Guest AuthorNathan S V

Slice of Work – The Steno of the GM

By | Nathan SV | Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India

He was a man diminutive of height. A quiet man, let us call him, Nags. He had been an assistant,  a secretary to a General Manager of a well-known trading company. He looked tentative and had a wry smile on him. He was waiting to be interviewed by S.Kumar, a VP of an MNC who wanted a steno typist. At a preliminary interview, a helpful recruiter suggested that he need to waste Kumar’s time with Nags as he was not a good MNC fit. Kumar however, waved him away and asked to meet Nags.

At first sight, he was tempted to believe that he was indeed a wrong fit. The man sported a broad checked shirt and a light green trouser. Not appealing at all. Kumar swallowed his bias, offered a seat, and asked about his education. BSc, Physics major said Nags. This was interesting, a Physics major was doing the job of a steno-typist! 86% aggregate, he added. Now, Kumar was curious. Sitting in front of him was a man who had a very good academic record but was doing a job of a steno typist. He was uncomfortable in the thought that he himself had not got those high marks in college. He had been fortunate to have pursued his MBA that got him a good job. Nags was less fortunate as he was to learn.

Upon gentle persuasion, Nags spoke of his family circumstances, the need to take up a job quickly to support his ailing father, and that the only job available to him was that of a typist. He grabbed it with all fingers he said. And after 18 years of working through the system had moved to be the secretary to the GM. Kumar by now had given up his prejudice on the checked shirt, the short stature and the lack of MNC look. He asked Nags some more questions and was convinced of his versatility. It was a sad quirk of fate that the immediacy of a family need had come in the way of a good man’s ambition. Here was an outstanding man whose time had come, felt Kumar.

‘You will work with me for only 18 months’, and I would like to see you move on he said. It was the turn of Nags to be surprised. Kumar added that he wanted Nags to grow in the organization and that he would support Nags along the way. ‘You will take on other roles in my function’ he added. Nags reached for his kerchief. Here was a man who wanted him to grow in the company ! He had not seen it in his own, and stifled a tear.

Everyone loved him. Nags was ever present, always ready to help and had earned the tag of reliability about him. Kumar moved him after 18 months and had him take other roles. Nags grew rapidly. Time went by. Years later, Nags went to Kumar’s house and pressed an envelope into his hand and said that he had an external opportunity and wanted his views. It was a job offer from a very reputed company and for the post of a ‘GM- Operations’. What a distance Nags had covered!! It was the turn of Kumar to reach for his kerchief.A warm hug and coffee ensued. 

A secretary to a General Manager was now a General Manager! What a movement, what a journey! There are many in the world who all but need an opportunity and faith. Faith in the ability of an ‘ordinary’ steno typist.

Republished with permission and originally published at Nathan SV’s LinkedIn

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