An absolute essential for me was to have a strong and effective Tech Support Manager;I was luck to have just the right people both at HRL and Xerox. At HRL it was Gopakumar,who really flowered under my leadership and grew by leaps and bounds. He had a reputation of being a rebel and gave quite a bit of problems to his team leaders.However he took to my leadership and changed quite dramatically when I picked him to be my Tech Support Manager.Initially PSV ( PS Viswanathan ) was aghast when I said I was picking him and told me in was a bad decision and that he would not let him any where near the Corporate floor.However I insisted on my choice and Gopa took everyone by surprise. He played a great role in training and in the Plant CE Operations where he won the respect of the manufacturing team.His contributions to the day to day operations was also very high. There where a lot of similarities between Gopa and Balaji,the Tech Support Manager at Xerox.The Xerox quality training & other development training took Balaji way ahead of Gopa in their subsequent careers. Balaji is now a great quality guru and is close to being a Master Black Belt holder in Six Sigma at Xerox. Gopa ran into loads of trouble after I left HRL,ran away from the company for several months and now runs a company of his own providing franchise service support to other companies mainly BPL and also rans a retail outlet for BPL.
The other senior managers who ran the field operations included Vinod Kataria ,Senguttuvan, OT Sethumadhavan, Amrik Singh, Uttam Bardhan and PK Roychoudhry. All of them gave me tremendous support and were company loyalists.In the troubled times post my resignation and departure to Xerox all these individuals were hounded out of the company(really by a bad egg called Wing Commander Verma, of whom I will make mention later).All of them went through some difficulties but picked up alternate assignments. Amrik continues to be associated with HCL as a sales & service outsource partner for Gurgaon,Kataria went on to make a mark for himself in PCL and is now with ACER,Senguttuvan formed a third party service operation of his own with a few ex HRL colleagues them found a niche for himself with ACEL ICIM ,and Uttam is a service partner for IBM Global Service. Roychoudhry went from job to job and now is a partner with a Xerox Sales Promotion Agent.I haven’t been in touch with OTS and don’t know what became of him.All these loyal soldiers of the company had been very badly treated for no fault of theirs.Wing Co Verma who was instrumental in removing them also met with a similar fate when he was asked to leave in the most embarrassing circumstances.I understand in his tenure as head of the Office Automation Division he almost ruined the business and if rumours are right underhand dealings where rampant.There was opportunity to learn for me here which I missed as I left to join Xerox.It was much later that the lessons I should have learnt came home to me. No narrative would be complete with out an assessment of that period.
Through out my stay in HRL, I was fortunate to have wonderfully efficient secretaries.In those days when all communication was through postal service or the fixed line phones,good secretaries where a must. I had Edna D’Mello in Mumbai,Sabrina Smith in B’lore and then Gurpreet (Dolly) Kaur.Of these Edna D’Mello was extremely dedicated to her work and made up for the lack of skills by sheer application.Sabrina and Gurpreet were efficient to the core. It would be tough to pick who would make the better secretary, each in her own way was outstanding.Today when I’m back in HCL I don’t have a secretary.The times have changed and with mobile phones & laptops and connectivity there is little need for a secretary other than for the most routine of admin functions.