“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mahatma Gandhi
Have you ever wondered what goes into engineering the learning and the spirit of the people who take responsibility for your safety at 35000 feet above sea-level?
In the quest to find out , ‘People Matters’ in collaboration with ‘IndiGo’ organized a study tour at the IndiGo learning academy ‘ifly’ in Gurgaon as part of the pre-conference of the ‘People Matters L&D League Annual Conference’. IndiGo is the largest airline in India in terms of passengers carried with a 42.6% market share as of October 2016.
The learning academy is the centre where every employee at IndiGo is trained. Pilots, cabin crew, airport staff and corporate staff. The learning academy focusses all its trainings on striving for excellence and IndiGo’s 3 basic pillars – low fares, on-time, courteous & hassle free.
As we stepped into the ‘ifly’ premises the first thing that caught our attention was the IndiGo boarding ramp. Yes, the one that makes boarding and deplaning from the airplane hassle-free especially when you have children or for wheel-chair bound passengers. The wonderful message on the ramp catches your attention “Where dreams get their wings to fly”.
We were greeted by the IndiGo team at the reception who were waiting to take us for a walk through the academy. What struck us were the details taken into account to create an atmosphere inspiring and conducive to learning. The colour combination is their trademark blue and white.
Shelves right behind the reception display IndiGo branded products which are sold on board the plane – Nut & cookie tins, IndiGo caps, and a model plane along with many others. While we wondered how the building was such an amazing reflection of the brand, one couldn’t help but notice the large model plane of an Airbus A320 suspended from the ceiling right above the reception.
What a welcome! Without even realizing it, our learning about this brand had already begun.
Keeping in tune with their ‘On-Time’ strategy, we got started with the walk through the academy without wasting a minute. As we gained insight into the various learning procedures used at their learning centre, the one thing they reiterated was how learning happens not just through training sessions but by experiencing the brand as you walk through the building.
Learning at IndiGo is more like forming habits. It includes encouraging self-leadership, internal wellness, sharing personal success stories & innovative ideas and asking lots of questions. Most modules are bite-sized (one hour to 5 days) and solution-oriented.
As we walk past the reception we are ushered into a small lounge which adjoins their specially styled mini auditorium. The seating is designed to look like oversized cookie tins and sandwiches and is a reminder of what is served on board. This is where employee graduates and their families meet for a snack after the graduation ceremony.
The contemporary auditorium which hosts all the academy’s graduation ceremonies has the most interesting industrial ceiling. It is also a room where corporate trainings and seminars are conducted. The wall in the back displays some of the many awards won by the airline, once again a reminder to always strive for excellence. The corridor outside showcases all the pilot and cabin crew batch pictures from the day IndiGo started operation until today. A reflection of the many success stories and an inspiration for the upcoming batches.
The 7-storey learning centre is a visual delight. Each floor is dedicated to a particular learning module – Aviation security, engineering and pilots have their dedicated floors. The passages have runway murals and the walls on each of the floors are adorned with different IndiGo motifs including photographs of their magazines, company branding and write-ups by employees.
Even though the academy is equipped with elevators the usage of stairs is encouraged. The idea is to remind employees to stay fit. “Not only is it healthy, but it also keeps you on your toes, one of the pre-requisites of the profession” is what we were told. The stairwell is lit with a central blue light and each wall has a motivating message by IndiGo’s leadership team including their president & CEO Mr Aditya Ghosh.
The learning centre is designed keeping in mind the various needs of the employees and new recruits. Separate teams look after Functional skills, Grooming & Poise, Communication, Customer service behaviour, and Leadership development. The Learning team are called ‘Dream Catchers’.
Abinitio training is conducted for pilot and cabin crew batches. Pilots undergo specific days of training as per their qualifications and cabin crew undergo a training program for 99 days. Until October 2016, 313 cabin crew batches and 71 initial pilot batches have graduated successfully.
From cleaning washrooms to service on board the plane, every part is simulated for cabin crew. The 5th floor has an aircraft mock up cabin that looks exactly like the interior of an airplane with food trolleys, seats, passenger call buttons and also a cockpit door for a complete hands on training experience.
Our walk through experience an IndiGo’s learning academy was one-of-a-kind, a perfect example of how employees imbibe a culture as they experience it and live it.
(This article has been written from the experience of the Study Tour conducted by IndiGo in partnership with People Matters as part of the L&D League Annual Conference 2016.)