When Coimbatore-based Keerthika Jayachandran was looking for a job as a fresh B.Com graduate, she had a hard time finding a right fit. Firstly, she was not confident about her communication skills; secondly, she needed her workplace to have the facilities needed for her wheelchair – something which is missing in most organisations.

But lady luck brought her to Amazon India, in 2017. She gained training in communication and English speaking as part of the Customer Service team, and has dedicated herself to Amazon’s renowned mantra of ‘customer obsession.’ Today, three years after she joined Amazon as a customer service associate , Keerthika's (24) commitment to her job has only become stronger.
“I am happy to work here. The atmosphere and facilities are great,” she says. (Keerthika has been working from home for the past few months owing to the nation-wide lockdown.)

Determination to succeed

In a recent chat with Day One Blog, Keerthika shared her story – one of determination defeating terrible luck.

“I was nine years old when my life changed – while riding a bicycle and falling off a flyover! My spine was permanently damaged – even after three years of treatment, I could not stand up.”

She recollects that her doctors as well as her parents encouraged her to study hard, so that she can be independent. She had to sign up for home-schooling and later distance learning for B.Com, as most educational institutes are not wheelchair-friendly.

“My mother – who is a homemaker - used to take me everywhere she can, so that I wouldn't feel left out. (I have an elder brother.) Our neighbours and extended family would tell her not to bother with me, and leave me at home. But she never gave up on me,” she recollects fondly, adding that this inspired her to study hard and get a job, and support her parents. “I even learnt driving in a car modified for me so that my disability won’t confine me to my home,” she says.

'Come out of comfort zones'

While searching for a job at a workplace which offers facilities for employees who use a wheelchair, Keerthika came to know about a job opportunity at Amazon India’s Coimbatore office via Sittruli Foundation, an NGO that works for empowerment of differently-abled people. “I was worried that I can speak only in Tamil. But after training, I was able to speak fluently in English too. I have had great customer feedback, which keeps me motivated.”

Urging more women to come forward and join the workforce, Keerthika says, “We need to come out of our comfort zones. Disability does not mean that you cannot work or be independent. In fact, thanks to this job, I can also financially help my parents now.”