and Golf Management Operations from Griffith University – Australia, he later did his Master’s in Business Administration – Services Marketing & Management from S.P. Jain School of Global Management, Singapore. “I was awarded the S.P. Jain Alumni Award for Professional Excellence in 2010. I worked for several years in the banking industry in India, where I held positions both in Barclays Bank PLC, where I received the ‘Beyond Limits Award’ in 2008, and DBS Bank Ltd as the City Head – Consumer Banking (Pune & Kolhapur Regions), where I won the ‘Group Chairman’s Award’ in 2009 and 2010. I am regularly invited to
speak and be a panellist at many events and functions at academic institutions and corporates. I an avid golfer and have won many club and national level tournaments.” His reason to leave his job and start up something like Arrista came from his personal experience as a banker and just looking around him. It was just a natural progression. “During my days as a banker, I saw several of my colleagues struggling with basic things such as spoken and written English, smart dressing, basic hygiene and grooming, dining etiquette and even public speaking. I realised that we as Indians are extremely good at what we do, and are willing to put in the number of hours required for any job, but I felt that somewhere we lack the ability to present ourselves in a polished manner. I realised that if this component were to be added to our personalities, it would create a dynamite combination of a dashing personality and a hardworking and sincere person. This would work to be a fabulous mantra for success! This was our impetus to start working on The Arrista Project!” Of course, you cannot start anything just on a whim. It does take an immense amount of time. Chirag reveals, “It took us to two years to work out the content, curriculum, branding and offerings and we brought on subject matter experts to guide us through each module. My mother, Manisha Gokhale Shah, had served as Dean for many known academic institutes such as Symbiosis, Sinhagad and FLAME, and her guidance and mentorship was priceless.” What the curriculum consists of is quite vital in achieving what you want. Arrista offers an interesting range; Chirag gives the details for one’s perusal. “Arrista School of Finesse initially began with three courses: 1) Polished Professional (for working professionals and students finishing their higher studies), 2) Perfect Lady (Working Women and Homemakers), and 3) Young Adult (teenagers). Over the last four years, our offerings have expanded to highly customised corporate trainings on sales effectiveness, customer centricity, business and social etiquette, emotional intelligence and many more modules. We even offer our services in organising leadership offsite and team building activities. I also, in my individual capacity, am invited as a motivational speaker at several forums. We have also created a programme dedicated to women’s empowerment and helping working women and homemakers create confidence in their personalities. Last year, we also conducted a successful summer camp for 75 children on various fun activities ranging from designing android games, photography, robotics and aero modelling.”
Passion is what keeps you going ahead. And you want to see your passion beget fruit. In case of Arrista, Chirag has seen fruitful results in his four-year-old long journey. He divulges, “The journey has been the most enriching and challenging phase of my life, and Arrista has grown from strength to strength. We have conducted more than 80 corporate trainings, spanning 27 institutional and corporate clients. More than 4,500 people have undergone our training programmes at some stage in the last four years. Our results are evident in the testimonials that our clients have routinely provided to us and we can see stark differences in our participants as well.” Their job is not easy, of course. All good things never come easily. “Given the fact that ours is a behavioural training and not a product or technical training, the change in its recipients takes time to come. The key is to conduct regular training interventions and refreshers and not just treat trainings as an event. We have a robust process for post-training evaluations to check effectiveness, which are conducted anytime between 60-80 days after the main training programme,” Chirag adds. There were struggles and hurdles that came Chirag’s way. In fact, in his words, he will continue to face
problems. “For starters, convincing people that training and changing themselves is never an easy task. Secondly, corporates are always hard pressed for time and budgets, and spending on training remains less of a priority as compared to other key business expenses. Also, getting repeat business from the same clients is a big challenge. I have noticed people will be happy to spend large sums of money on entertainment or holidays, and never bargain for discounts with restaurants or airlines, but when it comes to investing in themselves for training, they are always looking for price reductions. These are some of the practical challenges,” he confesses. This does ring true for most corporates.
NEED OF THE HOUR
Most products or services are in existence today because there is a great need for it amongst the masses. You realise it only through experience. For Chirag, during training or having workshops, the realisation must have come that a school like his is much needed. He agrees wholeheartedly, “Life skills, better known as softer-skills, are not yet taught in our education system. None of the curriculums, be it schools, colleges or universities, really have a robust platform or programme to instil certain behaviour driven values or decision-making skills. These are vital for developing well-rounded professionals and entrepreneurs in the future, and hence that’s where Arrista has an integral role to play. We are also looking to partner with the Government of India for the National Skill Development Programme.” During the training or workshops, memories are created, which become a sort of teacher for anything you do in the future. These memories stay with you till eternity. Chirag does have a few such memories that he wants to share, “I think having an opportunity to conduct a training programme for senior officers of the Maharashtra Police at the Police Academy in Nasik was a very memorable experience for me. Firstly, I had to conduct the entire training programme in Marathi, and that was another facet of our offering that we could be versatile in the language that we used to deliver the session. I also got to see first-hand what challenges our officers face in their daily jobs, and what constraints they have when it comes to basic facilities. Yet, they brave on to serve and protect us. These are extremely smart, intelligent and experienced people, and such trainings should be a regular feature in their careers.”
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
In the last four years, Chirag and Arrista have made progress together step by step. But there is more to come. Chirag does have big plans slated out. He details, “I am keen to bring more structure to our programmes and offerings. I would like to make it easier for corporates to choose our services as part of packages or plans. This would make their decision-making process easy. We are also continuously looking for new faculty who can add an extra flavour to our sessions. I hope we can see Arrista become a nationally recognized brand in India with clients in all the major cities.” Those who dream big have a mantra that they follow to the end. Chirag has one too and is willing to share it with others so that they can follow it, “I have relentlessly strived for achieving excellence in the smallest of things that we have done at Arrista. Be it our social media presence, or the way our trainers present themselves, to the handouts in each of the participants dockets, or to the quality of interactions and anecdotes used in trainings, we have paid attention to the minutest of details. This allows us to reduce our mistakes and painstakingly provide a quality service. In my opinion, to be able to do this time and again is great!” A certain level of grooming goes a long way in making the person you are better. With Chirag Shah and his Arrista School of Finesse, the trail has certainly become smoother.