From womb to tomb
A couple of months ago, I completed 25 years in my company. Since then, my sentiment has been swinging from sheer pride to sheepishness depending on who I am talking to. As my boss handed me the gleaming silver plaque, which is customarily given to commemorate the day, my mind rapidly rewound the twenty-five years. Different business units, different bosses, even different functions: I had been through it all to get to where I was. And it didn’t quite seem like it was only one company that I had worked for.
And then I was reminded of a conversation I had, not so long ago, with a bright, young girl by the name Yamini, who worked for us. She was one of our stars and had been given every possible signal to be aware that she was a star. And yet, one fine day, she announced her desire to leave us and join another company for a similar job, at a marginally higher salary. ‘’Why???’’ I asked. Her reply had me completely flummoxed. “I have been here five years and it’s time to move.” Almost like staying over five years in one company was sounding the death’s knell for her career. And nothing that I said to reassure her about her growth path in the company would convince her. I realized that most of today’s youngsters thought like Yamini. If you hadn’t changed a job every three years, you were a loser and your CV was trash. So I am sure that Gen Y (read Yamini!) scoffs at my 25 years of experience and I know better than to flaunt it as an achievement to them.
Now cut to one of my Directors who has spent… hold your breath….30 odd years in the company. He is CEO, Director on the Board, a revered industry figure and has reached the pinnacle of success in every sense. When I think about him, my heart swells with pride at my 25 years of service, and my faith in the principles of loyalty or growing talent from within (depending on which hat I am wearing – employee or Head of HR) is restored.
So, the philosophy of growing leaders from within is great. But growing to the top needs as much gumption from the individual as it does from the organization. It takes patience, perseverance and the willingness to forgo short term gains. As they say, it takes two to tango. An organization that is deeply committed to growth from within, and an employee who believes in womb to tomb, or, shall we say from B School to Boardroom?