Friday, 11 October 2013

A Normal Life!


      Hector Gonsalvus was an ideal student. ‘’A smart student!” they all called him. “He will go far” everyone agreed. Girls in the class behaved deferentially around him. Boys were told to be like him.

‘’I gave him the best education I could afford”, his father used to boast to his friends. Harold Gonsalvus worked in the design section of an old and prestigious textile company. Harold woke up by 6, went to office by 8, did his job earnestly and joked around with his friends and boss. If necessary, he stayed back on week days, came on weekends and completed his work. When his wife Jacinta was sick, his boss allowed him to leave early; the company even paid for a portion of her treatment. “Ours is the best company” the employees used to say. “The company will take care of us; no matter what”. The company did so and in return, it prospered. Its fame reached far and wide.

       Harold had put Hector into “Anglican residential school” long before the “Right to education bill “came into force. In Anglican, he intermingled with the best of the lot. The kith and kin of the MLAs, bureaucrats and business men.

       After matriculation, Hector opted for engineering as it was the Ít’course then. He studied engineering like the rest of his friends.i.e; he had to approach poly technique diploma holders to do his B-Tech final year project. Then in their final year, a big corporate company came and gave jobs to all of them.

     Hector enjoyed his life. He did his work, watched movies on weekends in multiplexes, went shopping in Malls, read Times of India, frequented Café Coffee day , Mac Donald’s and KFC, pronounced his opinion on poverty and rural sanitation on company public folders. He even had a girlfriend for a while. They broke up when the novelty wore off. That was when he began to hear the buzz.

Only B-Tech! Go for MBA. You can get lakhs.” His middle aged neighbour Latha Prakash would say flashing her golden teeth and diamond rings. Her son, Arun Prakash had done MBA from a reputed Indian Management institute and was currently earning lakhs. He was doing market research on expanding coco cola market on the relatively untapped rural areas. The people there still drank tender coconut water and spicy butter milk. Occasionally, as an extravagance, they indulged in ‘’Frooti’’ or ‘’Soda”. ”Uncouth! Unsophisticated! Imagine the potential if we could bring them all to the path of civilization.” Arun Prakash would get really excited about his job.

       Right and left, his friends were either doing MBA or preparing for CAT or had CAT in their bag. Determined not to be left behind, he obtained one month leave from his company citing malaria; spent his evenings figuring out how to identify 227 from a set of 4 choices in .3 seconds. And then he cracked the CAT! In big manner too. He got into one of the ‘It’ schools.

       All of a sudden, his social status went up. His Facebook friends list went up from 300 to 900 and his follower list from 0 to 62.He felt proud. After all, his cousin, who was an agricultural scientist, didn’t have a single follower in Facebook. Mothers with unwed daughters began to complement him on his complexion which, if I may say so, was a rather interesting shade of pitch-black.

       After two well-spent years, Hector received his management diploma. While Jacinta wept openly, Harold discreetly dried his eyes in the handkerchief. He was all the more overjoyed because his son was going to join his organisation. His chest expanded with pride.

       The old venerable looking manager respectfully gave way to Hector when he entered his air conditioned office room. The first thing that he noticed on joining the organisation was that none of his Times-of-India reading friends were using his company’s products. “We put our best efforts into our products; we are passionate about it. Our products are works of art. It requires aesthetic sense to appreciate it.” Harold proudly informed him when he discussed the issue at home. Being an intelligent man, Hector quickly deciphered the market implications of this fact. “We don’t need works of art. We need products that can sell like soaps. We should have higher market capitalization. We should tap into the urban youth market that has neither time nor intelligence to appreciate art. So cater to their needs. Bring down the artistic level. But give it a sleek...you know... pseudo-intellectual look. “Hector preached to a group of astounded employees. That was administrative reform act 1.

        Hector had the shock of his life when he read his company’s annual report. His company had zero rate of attrition! That simply can’t be! That’s not so in Ernst and Young, in Standard and Poor, in Goldman Sachs, In J P Morgan, In Hindustan Lever! It went against every management principle he ever learned. It was simply unacceptable. A healthy attrition rate was an indication of successful management policies.

        He quizzed his father about this. “You have been working on this company for more than 25 years now. You never wanted to change? “. “We were making the best of the products. We had creative freedom. The company treated us well. If anything happened to us, company used to take care of us.” His father said apprehensively wondering what his learned son would be up to next. Employees are complacent and take company for granted. Hector made a mental note.

       He went back, brainstormed with his MBA peers for days on end. Finally, they hit up on the ultimate solution. ”Make them contract workers! “The idea was so simple and brilliant. The strategy was sure to inspire workers to become more competitive in the globally challenging environment. Huge productivity gains were sure to happen. That also meant, they can curtail on employee benefits resulting in higher profit margins. It was a gem of an idea!

       The contract signing ceremony took place with great splendour in Taj Coromandel hotel. ‘’This shows that management is committed to employee needs and concerns.” Hector declared. In the same ceremony, he was presented with the ‘Business Man of the year ‘award .In the star studded event attended by the honourable prime minister, planning commission vice chairman and finance minister, Hector was the cynosure of all eyes. “What’s your next goal, sir?” the young reporter of a breaking news channel asked him, pressing the mike close to his mouth, all the while smiling sweetly at her audience. “To write a book.” Hector replied gravely. “I owe everything I am to my alma mater. Just like my teachers transferred their valuable knowledge to me, I intend to transfer my refined management techniques to future generations. .” He concluded humbly.

Thus began the saga of Hector Gonsalvus,the most acclaimed management guru of his times.

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