I didn’t think I will get a chance to meet him in this trip, but telepathy worked and just as I picked up my phone on Monday during a break, Venki called 🙂 and we did manage to meet on Tuesday. Not just me, the gang managed to meet him which was almost like being in one of our OYD or CYD sessions. An uncontrollable Shalini, an articulate Shakun and both not letting the clear thinking Raghavan to utter a word … Rohit you were sorely missed. Atleast you would have managed to say something. S&S just took over.
Venki is my coach, mentor, friend and my first and enduring corporate idol. On an August afternoon 24 years back, he made the mistake of taking a post lunch class on ethics for 30 newly recruited faculty and not letting one of us blink. I had found my corporate guru and I thought then that someday I should be like him, able to hold an audience spellbound with my conviction, communication and leadership skills. I also took his ethics lesson to heart and values and ethics became the cornerstone of my career.
This was a time when there was no internet, no email and we had to book a trunk call and STD had just been introduced, so there was no way to stay in touch and I anyway didn’t introduce myself to him in that session. So he was oblivious of my existence ! Life moved on, Krishnan came into my life six months later and became the my life’s idol and meaning besides filling the gap for a corporate mentor. Then I met another close friend of Venki’s nearly 12 years later in Spectramind and he became my mentor and a dear friend. As soon as I knew Vish was from NIIT, I asked him if he knew Venki and he said yes, and also that they were neighbours. Venki escaped me then too, I never managed to meet him through Vish. Then I moved to my current organization and four years back, when I got promoted I asked for an executive coach.
Our Talent Development leader then, shared many profiles and when none of them worked out and I told her exactly the type of person I had in mind, she said the famous words – “there is one person, from your part of the country, but he doesn’t accept coachees as easily. This is a guy called Venki Iyer.” And I asked her if he was from NIIT and she said yes and I knew, I had finally tracked Venki down. When I met him, 20 years later, our 30 minute conversation went on for an hour and a half 🙂 ofcourse it led to him becoming my coach and when we did the “Control Your Destiny” session in Oct 2010 – it was déjà Vu for me to be in class again and an absolute honour to introduce my corporate idol to my team. The rest is history – my team ofcourse just became fans as expected.
Venki, you brought perspectives that expanded my vision, you challenged me when I thought I couldn’t think any further, you taught me new things and most of all, you validated my belief that its ok to stick to your values and ethics and the rewards are just. I learnt to be more tolerant of different styles, inclusiveness became second nature and I will never forget the lesson on working from my strengths. One of our leaders recently wrote that mentoring is “giving forward” and you have “given forward” not just for me but to the whole team. Every time we meet you, we learn something and that is invaluable. I don’t intend to repay any of my debts to you because I would like to remain indebted – there is much to learn still. I do promise to “give forward” and I think you are fine with that. Don’t complain about having to work on Saturdays for my sake – when you make mistakes of the kind you did during FDP in Aug ’89, this is what happens. :):)
Thank you for starting me off on the right path and rejoining the journey when I needed your guidance the most…. Please continue to guide and shape my career and we will find more people who can carry on your vision of an ethical, values based, inclusive work environment.
Your rating on my ordinal scale is 100/10, and if you want to improve that rating… We can talk about it, I can help you :):)