It was 10:30 in the night. My manager and I had just completed our individual set of meetings over the phone. We still had a few hours of work ahead of us before we could call it a night. Thankfully, the children had slept on time today, allowing me the luxury of focusing on work uninterrupted. We sat down on the living room couch to catch our breath and talk about something that had been playing on our minds for some days. The lego blocks were scattered on the carpet ahead of us and the room bore the tired look of having hosted children throughout the day. But that was obviously the last thing on our minds. Business was growing extremely well, expanding into international countries. We needed more hands on the ground. We were excited about the senior leaders joining us but sad at the same time for loosing those who were not able to continue with us.
We felt we had to make some structural changes in order to meet the growing demands of the business. We brainstormed a few ideas and finally narrowed down to bringing in regional focus to the business. We discussed the existing leaders and the regions which needed focus. Slowly a plan started forming in the mind. We quickly got in to a call with two senior most leaders – Ujwal and Rana. Ujwal lives just next door so he came in quickly and squatted down on the lego-filled carpet for the impromptu discussion. Rana listened in over the phone. As the meeting progressed, Ujwals mind raced to define the strategy and his hands subconsciously reached out to the lego blocks for concentration. We discussed the plan, double checked everyone’s acceptance to it and quickly concluded the meeting. It had all taken a quick 15 minutes and at the end of it, I was the new India CEO. Rana Pratap Singh the Middle East CEO and Ujwal Tripurari our new Latin America CEO. That was it! The mood was somber. This was a big structural change and we needed to plan the communication and execution for it. There were now even more action items to close before we could call it a night. We all returned to our desks. The lego blocks had just won a night out from their bag. They decided to happily sleep right there on the carpet.
Next morning, as the announcement went out, we started receiving notes on Congratulations. For the first few hours, I was in denial. I remarked to everyone, it’s just a new title. My role is still the same. I was doing pretty much most of it even before the title. So, in effect, nothing has changed. Slowly I realized that I had been honored with the new title because of the fact that I was already doubling into this role for some time now. Without asking for permission or waiting for approvals, I had already exceeded the boundaries of my past role and started stepping into the new role. It had meant stretching myself and sometimes being pushed around for lack of authority, but I had continued on. I could not have afforded to sit within the boundaries of my existing role. I had to keep my eyes just beyond the horizon.
I now realize that when the time came for the decision to be made, my name would have been the obvious choice. There was no need of promotion recommendations. There was no need of playing politics. My work from the last few months had already positioned me in the new role, even before the new role had been created. That night, sitting amidst the lego blocks, it was not only my life that had changed. Life of Rana, Ujwal and Pavan (my manager and my husband) had also changed. In spite of the enormity of the decision, none of us congratulated each other. None of us asked for celebrations. We all had been playing the new roles for some time already. Having a title affixed to the work, did not matter much to any of us.
I write this blog today to record my story of becoming the India CEO of KINDUZ. There is nothing exceptional about the story. It was a pure simple business decision. I hope this blog serves as a gentle reminder to me and to all those reporting to me that there is no room for favoritism, politics or boot licking in our organization. Anyone can move forward to the next big role by looking beyond the horizon. As I ready to move full time into my new role, I leave behind a void for the role that I was playing previously. If there are any takers for the role, please feel free to just step in.
P.S – This story would never be complete without thanking all those who have supported me in this journey.
I thank all my past managers for their faith in me – Jayalakshmi Chati, Balachandran Iyer, Jim Mondi, Paul Janis, Charlie Li, Murat Aksu, Govindrajan Muthukrishnan and last but not the least Pavan Kishore K Subramanya.
I thank my loving family for their love and advice in good times and bad – Pamila Roy (in the role of Matrix), Aartee Roy (Didi), Heeral, Savithri Kota (Amma), Radha Krishna Murthy Kota (Nanna) (also the financial pillar behind KINDUZ), Padmavathi (Ammama) and of course my darling husband.
Last but not the least, I thank my unreliable and fussy maids, who choose to serve me for some months at a time. Without their meager monthly contributions, I would never have reached this far.