I never realized I would get a chance to meet this guy again – even if to just say “Thank You”
The year was 1989. Campus interviews were going on in full swing. Those days, if you were in my college and specialized in the stream I did, you almost automatically came to the USA for higher studies. Except that, I did not care for higher studies in my stream. It was a tough peer pressure to fight those days. I was fresh off a discussion with my dad and uncle on a long distance trunk call who were urging me to go to the USA. When I demanded to know what was in it for them – since I did not see myself as the guy who would flourish in that stream doing research – my uncle explained to me that it was not supposed to be all about me. That I needed to realize if I could go to the USA and establish myself, at least one generation of our extended family would acquire a safety net of financial stability.
I was not ready for any responsibility. I just wanted to be who I was. Against that backdrop, the next day, this gentleman- the HR head in a company called COSL, at the end of the interview had a simple question – “Convince me that if you get a job with us, you will join us instead of going to the USA”. As irritated as I was (not because of the question itself – but because of the backdrop of previous day’s discussions), I kept my calm – as much as a 22 year old can probably keep his calm and explained my priorities – get a MBA degree in India, get a job, go to USA to get a Masters degree. So, he was not on the top of my list but he was certainly above me going to the USA.
He did offer me a job. I did get a chance to get a MBA degree in India. So, I never joined his company then. But I never forgot him. Or his company. A year later, in my MBA school campus, that company came seeking summer interns. I showed up. Sure enough, he was there. Although he did not recognize me. Right at the beginning, I explained our previous encounter. He just got up, told me there was no need for an interview, gave me the internship and stepped out to have a smoke.
I went back to that company a year later for my full time job. COSL eventually transferred me to its mothership – Citibank USA. Much later, I was able to get to myself to a reasonable position where I was able to somewhat give some financial security to my extended family. Unfortunately, my uncle never lived long enough to see that I did fulfill his dream. Except it was done on my terms.
Separated by tens of thousands of miles with no such thing as Facebook, cellphone or Whatsapp, I never got a chance to hook up with that gentleman who made such a big difference to me during that interview when I was so impressionable.
Till this Sunday!! Found out – thanks to Facebook, cellphone and WhatsApp that he was in town to drop his daughter at Emory. Had a great time meeting him and his family.
Mr. Pradeep Mukherjee, as I mentioned this Sunday, thank you so much for the difference you have made to my life – without probably every realizing so!! I hope to emulate your example and do the same to others some day!