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Jan 21 2013, 11:53 IST
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SummaryThe retail sector accounts for 14 per cent of jobs in India. For many young people, the search for work that pays well and treats them with dignity ends here. Five salespersons, at malls and departmental stores, on the highs and lows of their work, and how it has helped them climb the social ladder.

‘WHEN I CAN CONVINCE A CUSTOMER, IT FEELS GOOD’

RUPESH JADHAV I 27

MUMBAI

RUPESH ATMARAM Jadhav works at the Adidas showroom in Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai. He is thankful for his job that arrived at a time when his computer science diploma course wasn’t fetching him a decent income. “I was only getting jobs that offered not more than Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000. I had hoped my diploma would help me get at least Rs 10,000,” he says with the determined tone of being cheated.

Growing up in Virar and Kandivali, Jadhav attended government schools. He believed engineering was the best option to get a job, but wasn’t interested in academics.

He took up science in Class XII because of family pressure, but failed his exams and finally opted for arts through an open university.

His father, a peon at the Central Bank of India, had died, and his eldest brother replaced him at the job. Jadhav started work at a xerox shop in Vasai, earning Rs 1,500 a month. Many jobs and a failed lottery business made him realise he’d need a diploma to enter the job market. Mushrooming malls in the city was a cue to plunge into retail.

When Jadhav started, four years ago, he got a salary of Rs 5,000. He has worked his way up to earn Rs 20,000- Rs 25,000 a month.

Peak sale seasons commissions come close to Rs 37,000. His salary depends on his performances, and is not always a fixed monthly sum.

For someone with below-average academic merit, he believes there is no better place than sales in the retail industry. “I have tried different options, but nothing could undo my academic failings. This is the best I could have got,” he says.

For Jadhav, this meant honing his communication skills, even if his English isn’t perfect. An orientation with Adidas has equipped him with product and technical know-how, essential to make a pitch, making him part of a group of specially trained salespeople called Aditechi. This methodical approach makes him feel like a professional, and not “just” a salesman. “Many of our products require technical explanations. When I can convince a customer to buy a product, it feels very good,” he says.

He married his girlfriend last month and is proud that he could contribute Rs 2.5 lakh to the wedding expenses. But the uncertainty of the retail industry, and the fear of it reaching saturation, has

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