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Executive makeover, the buzzword!
Abhilasha Ojha
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June 04, 2005

It's called a makeover and it seems to be the flavour of the season. While Indian television's favourite scripts have been taking enough twists and turns to give various characters a complete change of look, in the real world too it seems the concept is clicking.

Elite Model Management, an institution for aspiring models that started its operations nearly two years ago, has recently started a new course on corporate grooming.

While the institution has always been known as a modelling agency that prepares models before sending them out to face the arc lights, this time the focus has clearly diverted to encourage corporate grooming culture.

What made a modelling agency shift its focus to corporate grooming? Pankhuri Singh, head, Elite School clarifies, "We have not shifted our focus at all. In fact, our modules have never been specifically for just aspiring models."

In her view, "programmes like personality grooming and image enhancement attracted a lot of young students and other individuals too who didn't want to be professional models."

The corporate grooming course at Elite started nearly three months back, when "a lot of inquiries," according to Singh, "started pouring in from organisations and MNCs who wanted experts from our institution to give some of their employees personality makeovers."

But what does such a makeover comprise? Does it entail merely a change of wardrobe and a change in looks via cosmetics and hair colour treatments?

"Far from that," scoffs Sushma Puri, CEO, Elite. "It's a daunting task, a huge responsibility on our shoulders since the corporates we train carry not just their company's brand but also our name forward."

She feels relieved that makeovers are not merely relegated to models or those who are constantly facing the arc lights. "It has filtered down to people who want a better personality, ooze confidence and feel good about themselves," adds Puri.

The corporate grooming programme at Elite is simple and fairly manageable in terms of duration too. Most of the classes take place during the weekends and vary anywhere between three to five days.

"There's no specific cost involved as most of the modules are tailor-made, depending upon what an organisation wants," explains Singh. However, she confirms that companies can easily spend anywhere between Rs 50,000 to a whopping Rs 400,000 for corporate grooming.

Besides equipping them with tools like teaching them right makeup techniques, wardrobe planning and communication skills via theatrics and other verbal skills, a corporate grooming course trains employees to enhance their overall personalities.

"It was a great feeling to have experts take charge of our grooming," says Janaki Venkat Raman, of the human resources department at IQS, a financial information providing company.

"Some of our employees, despite being excellent at their work, lacked communication skills and needed sessions in corporate dressing," says Raman.

Around 20 employees of the organisation were selected to undergo grooming sessions in communication skills, dining and personal etiquette, besides undergoing sessions in corporate dressing. "It was great fun and even we were amazed at the results," she says.

Interestingly, a lot of companies are encouraging their junior management and middle management level employees to undertake grooming sessions.

Experts who impart all the training to clients pay attention to tiny details. While senior management employees are taken to malls and well-known designer outlets and boutiques for shopping sessions, the junior management employees are taken to affordable shopping places "to help them pick up the cuts and styles of clothes that would suit them not just at work, but even at home," as Singh explains.

Besides IQS, Elite has also taken sessions with the front office staff at Claridges Hotel and the ground staff of Sahara Airlines.

"Companies are already booking dates with us," confirms Singh who admits "a well-known travel agency and a consulting firm will bring their employees for corporate grooming sessions shortly."

Is it a growing phenomenon or will it be short-lived? Raman thinks it is critical for employees to not just look their best but also project the right image of a company.

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