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Nazreena's story 3 min read

People First: How CWB helped lift me up during the pandemic's lows

CWB’s Nazreena Anwar shares her personal story of what the organization’s People First culture has meant to her during these challenging times.

By: Nazreena Anwar, Analyst, Loan Origination System – Planning & Design


The pandemic no doubt has put us all to the test.


For those like me whose family lives several time zones away, there’s the added stress of not being able to connect when you want to. 


And then things took a turn for the worse last year when the COVID crisis hit India. The news updates were depressing and, overwhelmed by the death of my loved ones, I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster: an anger ‘bend’, a ‘curve’ of helplessness, and finally I was sucked into a never-ending survivor guilt ‘loop’.


My persisting insomniac condition worsened, and I became mentally depleted. I needed help.


So, I turned to my doctor and my employer – the Bank!  Yes, apart from my doctor, CWB has played a big role in helping me wade through troubled times. The Mental Health & Wellness section on the employee intranet took me to the 'Not Myself Today' website. They say talking things out is good, but writing out my emotions was equally healing. And using various tools discussed in the learning modules helped me to build out a sort of dashboard of my own mental state of being and how I could manage it.


I had also always viewed our Teal Academy learning site as a work-related training resource, but here too I found a lot of content on managing anxiety and how to stay calm. One course that spoke about having conversations involving mental health with your employer was particularly useful.


There was also an internal MS Teams community support group created specially for those impacted by the COVID crisis. We connected via a Teams meeting call, shared our stories, tears and fears.  After the call, I developed a sort of virtual bond with group members who I never knew before, and I felt I was not alone in this struggle.


Employee represented groups (ERGs) have been a great source of support, too. CWB VIDA (Visible and Invisible Disability Advocates) provided me another outlet to not only voice my concerns and fears but also filled me with courage, resilience, and much-needed optimism. I also used my experiences as a guide to help develop content as a member of working groups. This gave me a sense of purpose, put an anchor on my wandering mind, and most importantly took me out of the shell that I was slowly retreating into.


My manager and team are my biggest source of support to whom I'm always thankful. Together we worked on ways that I could continue to contribute value as well as balance my emotional and mental health needs. My colleague even helped pack contents of my work desk.  


As I draft this article, my father continues to be hospitalized away in India. Today, if I am able to provide confidently and calmly the much-needed moral support to my distraught mother and sister, it is all thanks to the support I receive from CWB.


They say we take up a job for a variety of reasons. It is fun taking up a new job or leaving one for another. The challenging part is to continue in a job with the same enthusiasm and emotional mindset you had when you first joined. At CWB, the People First pillar takes care of this 'tough' part – making sure people stay in a job feeling emotionally and mentally healthy. The right work culture makes all the difference. In the end, we are people first and employees second.