(In the series: People I saw in action and was inspired by)
This was developing into a large account bringing us a good chunk of annuity business.
It had a very unlikely beginning. The prospect wanted us to work on a 3-D image rendering algorithm to make it execute faster. Prima facie we did not have the necessary skills in-house presently. Fortuitously we knew of an academics-leaning specialist house in the neighborhood that was engaged in cutting-edge graphics algorithms, they agreed to help us in this case.
When the prospect visited us, the specialist house was brought in to present its credentials. To the credit of the prospect, it must be said he had no nervousness about running into a kind of situation where the prime contractor, on the very first assignment, was bringing in outside skills to work on highly specialized algorithms. On the contrary he went back quite impressed about the expertise he saw and he even talked about such local collaborations in other areas too should the first assignment succeed and mature into a long term relationship.
On his return the prospect formulated a small pilot project on his algorithms to try the combo we were proposing. The pilot was completed in a few weeks giving out more-than-expected gain in the speed of execution. From here it was a short step to formalizing the contract and rolling out a full-fledged dedicated offshore center.
A few months into the engagement, for certain reasons, I decided to make a change. I was joining an operation run by a small group of my friends. There was no option but to disclose it to the customer, at the same time reassuring him there are others in the organization to take over and ensure a smooth operation. A change of guard so early in the engagement was a certainly setback for the customer. The organization did all it could to promise him a no-hiccups transition. Despite all this the customer made an unusual request. He wanted me to continue providing some oversight for a little time even after I took up the new assignment.
I thought I owed it to my organization as well as the customer to provide this support. Taking due permission from my current and the new employers I continued to associate myself with the project. Meanwhile the new guys in the saddle proved quite capable quickly rising to the challenge. It wasn’t long before I signed off with no discomfort perceived by the stakeholders.
I got fully into my stride in the new assignment and all was forgotten about the offshore center and the project.
One morning, my ex-boss called me. He said he had something to tell me and could I go over to meet him?
And when I did meet him, I was not ready for what he told me.
He wanted to compensate me for the time I spent on the project after I had quit, something that was never on my mind! He dismissed all my protestations saying his organization could very well afford to pay for the services it procured. And he handed over a check for an amount that appeared more than reasonable. And not really called for, I thought.
That’s fair play if ever I’ve seen one. And these were and are times when one is hard put to get even what is rightfully due to him.
The man to do it was Assar Sambtani, a square shooter to the boot.
When I brought this up with him now, Assar was unable to recall. It was the same thing with Shashi Ullal and G R Khanna (in a following post). For them it came naturally and did not register as a stand-out event. But for their wards it had a signal import and went a long way in shaping the values they internalized in their professional lives.