Before embarking on softer aspects of life, i would narrate some experiences first and the learning from them.
I am privileged to have served a Public Sector Undertaking for most part of my life. I enjoyed working for the PSU since i was in the service of the nation and not any nincompoop entrepreneur serving his own selfish ends. I was also privileged to have some friends who worked with me for entire period and were extremely intelligent. One of them a product of premier management school in India, had that inherent knack of also being a great motivator. He could make Aurangzeb sing to his tune.
But that does not mean I should start with a vote of thanks to this friend. I am otherwise also a very poor public speaker when it comes to proposing a vote of thanks. This friend of mine had personal experience of a vote of thanks speech he asked me to deliver at one long service award function. It ended in two sentences. Thanking the awardees, their spouses and the Directors, I mentioned all others were performing their normal duties and need not be thanked.
I have selective memory syndrome. This has nothing to do with my age. I have always been like that. I either remember most enjoyable moments or such instances which I should have forgotten and gone forward. The later set I remember for the learning they provided.
Whatever be my state, I have memories of few instances. For maintaining dignity of all those who came in my professional life while at that PSU, I shall not name any, making sure I am not judgmental, nor personal. I shall share first these instances and then help you agree with me in describing Culture which defined the PSU.
- Cross functional movement: I am an engineer not by design, but an engineer all the same. At least I was recruited by the PSU as one. What I am going to narrate here is a set of facts coupled with an arm chair analysis of what happened. And therefore any error in conclusion is mine and without meaning any offence to all my elders. Late 70s at the end of commissioning of integrated first set of plants, possibly, it came to light that number of engineers in some discipline was a bit too much for operation. And since second burst of expansion was a bit too far, these engineers had to be gain fully utilized while providing them general managerial exposure. Seniors in Engineering were concerned more about the pace of growth (!) this group would have experienced in relative terms. The same Seniors were otherwise considered as tough characters. And we had experience of such performance demand. Many of us were terrified to be in close proximity of some of these seniors. Tough without and soft within. They were “Coconuts” personified.
Some of us, including yours most sincerely, were tipped and even elevated and transferred to non-engineering functions. It was then taken as norm that in such promotion and transfer cases, individuals need not bother about transfer part and continue to enjoy the comfort and care of parent discipline. This was a common phenomenon. The Seniors demonstrated these qualities consistently and uniformly across teams. CEO then, was absolutely clear in terms of his decision and insisted that transfers also should be given effect. My seniors got closeted with me and at length explained why such cross functional transfer will benefit me. They however stopped short of telling that “you are otherwise no-good as an engineer”. I, on the hind sight, feel they were correct, and I benefited tremendously by that cross functional movement. I have remained indebted to these seniors of mine eternally. This move helped me look at jobs in a rounded way and objectively, and made a better manager of me.