The Sacking Saga

I joined Mobily Infotech India Private Limited (MIT) on 02Jun2010, one day after the appointed date. The delay was because I missed my flight from Kolkata to Bangalore. Why I missed the flight is a story in itself. I resigned from Siemens and after deliberations, Siemens agreed to relieve me on 31May10. I started the handover activities and everything was going smoothly. On 30May10 (Sunday), my boss called me to request that I should be in Gurgaon the next day as there was an audit team coming from Germany and I was required to explain the Convergence Project at Bhutan Telecom. So, arrangements were made so that I could fly to Delhi in the morning and return to Kolkata by afternoon so that I could catch the evening flight to Bangalore. I could not go from Delhi to Bangalore as my colleagues requested me to be available in Kolkata on 31May10. So, I went through my routine, which I had conducted many times, to wake up at 4:00 AM and leave for the Airport by 4:30 AM to catch the flight at 6:00 AM to reach Delhi by 8:15 AM and reach my office in Gurgaon by 9:30 AM. Straight away I went in to the meeting venue where the 5 auditors were already present. After introductions, we got down to business and in the next 2 hours, I answered all that I was asked. I said bye to some of my colleagues in the Gurgaon office and headed for the Airport at around 12:15 PM. On reaching the Airport, I found that the 2:00 PM Air India flight was delayed. I requested Air India to put me on another flight so that I could reach Kolkata by 5:00 PM. They said they could not do anything. So, I called my HRM in Kolkata to please wait for me as she needed handing over my relieving letter. Also, I called my colleagues and they said that they would wait for me. I also called my father to cancel his trip to the Airport as he was to get my suitcase to the Airport that I would carry to Bangalore. The Air India flight took off at 4:00 PM. On reaching Kolkata, I went to the Jet Airways Airport counter and cancelled my tickets to Bangalore and got a seat in the evening flight the next day. By 7:00 PM I was on the way to my office. On the way, I called Shashikant, who was the Recruitment Manager dealing with my case and explained him the situation and informed that I would not be able to join the next day. He asked me to relax and join on 02Jun10. I reached our office at around 7:30 PM and as I got out of the lift on the 12th floor, I found Mousumi, our HR, waiting to get into the lift. When she saw me, she followed me into the office. At the Security Desk, Mousumi asked me to handover the laptop and the access card. Sovan, from the Infrastructure team, checked the laptop and said everything was fine and signed the laptop handover form. Mousumi put the final signature on the exit form and handed me my relieving letter. So, I was relieved from Siemens. I went to our bay on the 13th floor and found my colleagues waiting for me. We had a brief session in which they gave me a wonderful model of a ship carved in wood. After saying goodbye, I went home. I left for Bangalore the next evening in a very relaxed manner at the cost of one day salary.

I joined MIT as the Senior Manager for IT Development. MIT had 3 main divisions – IT Development, IT Operations and Call Center. I headed the IT Development division. After completing my joining formalities, Pratibha and Shashikant took me to my cabin which was neatly arranged with all needful and the laptop – fully connected and ready for use. This impressed me enormously. At lunch time, Navas requested me to join him for lunch at Radha Hometel. Navas headed the IT Operations division. This was the beginning of a great friendship which I cherish till this date and want to treasure for my life. Under IT Development, I managed the development across all the IT Solutions used by our Operations in Riyadh and the Quality Assurance Team – responsible for all the testing activities.

From here on, I will use fictitious names as the story is not pleasant. All the incidences are, however, real. In the testing team, Raju (name changed) was a member, who was an extremely talented person and the best in the team for testing for all the Billing functions. Raju was a very good company during the smoke breaks as he was very funny. I further connected with him as he was from Bihar and I had good connection with Bihar as my parents had lived there for nearly 15 years. During the annual day, I found that Raju was a very good cricketer and very good sportsman in general. I had met Raju’s wife when she had come to our office on one occasion carrying lunch for Raju. I really liked this guy as he was an all-rounder.

As was our practice, we sent members of our team to Riyadh from time to time for knowledge transfer and/or for covering for some on site resource when they would be away for vacation. This incidence happened when I had sent Raju to Riyadh to test for Billing upgrade project. My peace in the office was suddenly broken when the HRM came to my office and showed me a SMS on a mobile handset. In the SMS, the writer had stated how much the person loved the receiver and all that. I asked her who had sent this SMS and to whom. I was informed that Raju had sent the SMS to a lady in the Administration Department (Let us call her Jenny). HRM said that she wanted to sack Raju for this and I should do the needful. I told her that let us investigate the same a little further. She told me that no investigation was required as there was a previous case pending against Raju. I requested for the details. She told that Raju had previously hacked into the HR system and extracted all the salary and appraisal information. I asked her why he was not sacked then. She told me that it could not be proved conclusively and thus the case was dropped. I said in that case the previous incidence could have no bearing on what was under consideration now. So, she went back to her office to return in less than 5 minutes. During our conversation, another SMS had reached the mobile phone from Raju which we did not open as it was Jenny’s phone. When HRM handed over the phone to Jenny, she saw this and again handed the phone back to the HRM. This message stated that Jenny would have the worst life and she would not be peaceful and many more details. I concluded that Raju was under stress and thus would not be serving his purpose in Riyadh. So, I told the HRM that I would call him back immediately. I called manager for the Acceptance Testing. He was very reluctant. However, I told the situation and assured him 2 more resources to work from Bangalore on his project to make up for Raju’s work. I also called up my counterpart in Riyadh, The Director for IT Development, and got his consent. I requested Jenny to book the next available flight for Raju to return to Bangalore.

In the meanwhile, news had spread across the office that Raju was called back from Riyadh midway through his assignment. One of the old employees of MIT, also from Bihar, came to my office and informed that Raju and Jenny were very close to each other and used to always have lunch together, etc. The matter was more complex than what I apprehended. Raju flew from Riyadh on Wednesday night as was our practice (The weekend in Saudi Arabia is on Thursday and Friday) and came to the office on Friday and came straight to my office. After exchanging pleasantries, I asked him what was happening. He informed me that his wife had gone back to her parent’s house and thus he was under stress. I asked him what that had to do with the SMS he was sending. He said that he considered Jenny as a very close friend and was thus sharing his anxieties with her and when he did not receive any empathy, he had blown his top. Well, I felt that this was a momentary behaviour change under stress which could be rectified. As he was a very good resource, I wanted to help him. So, I sent him to his workstation to carry on with the Billing upgrade testing. The HRM soon came to my office and told me to write a mail to her stating that she had my consent for the sacking of Raju. I stated my understanding and told her that the situation could be handled differently. She would not budge, possibly more so as Jenny was a part of her team. She informed me that she had already got the consent from the General Manager in Riyadh for the same. I saw the email and told her that I would like to speak to the General Manager before I took the next step. I tried desperately to reach the General Manager by phone without any success. I decided not to write a mail as he had already replied to the mail from the HRM. I did not call the CEO in Riyadh as I felt that it would be an extreme action on my part. So, very reluctantly, I agreed with the HRM that we should have a meeting with Raju and then after the meeting, based on the outcome, I would write the mail.

We called Raju to my office. Now, we were three of us in my office – Raju, HRM and I. I requested Raju to explain his situation. He started to narrate the story of his domestic problems with his wife. HRM asked him why he had hacked into the HR system earlier. Raju again tried to prove his innocence. However, he made a fatal mistake. During this interrogation about the HR system, he blurted out that there were many who had access to the HR system and so why he was being questioned. HRM had all she needed and I was helpless. So, I told Raju to send me his resignation letter. HRM was surprised. I told her that let Raju write that he is resigning on his own accord and I would approve the resignation for relieving him within 1 week. I told her that I needed the 1 week for Raju to transfer knowledge about the Billing upgrade project. We all agreed. Raju sent his resignation letter. I accepted the resignation and approved relieving Raju on the next Friday.

I thought through the weekend and concluded that I should try to help Raju. So, I thought I would prepare a report on the Billing Upgrade project and prove how vital Raju was to the completion of the project. I started preparing the report on Monday. However, Monday was a very busy day as I had very long scheduled meetings with QAI, who were our consultants for helping us to achieve CMMi Level 3 certifications. During this meeting, at around 3 PM, I received a call. The gentleman introduced himself as Raju’s father. I came out of the meeting to answer the call. He explained that Raju was under stress and explained various aspects for nearly 45 minutes. I was getting more convinced that I should help Raju. I told him that I would try my best and we were about to hang up when Raju’s father said that he was very grateful to me and trusted me. However, he would see to that Raju’s wife had a hard time as she is solely responsible for this situation. This pierced me like a gun shot. I hung up and decided that Raju would go.

Raju left the office on Friday. In the meanwhile, we started looking for a suitable software for the HR Management. One week later, Raju came to our office to collect his full and final settlement wearing a T-Shirt of a reputed Multi-National Company.

Life is a journey. Troubles are an unfortunate part of it. Raju, now, is enjoying a happy life with his wife and family as i do enjoy remembering the good old days.

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