Viasat India reunites with a cricket match

Annual event in Chennai suspended during pandemic returns


In Viasat offices around the world, employees are slowly reconnecting. Through happy hours, volunteer events, and in-person meetings, employees who haven’t been together after two years of working from home are enjoying each other’s company once again.

At our Chennai, India offices, Viasat put a cultural spin on bringing people together — through a friendly game of cricket. Once an annual tradition, the Viasat Premiere League (VPL) cricket match was suspended during the pandemic.

Cricket is by far the most popular sport in India and is played almost everywhere in the country.

“Cricket is one game that brings the whole of the country together, including people from different walks of life and different parts of the country,” said Vinod Sivadas, head of People & Culture (P&C) for India. “Irrespective of gender or geography, we all come together.”

That unifying quality made it the perfect sport to kick off a return-to-office at Chennai’s two Viasat sites.

“There was definitely great excitement when we had it the first year,” Sivadas said. “People were looking forward to another match, and that is when COVID struck.”

Those hopes were on point. A total of 250 work in the two offices, and about one-third of them turned out for the April 23 match, held on a brilliantly sunny Saturday.

For many, the cricket match was the first time they’d met any of their coworkers. Viasat India hired 114 people during the pandemic, and all were onboarded remotely.

“After two years, we got to see the faces behind the names and the voices,” Sivadas said. “That was a great feeling.”

The four teams played five matches, starting with breakfast and wrapping up in the evening. In the end, the Viasat Super Kings, named after the Chennai Super Kings — current defending champions in the Indian Premiere League — took top honors.

While the players took it seriously, they also saw it as an opportunity to work together as a team.

“There is no better alternative than a sports event for collaboration and team bonding,” said Silambarasan Sundararaj, who helped organized this year’s match. “VPL gave all the opportunities for every employee in Viasat India to meet, talk, and have fun after a long time apart.”

While the weather was hot, Sivadas said employees supported one another through it.

“It was great to see players taking water bottles, running to their team members so they didn’t get dehydrated,” he said. “It brought people together, and helped break the monotony of working from home. It was a great opportunity to experience the camaraderie they’d been missing for a while.”

Players shared in that exuberance.

“VPL ’22 was a great success and full of excitement,” said intern Prakhar Bhasin.

“Viasat Premier League is more than just a tournament where colleagues bond over the cricket match,” said software engineer Nandni Jain. “It was a great way to socialize and get to know more about the people I work with. The matches were competitive yet friendly and cheerful. It was a great feeling to play along with my colleagues.”

Viasat India plans to continue the cricket match, perhaps even adding a trophy.

“Seeing the excitement around it, we want to make it an annual event,” he said. “We hope it becomes like the World Cup for Viasat.”