Post IIMB was a consolidation phase in ETTDC ( Electronics Trade & Technology Development Corp.)a public sector company that wanted to be different , had several people from IIMC ,& B and a good mix of young talent and experience.The Chairman RM Nair wanted to make this a very dfferent PSU.For as long as Prof MGK Menon was Secretary of The Department of Electronics and RM Nair was the Chairman , ETTDC was a truely independent corporation , well intentioned and trying to achieve break throughs for the country in the field of electronics .In the period post Prof Menon , the degree of influence of the Department on the Corporation grew rapidly and post RM Nair the company slid down hill untill it finally wound up as a sick corporation ??!!
This should have been a time for consolidation and a great launch pad for bigger things to come. Quiet consolidation it surely was but the time of 8 odd years I spent here wasnt the best of launch pads professionally. I did grow as an individual but in retrospect this was mostly time lost.On arrival I had a few shocks awaiting me as I was assigned to the material management function , with the prime responsibility of clearing goods from Customs ???!!! It was almost as if all the good achieved at IIMB was reduced to nothing.For some time I harboured thoughts of quiting quickly but then I hung on and decided to take it as it comes for a while.My immediate boss was TM Subramanian, a self made man who started off as an office boy,ran away from home grew up in a really hard knocks school, did most of his education all the way up to MA and Law through evening classes & distance learning, and built a career for himself .He was a trusted right hand man for RM Nair and a source of advise on almost all aspects of the business.Being well looked upon by him meant you could go far in ETTDC.I think he saw some good in me , must have been honesty , sincerity, the desire to do well and the willingness to listen;and at the first opportunity recommended me for a position in Hyderabad under KNR Shastry , another old timer and close confident of RM Nair.As I was well accepted by these gentlemen I was soon in the inner circle of RM Nair.
I was in time to serve as the Exective Assistant with RM Nair as the Assistent Manager (Planning).This was a job most people told me would mean I could never leave ETTDC as I wouldnt be touched with a barge pole by any other right thinking organisation.As it turned out I was one of the first to leave and break out into much more dynamic and successful organisations and make a mark for myself.What ever may have been the fears of others this stint turned out to be a remarkable learning phase comparable in very good measure to the learning phase in IIMB. It was learning in the arena of real life and probably the period when I grew to understand how organisations really worked and the thought process and compulsions that went into decision making behind the scene.I was present practically all the time with the Chairman as meeting of senior managers took place and also when his inner circle discussed and decided on the right course of action to take under various circumstances.I had very little to do , just to listen and learn and soak it all in.
In course of time , post the departure of Prof MGK Menon ,political foes would attack RM Nair for his unbending and uncompromising attitude and he,true to himself would battle it out all the way to court untill he was finally dismissed from service. So too TM Subramanian , seen to be his adviser.I would have also been under a cloud but would have escaped the axe only because I was seen to be an innocent bystander who did not in any way cause harm to any one.
So what where the positives if any that I picked up from ETTDC??The learning phase as an Ex Assistant to the Chairman would certainly stand out.There where also several assignments and opportunities to perform that came my way and as I worked with sincerity of purpose and the desire to succeed , performed to the satisfaction of my immediate managers. Some thing that I have cherished is the successful conduct of the Medical Electronics Seminar under the Asian Electronics Union banner.This seminar had all the leading lights from this field in India including several eminent doctors,and a large panel from other Asian countries particularly Japan.The entire event was a great success and even the Japanese had a word of praise for the effecient way in which the entire event and arrangements had been conducted. The small team headed by me included humble resources such as RM Singhal and a young lady from the library. Humble teams often come up with remarkable results.
Another well conducted assignment was a Consultancy Project carried out by HN Agarwal and myself in Kenya for Studying the Electronics Industry in that country and recommending strategic actions to develope and grow that industry.The learning value and experience was immense beside the terrific sight seeking and wild like safaries .We where in Kenya and neighbouring countries for a period of one month and had ample opportunity to experience the country besided our humble efforts at understanding the state of development of the electronics industry and what opportunities lay ahead for them.
I cant not but mention the great experiences we had at the Kilimanjaro Game sanctuary considered one of the best in the world .It was at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro,where you see the rare sight of snow clad peaks in a tropical land , and was an extension of the Serengati plains which rans across the border with Tanzania.We saw the most amazing sights which included a pride of lions , a lioness in search for her cubs and a pair of lions hunting for prey. We saw large herds of elephants , the usual wild beasts and zebras and several stately giraffes , the tallest I have ever seen.It was the most un forgetable experience of my life.We learnt quite a bit about Kenya , Nairobi in particular ,and I still cherish a book I bought about the masai’s.Besides Kenya we travelled to Salisbury in Rhodesia, now Harare in Zimbabwe.This was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited and a historic time as the white regime was just on the verge of relinquishing power to the coloured people who really owned the land.I had my passport , travel documents ,all my travellers cheques stolen from the hotel I stayed in ??!!!! The white owners helped me recover most of it baring the travellers cheques with the help of private detectives.(They had no faith in the police , now black who where expected to side with the gang that was running a stollen travellers cheque racket through the hotel).I did get the cheques re issued by American Express and was none the worse for the experience finally.We also made a brief visit to Lagos and finally returned via Khartoom .Khartoom was also an unforgettable experience straight out of the Arabian Nights. I have vivid memmories of narrow lanes with the smell of burning essence and beautiful ladies with veilled faces and tall stately men.It was the Arabian Nights all the way.We had a terrible time getting back as our flight was cancelled we had to wait endlessly at the airport , some of that time outside the airport with a sand storm brewing ,and nothing to eat or drink other than a bottle of wine we picked up from the airport .We got back in reasonable shape tired but full of outstanding memories.
From a sheer experience perspective I had the opportunity to serve as the Presiding Officer in two cases involving active union members.There was then a major battle on between the employees union sponsored by some of the Directors of the company against RM Nair and the Management .These cases where eventually to lead to disciplinary action against these office bearers of the union and where as can be imagined extremely sensitive and conducted in the most legalistic way .Both sides , the Union and the Management consulted legal advisors at every step .The experience it gave me can well be imagined.Both the cases dragged on due to legal wrangling and finally got schelved as the punitive actions where being taken against RM Nair and he was being stripped of his powers as Chairman off the Board of Directors.The out come of any serious disciplinary action against these office bearers of the union can well be imagined had it in deed happened.
From an achievement perspective I was assigned the task of rebuilding the stock and sale programme of imported test & measuring instruments after RM Nair’s departure, which I believe was an outstanding success and the opportunity for me to leave ETTDC on a high.I took up a business line that was languishing and when I left ETTDC had made it a triving business .Much credit for this must be given to a very good friend and then Manager Mylar Rao.In the dark days just post RM Nair’s departure I had no work to do and also had had my seat taken away and hence had neither table nor chair to work from .I was luck to be assigned to Mylar , maybehe sugested to the new powers that be that I could be attached to him , and he in turn gave me a free hand and a supporting arm .I buried my self in the new assignment unmindful of any developments taking place around me.We had a gold mine in our hands as we where given licences to stock and sell imported electronics instruments which could be sold to R& D establishments , educational institutions, qualifying Export houses etc .It was in an era of licencing where imports where severly restricted.It was truely a gold mine. When I took over the licence was about to expire and we had stocks lying in the warehouse for months together .Due to sheer neglect orders on hand lay unfulfilled and advance cheques lay un banked .I took the mess of papers , sorted and segregated them , quickly had the cheques banked and with the help of any free secretary got letters typed to the customers.The then secretary to the Finance Director , R Naryanan helped a great deal but so did many other secretaries across the company .Many just said they did not feel like saying no to me and helped as much as trhey could .Soon the mess was cleared and goods despatched .We got suppliers to help us with extended warranties and we where back on the rails .With Mylar’s hel pwe got the licence extended and commenced fresh rounds of importing .In thase days we used the most primative of tools and these included Bradma addressing machines and cyclostyling machines to prepare letters to potential customers informing them of the freah arrivals .Our efforts paid off and we began to sell all stocks before thier arrival in our wahehouses.Simple advertisements in the newspapers announcing the WORLD’S BEST Electronics Equipement available against rupee payment increased the sales funnel and soon we where in a situation where our sales targets could be placed on the value of licences received.I was back on a high and then determined to leave ETTDC and join a truely hard driving sales & marketing company in the Private sector.With a struggle , based on cold determination, Idid get into HCL ,the reprographics arm of the company then called HRL and a new and rewarding phase of my career would begin.I left ETTDC as I said on a high .