It’s more than 30 some years since I started off on my journey through the Corporate World .I still remember steaming out of Central Station in Chennai, way back in ’72, on my way to B’lore with Oscar D’Silva, my close buddy from the Philips Service Centre days , running along side the train in a touching farewell. I was to stay as a PG with the Thomases and work at ITI B’lore .I had a wonderful time with a good bunch of friends, as we went on impromptu weekend outings; playing cricket for the ITI Officers Team & making friends with some wonderful senior managers who were cricket enthusiasts. Nothing exciting and encouraging on the professional front ,compounded by unfortunate brush ups with reporting managers; so after a year and a half I left to complete PGDM at IIM B’lore .
The two years at IIM B was one of the high points of my career. I gained enormously in confidence and in imbibing a systemic and structured way of thinking. The class of ’76 was a truly wonderful bunch of friends and professions most of whom have stayed in touch all these years .IIM B in those days had a charter to serve the Public Sector so all of us were placed through Campus Interviews only in Public Sector companies .Along with a few classmates , Srini & Yeshwant, I took up a job with ETTDC at Delhi , now ET&T . I was to leave the public sector after 8 odd years and jump into the tumultuous world of the private sector, having no love lost for the ways of this sector. Several classmates continued to serve the cause of the Public Sector with distinction and three of them Radhakrishnan, Arun Balakrishnan & Zahed made it to the pinnacle as Chairmen of ISRO , HPCL & HMT respectively.
ETTDC was a learning ground ,mainly in the ways & intrigue of the corporate world .I did make some wonderful friends who have also stayed in touch .The machinations of the governmental machinery and the governing team in ETTDC ; the decision making process that often seemed out of sync with business goals and the lack of any visibility of career progression made me leave for a much more challenging assignment in the reprographics wing of HCL , then called HRL .
HRL was what I had desired of a platform to hone both my sales and leadership skills. I enjoyed what would eventually be the first stint in HCL .I did very well in the micrography sales arena I was assigned to and as I moved as Head of Customer Support , cut my teeth as a leader of a large and complex operation. I was to move on to Modi Xerox for long stint of 13 odd years before I returned to HCL to Head the Distribution operations for an all new experience.
Xerox was again a wonderful professional experience. The two companies Xerox and HCL were different from an org culture ,leadership and org structure perspective. I managed to have reasonably successful tenures in both these diverse companies. In Modi Xerox I carry wonderful memories of three very far reaching programmes which I had the good fortune to lead and establish, with the full support of a very able team .These where the Digital Transition, the Self Managed Work Groups and the Out Sourced Agent programmes .These programmes brought great value to the organisation and more importantly changed the lives and fortunes of very many people.
When I think back over the last several decades in corporate life, what gives me the greatest satisfaction is that I have in some way or the other helped people to grow and establish them selves. Several of these friends acknowledge this contribution of mine and I feel ever so grateful that I had the opportunity to make a difference to their lives.
Now the times has come for a change .This Saturday I will reach the ripe old age (by corporate standards at least) of 62 yrs .My successor has joined and effective today I am to ease myself off P&L responsibilities across all the business lines that I had manfully shouldered all these years and adopt an advisory and mentorship role. I will continue to handle for the moment certain key business initiatives. The company desires I serve as an Executive Coach to a few upwardly mobile managers.
This is a role I instinctively like, however I am aware that the mangers assigned to me, need to see it in a positive manner and accept me .I also have worries of acceptability when shorn of administrative power. I think I have it in me to play an effective role as an Executive Coach but do need formal training and certification. I need to learn to be comfortable, away from the hustle and bustle of day to day operations and more so in the absence of the sense of accountability I always carried on my shoulders. Confidence seems to be a prerequisite of a good coach. Lack of the “success” doses that come from taking accountability and making daily gains can dent confidence , I suppose .I may need to remind myself that my strengths lie beyond the success stories of day to day operations.
The vacuum is some thing I must learn to live with gracefully. How will it be as I sit patiently waiting for colleagues to come forward for mentorship support? For how long can I give them this mentoring support? All these I guess are part and parcel of the transition I am facing. As always I am setting off on this new journey with hope and expectation and a prayer on my lips.