My grandmother taught me to read and instilled in me values, as all grandmas do. I remember her telling me the story of Androcles where this young man was in a cave and he saw a lion in a cave, roaring in pain and recognized it needed help and removed a thorn from its paw. Later, the same lion saved him when he was being thrown to the lions in the arena, as throwing people to the lions was a popular sport then. This story stayed with me for a long time.
Fast forward in time, about 1997, I was recruiting at a campus in Calcutta and made job offers to a few students. About two months later, one of the candidates – and I will call him Sai, an outstanding guy – called me to say that he had failed a paper and so, he would not be getting his ‘Degree.’ His widowed mother made entreaties and asked me to extend the validity of his appointment letter by six months that would allow for him to clear his exams.
Although this was against policy, I took a view that we would allow for an extension that could have Sai join us. His mother was happy, Sai was happy. One day, Sai wrote to us to say that he had found a job closer home and was very thankful that we kept his offer valid as this gave him a big leg up to his sagging confidence. We were sorry that he could not join. All was forgiven and forgotten.
Fast forward to 2011. About four months ago, a colleague of mine called on me with a request to help him find a job for his wife, Sudha, a qualified sales person. I wrote to a good friend – let me call him Ram – a HR head of one of the largest Indian banking institutions in the country and asked that he consider her candidature on merits. Ram responded to me to say he would try and forwarded my mail to some colleague of his.
A couple of months later, Sudha called me to say that she had ‘got the job’ and was most thankful to me. The excitement and gratitude got jumbled in the words that gushed and I was as thrilled she got the job. That is all that mattered. I was very impressed that her resumé got the right attention at the right level and the speed at which it was evaluated and an appointment letter issued, in one of the largest banks!
I was in wonderment of it all, when I got a call at my desk. It was from the Bank, and the head of HR wanted to speak to me. He mentioned that the mail came over to him, had noted where the mail emanated and had gone the extra mile to ensure that the CV got the right attention, etc. I thanked him profusely. He asked me if I remembered giving a helping hand to a candidate who had failed his exams many years ago. It was Sai. I could not believe it. Virtual hugs followed.
Today, Sudha called me and told me that she was awarded the highest order of merit by the bank for her performance and I congratulated her. I started humming Justin Timberlake’s song, “What goes around comes around.” And I remembered my grandmother...