The worst kind of boss is the one that micromanages you every minute. And I had one of those at HCL. In the earlier days, we didn’t have the electronic leash called cell phones so I would disappear for three days together. When I met him thereafter, he would fire a barrage of questions at me. “Where were you?” Then I would show him the list of clients I met in the past three days and his next question would be, “What’s the outcome?” I would then pull out the order forms. I was the kind of employee who would have an answer for all his questions and he was clearly amused by someone he didn’t have a third question for. I am sure he experienced a sense of loss of control and I can only imagine how he felt when I would disappear on him for a week.
But I continued to grow steadily during my stint in HCL. I handled product and sales management. I had worked in industry verticals. I was the country sales manager when I was handpicked by Shiv in 1994 for his team to create alternatives following the impending divorce with HP. I ended up working with him till he sold his stake in the HCL-Perot joint venture. Shiv is a wonderful coach and one of the many things I learnt from him is that as a leader you always back your team. I got a taste of it very early during my stint at HCL. One of the clients wanted a particular product. I went to my Technical Director with the request. He told me that he is not interested in the business because the product was not on the company’s product road map. I went ahead and quoted for the project. I found an alternative supplier and priced in a 20% gross margin when I made the offer to the client. I managed to secure the order. It was an order worth Rs.1.5 crore and that was something that we could not throw away at that time. Mr Raman had not approved the pricing or specification and expectedly, he was very upset. Clearly, it became a discipline issue and he complained to Shiv. Shiv called me to his room and questioned, “You know Raman is upset with you. Why did you do this?” I told him,“You hired me as business manager and my job is to find new businesses. I didn’t have time to argue with him or come to you so I did what I thought was best. I had figured out an alternative source of supply and factored in