My Past Bosses

My Bosses over 20 odd years

This one should be a super hit (as they say in Bollywood), as bosses and spouses are the most talked about (maligned?) people on earth.

Boss at the Ad Agency: A lady was my first boss at this workplace. I was a fresher, and I felt she did not make use of skills (ha!) that I had. But I did learn how to be pushy from her. She was not that good at her work, but adequate for a small agency that had no ambition. My (women) colleagues did not like her one bit, and my (male) colleague Sunil Jariwala who was in media, was also fairly cool. She wrote my first appraisal in my work life, and it was not flattering. I did not stay long enough for the second appraisal.

Market Research Company: At my second job, the bosses (three of them) I had (C.K. Sharma, Matthew Paul and Shyam Sunder) were some of the nicest guys on earth. They were very democratic, and being from a similar background as mine (an IIM), maybe, were understanding. They gave me challenging work to do, and appreciated good work when I did some. I was rapidly transferred to their biggest territory (Mumbai), and they were cordial even when I left to go to the U.S. I really enjoyed my work, though the pay was not so great.

My Ph.D. guide at Clemson (Mike Stahl) was great, a very focused guy, and but for him, it would have taken me much longer than three years. He was quick with feedback, and pushed for acceptance from other members of the committee if he was convinced. When I see some struggling doctoral students in India, I am reminded of my good fortune.

At Lander, my Dean Dale Molander was very respectful (because I could teach quant subjects?), and supportive. Quanti teachers got a lot of respect in the U.S. anyways. He was also a very straight-talking and easy-to-get-along-with guy.

My first Indian academic boss (A Jesuit Father): At Bhubaneswar, I was aghast when I attended my first faculty meeting. It was more like a discourse in a Sunday Mass, and the boss was unstoppable. Anyway, I got into a fight and left fairly quickly, but it bothered me for a long time, coming from a democratic system in the US where faculty even voted on critical matters. This guy was also vindictive, and left a bad taste in the mouth.

Boss at Hyderabad: An officer and a gentleman is how I would describe this guy, ex-Air Force officer and ex-faculty member at Administrative Staff College (ASCI), who saw us through the initial few years. We jelled well.It was a nice experience while it lasted- about three years.

Kirloskar Institute: Boss No. 1: He had pedigree (had been at IIMA for donkey’s years), and good teaching style, but was somewhat introverted. We got along fine, and I learnt how to invest in infrastructure (intellectual) from him. We had a great collection of Harvard cases, films and business books. One of the films we used there, called “Who Killed the Sale?” was a classic.  We also had great visiting faculty from IIMs and elsewhere. We also valued people- salaries were twice those at other colleges.

Boss No. 2: Though not as illustrious as his predecessor in management training, he was a great human being, respectful and nice to work with. He succeeded in getting an MBA program going at Harihar, and genuinely wanted the good of the institution and all stakeholders.

Boss No. 3: A devil incarnate, and my first inspiration to strike out as a director. Absolutely without scruples. I had the most altercations in my life with this guy, and I don’t think they had any impact on him, as his skin was too thick. Teflon coated, as U.S. president Reagan was once called.

At Lucknow: He was a director with a reputation for leadership, and I had no trouble at all from him. He had a lot of finesse in dealing with people, though it was apparent that there were many who did not approve of him. But then, a leader or anyone in an administrative position can rarely please everyone. One of his bad traits was getting less than qualified people to teach at IIML, but most IIMs were in dire straits for faculty, so maybe there was some good in that. I don’t know.

Other academic bosses: Boss No. 1: A very shrewd guy, managed his self-interest, but not that of his team. Did not have a clear plan for the institution, except claiming to be high and mighty. Lived on his past reputation, mostly.

Boss No. 2: Another inspiration for my directorial ambitions. Had a severe case of verbal diarrhoea, and people ran miles to avoid getting into the trap of his one-way communication. But a relatively ego-less guy, and therefore easy to get along with if you could tolerate the earlier-mentioned fault.

I become the boss: I also have a few (!) faults. I am the big-picture guy, not too target-oriented, tough, and so on, but I believe I am easy to work with (mostly), and concerned about an individual’s development. I also delegate extensively, and (I believe) give enough rope to people to hang themselves. I have no illusions of greatness (either mine or anyone else’s)- I believe we are all fallible.


Diamond Head said…
America is big on matrix orgs so the term boss is relative (pun intended) - except when it comes to getting that promotion or moolah. Intellect is a rare commodity.
Rajendra said…
ha, ha, I would second the second statement for a large majority of cases here as well.

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