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The Inimitable Ranjan

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by sln, Jan 20, 2020.

  1. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Manaivi amaivadhentral iraivan kodutha varam[getting a good wife - Gods gift]

    Boss amaivadhendral vetrikku kidaitha uram[getting good boss - manure for success]


    THE INIMITABLE RANJAN


    The year 1972.I was working as Regional Manager in a well known company with Hubli as Head quarters and covering 60% of Karnataka.There was tension and anxiety in the air as Ranjan had just taken over as VP Marketing from the affable American boss who left for USA after his term. Ranjans reputation as a man with a fertile brain,indefatigable industry and no nonsense approach had preceded his arrival.I gathered from enquiry that he was a post graduate engineer from Cambridge,an impeccable pedigree and interest in various fields including Archeology.He was joining us after two decades of grooming in different positions in an MNC both in England as well as India.He was a divorcee.

    After a month he announced his travel plan to my area.I made a dress rehearsal of my presentation and field trip. First impression is the best impression and you don’t get a second chance was always my guiding principle. I visited Hampi and made a thorough study as our itinerary included Hospet.On his arrival, our arrangements as well as my presentation went off very well.We started our travel,reached Hospet and checked into the Tungabadra dam guest house.Unable to hide my newly acquired knowledge of Hampi I invited him to visit Hampi the next day,throwing casual hints about the Krishnadevaraya empire.He said let me refresh and come,we will have a chat on Hampi over drinks.Comfortably seated, overlooking the waves he asked me “have you read a book called the forgotten empire”I pleaded ignorance.For the next ninety minutes he extolled the beauty and prosperity of Vijayanagar empire as detailed by Italian visitors and their reports safely kept in the British Museum.These were discovered by a British gentleman and brought out in the form of a book.I felt totally inadequate with his deep knowledge and cursed myself for venturing a discussion on the subject.

    He was short tempered and could not take pretense while at the same time went all out for skill and job enrichment for those identified as weaklings.His philosophy-weaklings have become part of the family and therefore need help to come up. He was a chain smoker and used to bite his nails till nothing was left.

    One night I had a call from Davanagere that my officer there had gone beserk and started walking about the street in his innerwear and smashing glass windows in show rooms.I immediately rushed my deputy to trace him and bring him to Hubli.Simultaneously I informed Ranjan.His first question was whether I was harsh with the officer.I said no and in fact recognised him as one of the promising employees..After an hour Ranjan called me and gave me a set of instructions,”Take him to ---hospital and meet the neurologist and psychiatrist whom I have already contacted.Coordinate with Bangalore office who will pay all the hospital expenses.After treatment leave him at his house.Please reassure him that his absence till he recovers will be treated as paid leave.Instructions were crystal clear[that was his style] Later on we found out that the problem of the employee was related to his parents.He recovered but resigned to look after his farm.

    On a trip to Shimoga he scolded my officer in the presence of customer and some rank outsiders.The officer was shaken and was almost on the verge of tears.I kept quiet and that night I decided to quit in protest against flouting all cannons of man management.I had the full support of my wife on this decision.Next morning before leaving for HQ he gave me a set of instructions in his inimitable style and wished to know whether I had anything to discuss.That is all.I retorted that his handling of my assistant was distasteful and he had breached the protocol by the intemperate language which should have been directed at me and not my assistant. I told him the difference between berating and humiliation.There was a brief silence.Ranjan turned to me and said” sorry-I apologise for my irrational behaviour”.Please also convey my regrets to the officer. This was a totally unexpected response and Instead of quitting I looked at Ranjan with unabashed admiration.

    On a trip to rural Bijapur district I briefed him about a customer and told Ranjan that he had nine children.He was aghast.Inspite of a hectic schedule, he spent half an hour with the customer and convinced him to undergo vasectomy.I was given the responsibility of following it up and getting it done.I sent him the compliance report after three days and forgot about it.I was therefore surprised by a remark in my appraisal”exceptional performance beyond his role”

    On a difference of opinion with the MD he quit his job and was serving the notice period.By that time I was posted at Hyderabad. He visited Hyderabad to attend an official function.That evening I told him that I was concerned about his health and I would take him the next day to the Maharishi Institute of Transcedental meditation.As usual he said “let me refresh-we will discuss the subject over a drink”.In the cozy environment of Ritz hotel we sat near the swimming pool.”Have you read a book called sleep without pills? Oh not again I thought.He lucidly explained about Maharishi,what transcendental meditation does,how it is taught as a subject in some universities in US and that it was tried on American soldiers in Vietnam etc.I was transported into a different world and would have prostrated before him but for lack of privacy.In the interest of brevity I am excluding a number of incidents to confirm that he was an intellectual,commanded respect and trust as a man of impeccable integrity and a compassionate boss.

    He shifted to Bombay as CEO of a well known company.I met him after three months when I visited Bombay and it was refreshing to meet an extraordinary intellectual.After a month I was shocked to learn that he had passed away in his sleep.He was in his mid fifties.

    All these and much more flashed before my eyes when I took over as VP Marketing in 1991 to remind me of my responsibility in my new role. There is a song in Tamil”manaivi amaivadhendral iraivan kodutha varam- I have added Boss amaivadhellam Vetriku kidaitha varam-Don’t you agree?
     
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  2. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    kopam ulla idaththil thaan gunamum irukkum.
    I have seen many such persons with similar traits.it resembles two sides of the same coin.
    jayasala 42
     
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  3. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    As I mentioned he would tear off phonies into pieces but counsel and offer professional help to the weaklings to improve themselves.His intemperate language was a problem.There is a saying"even if you want to tell somebody-go to hell tell him in such a way that he looks forward to the journey" . SLN
     
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  4. HariLakhera

    HariLakhera Finest Post Winner

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    We had the one gentleman deputed as CEO from our US collaborator. He had no idea about Indian retail market. His belief that mass production and wholesale distribution is the key. He directed the production to produce in bulk for economy of scale and ask sales force to 'force' distributors to stock in bulk. It did not work. The company was flooded with unsold stocks and the distributors and retailers were items they actually needed. \Needless to say, he was called back but the damage was done.
     
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  5. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    What is good for a country or product need not necessarily succeed in another country.Ranjan in my case tried to follow the marketing practices in the Fertiliser industry inspite of my cautioning him.When his strategy failed he accepted his failure.What is good for an urban market need not necessarily be good for a rural market.Strategists should keep their mind like a parachute which works only when it is open.SLN
     
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  6. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear SLN Sir,

    What a narration about your working experience with an intellectual. It only shows the people are mixture of good and bad. But when they admit it, they reach new heights in the hearts of others. I have worked in a premier research organization where the boss was a king as it was a government owned R & D organization. We always address him as "Sir" or "Dr.--------". But he had close relationship with all of us and treated us well. Immediately thereafter I joined a software company when open market economy was introduced in India. This Indian CEO was educated in Liverpool and worked extensively in Canada and the US. He was recruiting me for the Indian operations of his US company.

    I was introduced to him by a common friend. He demanded a conversation over phone from the US. He called sharp at 9 p.m. and ended the call just before 10 p.m. as informed to me earlier. At the end of the call he told me he had decided to recruit me as Vice President but only after meeting him in Mumbai to be scheduled in a month. I left a second interview to Mumbai when he was visiting India. I walked into his room after traveling long distance. He met me only for 2 minutes and straight away told the Indian CEO to issue me an appointment letter after discussing it with me. When I asked him why there is no interview, he told, "I just wanted to see how you look like".

    I joined 2 months later. The very first time I met him at work, he told me, Please call me by my first name". He always used not so parliamentary language in the conversations. Initially, it was a sticker shock for me coming from the Government R & D background but slowly I got used to it.
     
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  7. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Viswa,
    From what you have narrated it was a delightful change for you.In our organisation nobody had the patience or time to call me by my full name.Even official letters were addressed to me as Laxmi.Once the official time was over it was absolutely informal.Vice chairman coming to our house or vice versa was quite common.The result-there was a sense of pride and enterprenuership as against employee status.How right Harold Genene [MANAGING]was in lamenting in his book that boxes in the organisational chart have killed the feeling of ownership
    .Regards.SLN
     
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  8. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello:Quite an expansive narrative of boss-staff universe. I enjoyed every para of this essay. Reading this, transported my mind to half dozen bosses and their mood spectrum and am sure every reader if they were or are in office atmosphere would appreciate and enjoy reading this from the master story teller of INDUSWOOD studios.
    Kudos to you sir, I bow before you and your rich varying experience of yore and caliber.
    Thanks
    Regards.
    God gleams through unction, diction & erudition.
     
  9. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Thygarajan.
    Thanks for your warm sentiments.I was no match for Ranjans Razor sharp intelligence his wave length and the broad canvas of his knowledge.I could however beat him in strategising,street fight marketing and team building.
    Fighting for more foot soldiers than Majors and Brigadiers in marketing I told him that English Navy lost the war because they had more men on the land than on the sea.Pleading for a bigger promotional budget I told him that familiarity breeds sales.He was enchanted and that is how our relationship blossomed inspite of the barriers in the organisational chart.
    After my retirement,one of my GMs came home to invite me for his daughters wedding.The lady complained that her husband was always on the move.When objected to she said that she was silenced by quoting me.The quote"For marketing people Desk is a dangerous place to watch" .I was thrilled that an employees wife quoted me.
    Regards SLN
     
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  10. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello:Dear Sln,
    I consider your reply above is icing on the cake.

    2. Thanks for further inputs that strengthen this thread.

    3. I have worked in defence and civil with senior officers of high caliber and character which truly helped mould juniors including me.

    4. Your further elaboration of Mr Ranjan flooded me with wonderful memories- lateral thinking, out of box ideas & eureka moments across my career of almost three decades. I resist to write parallels due to paucity of time and other pressing domestic matters.
    Regards.
     

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