16 June 2016 15:29:17 IST

The Opportunist

Grabbing the right opportunity to show off your abilities can pay rich dividends

He had a reputation of being cool and rarely hassled. Yet, of late, he felt quite frustrated that his new boss refused to appreciate his contributions.

It had not always been like this.

In the beginning

Arshad had joined this leading technology company five years earlier as AVP, Admin and Facilities. In the first two years, he was rated an outstanding performer and promoted to Vice-President. A year later, his boss was recalled to the parent company in the US.

Ron, the new CEO, firmly believed that the Sales and Delivery functions were the key business drivers and that all other functions were secondary. Last year, all of Arshad’s peers were rated either ‘Very Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. He was rated “Good”.

Appraisal time again

He entered Ron’s office at 7 pm, as scheduled. The secretary had left for the day.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries, Ron read from Arshad’s appraisal form, “Hmmm…you say that last year you saved us a substantial amount of money by consolidating some of our facilities and renegotiating lease rentals in others.”

Ron continued, “…but let us not forget that the whole real estate market is depressed and that would have contributed a lot to this.”

Before Arshad could respond, Ron’s intercom came alive.

A mild distraction

It was the security gate.

Ron sounded aggravated. “Why do these local politicians want to see me? It’s past 7. Tell them to come tomorrow and see the Admin Head…”

“What? They are already on the way to my office—!” Ron banged the telephone receiver down.

“Let me handle this Ron,” said Arshad

A moment later, a security person ushered two politicians into the room.

Arshad requested them to be seated.

The tall one spoke. “Good evening, sir, sorry to disturb you so late. I am the local MLA.”

Ron had been warned about these local politicians “Be polite and courteous to them. Their utility value may be zero but don’t ever under estimate their nuisance value.”

“That’s OK. What can I do for you,” responded Ron.

“ I am seeking donations for my charity trust,” said the MLA and instructed his companion, “ Give them their receipt.”

His assistant placed a pre-signed receipt in front of Ron. It was for a donation of a million Indian rupees.

“What is this about?” Ron addressed Arshad.

The MLA seemed clearly offended, “ Big companies like yours occupy our land but don’t employ our youth because they are not qualified. My charity is for them.”

It was time for Arshad to take over.

“ I agree we are a big company. But please remember, we are the subsidiary of an American company. There is a law in America called The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). If our company gives any donations, however small, then Mr Ron Hector, our CEO and his boss in America will both be sent to jail in the US.”

The MLA was not going to give in. “I saw his Mercedes ‘S’ Class parked in front of this building. We are not asking for much. You mean to say a big CEO like him cannot take such a small decision?”

“That is not his personal car,” Arshad said calmly, “It is given to him by the company.”

Arshad continued, “You are right. He may be the CEO of this big company here but the truth is that he really has no powers. All decisions are taken in America.”

The MLA vehemently shook his head.

“Believe me, I work for him. It would not be an exaggeration if I said that even before going to the toilet here, he has to take permission from his bosses in America.”

Arshad was definitely enjoying himself.

The MLA had really known all along that he could not force these foreign companies to make a donation. He was just trying his luck. He threw up his hands in mock anger and stormed out of Ron’s office with the assistant following. Arshad accompanied them to the main door, but his presence was not acknowledged.

A happy ending

Arshad walked back into Ron’s room, a triumphant look on his face. The arrival of those politicians was surely well-timed.

“Shall we continue with my appraisal, Ron?”

Ron had forgotten about the appraisal entirely, in the face of the recent crisis. He realised he was feeling quite worn out.

“It’s already late Arshad. Let’s do it another day. And thanks for getting rid of those two. By the way, I thought that toilet bit was a little stretched.”

“With these guys you never know. I had no choice but to stretch logic to its ridiculous ends. Let’s do the appraisal another day. Good night Ron,” said Arshad.

“Good night, Arshad,” Ron’s voice seemed distant.

That night Ron did not sleep well. Was it the way Arshad reduced him to a non-entity? Or was it because there was some truth in what Arshad said?

Either way, Ron knew he was going to carefully re-evaluate his previous assessment of Arshad.