Section 1: The Characters
Lights were dim in the meeting room when AnnaSingh and Shanky moved in the conference room. Today was the big day for their session with Mr Rao, the CEO of Power Electric Corporation (PEC). Both knew that this discussion will make or break their career to climb up the ladder to become COO of the reputed organization.
AnnaSingh was a Sardar with Tamil origin, fun for many, as few have heard the Tamil, devanigiri accent from a Sardar (Sikh community of India normally speak Punjabi). AnnaSingh had climbed up the ladder with pain & labor from the lower ranks. He was a jolly man with belly few could ignore. He was known for his jokes and light behavior. Seldom, had anyone ever seen him frowning with his team or subordinates, a normal behavior within Indian corporate.
Shanky was the posh executive with IIT + IIM background, what in India is called I2. Many do feel that I2’s have less brain than a rabbit and lovingly call them Irresponsible Idiots (I2!!). Shanky was a fair youth from IIM Bangalore, fair, long, princely and high nose. Shanky had joined PEC as Sr. MT as term coined in India for Senior Management Trainee. Other MTs from ‘B & C’ Class management institute were called MT (a term one level lower than SMT, castesism is in the blood!!). Shanky was the shrewd, work snatcher, IP killer and had rose with luck and fashion.
Rao a bald man in his late 60’s was ‘love’ for the organization. His energy was the source of the exponential growth of PEC from 500M$ to 5B$ organization moving arms to the entire globe. Time had come to have a COO so that PEC can stage growth to a 10B$ enterprise and who can be better deserve than AnnaSingh and Shanky. Rao knew that both are well groomed for the role but he wanted one who is street smart and can take the organization with the same zeal as he himself all these years. The question was how to identify the right blood?
Section 2: The Challenge
The VC had just started and Rao was looking cool even late night in his office room in Singapore, Shanton Road. The high rise buildings were clearly visible in the background with glittering night lights. Like Mumbai in India, Singapore also never slept. In contrast AnnaSingh and Shanky were in their Indian headquarters in Gurgoan, the New Capital Region near Delhi. NCR was known for flamboyant executives, less work and all talk. Shanky was half asleep in the low light and AnnaSingh was as always smiling, may be to the next joke in his mind.
Rao opened the speech: “Gentleman in the history of PEC we have never failed an order in time and now I have heard from Kapil that the consignment to South Africa of 10M$ from our Calicut plant is in serious hold. Damn these engineers in Kerala they always mess up, what has been the quality doing. Do you know that there will be a penalty of 1 M$ if we fail to ship the consignment in-time… ????”
Smart Shanky raised his voice before Rao could complete
“Rao, I am not surprised!! I heard that the paints of all the washing machines are peeling off and quality has rejected one full lot. I also heard that to rework it will take more than one month and we will miss the shipment by 15 days…, we are doomed. AnnaSingh manages engineering and maybe he will be best to tell us the wonders of his Alice world… (He knew by this he had pinned the culprit and there will be no chance for AnnaSingh to stand on his foot)
AnnaSingh was still cool with his usual smile and it seemed he has not heard Shanky.
Rao: “AnnaSingh what is your understanding? You head the engineering and it is sad that we see ourselves in mess with our first order to SA” (He could not stop asking AnnaSingh the question knowing that’s what Shanky had pushed him to…)
AnnaSingh:” I take complete responsibility and I have little to say. I therefore request you to relieve me of my duties…”
Shanky smiled, he knew he had won.
Rao: “What rubbish, however in this situation I may have no choice but to suspend you … take your time off and we will call you when the inquiry is over..by the way what do you plan for you leaves?”
AnnaSingh: “A journey to the paradise of India; maybe I need to relax and think, I am tired”
(For the first time Rao can see AnnaSingh’s smile disappear and his face becoming red, he felt sorry for the genius; but who can challenge destiny)
Section 3: The Plan
Shanky was always worried with the big win AnnaSingh had accomplished in getting the first order of 10M$ from South Africa. They were both in rat race to move their sales ahead in the foreign waters. Like most IIM’s Shanky had inferiority complex to AnnaSingh who was hard core engineer at heart and knew product management back of his mind, infact he was the person who had made most of the innovations for PEC. Shanky on the other hand was more the diligent talker who never walked the talk.
Kapil was actually Kalipada Roy, but due to the funny Bengali meaning of his name he had changed it to Kapil. Kapil was burdened with a large family to support and his ailing mother with cervical cancer to look after. He desperately figured all the ways to get a promotion as that was the only savior for him. Shanky had found his sweat spot through him and it was an easy promise of promotion that had made Kapil change the constituent of Laxon Paints. The plan had paid off for Shanky as he had balled out AnnaSingh in one quick check mate situation.
Section 4: The COO
As in all corporates the rumors preceded the actual news and all came to know from their close quarters that Shanky was the man. Shanky had soon started getting a different ‘salam’ from his colleagues and even those who envied him had little choice.
Then came the big day when the Board was to announce the name of the new COO. The thunder storm rocked PEC when with a lighting the news flashed congratulating ‘AnnaSingh’ as the new CEO and promoting Rao to MD Position. There was no mention of Shanky!!!
Section 5: Behind the scenes
AnnaSingh knew after he heard from Kapil of the paint peeling that something was awfully wrong. He did not want to stress on Kapil knowing he was going through the bad patch. He had his ways of knowing the truth. He visited Kapil’s home just before the VC with Rao and offered his father personal assistance of 100K Rs. Tears rolled off Kapil who was always guilty of the misdoing. It took only some emotional words from AnnaSingh to break-in Kapil’s mind and he was angry but not annoyed learning the black truth. Anna had seen difficult days himself and he knew what that can make of a man. He therefore took all responsibility on himself. He did not want Kapil to lose his job. This was true leadership…
Before the VC, AnnaSingh went and met Rao in person and convenience him to be suspended. He knew what he planned do to save the company’s brand was unethically ethical and he can’t do this being in active roll. After suspension AnnaSingh made his tour to Calicut as planned ‘The paradise of India’. In few hours he was sitting with the Union leader, Mr Subha, and was planning a strike in the plant and a possible riot to make a case for lock out. The scene was well choreographed.
Next day rotten fish were supplied to the plant’s canteen. During lunch In minutes there was a layer of discontent among the laborer’s and then someone from blue exploded petrol bomb. One of the security guard was also seriously injured; there were ample chaos and soon the union decided for long strike and the management decided for a temporary lock-out. All consignments were delayed due to force majeure reasons…. giving the company no liability for the delays… the 1M$ penalty was rescued.
Shanky won the battle but lost the war….
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