Despite my strong communist roots, I have always been a staunch follower of the laissez faire policy. Like most urban middle class kids brought up in the 90s, we believe in liberalization, free market economics, minimum government intervention and zero protectionism. So given my strong capitalist bias, I accepted corporate self-indulgence as a part and parcel of it.
And then I landed up in an Investment Bank. The funny thing is while the money was important (it always is), it wasn’t the driving force behind the decision. I was excited about the opportunity to set up a new team so early in my career, I was motivated by the completely open mandate which gave me the creative freedom to do things my way and I was humbled by the trust and responsibility vested in me. Over the last couple of years, despite all the volatility, the multiple restructuring, the changing hierarchy, we were able to withstand the turmoil, stand our ground and even expand the team, doing more work, better work, building relationships and most importantly doing it our way.
But then I discovered my deep socialist leanings. I was never a conventional corporate person, but I did not think it mattered as long as I did my job, and I did my job really well. The best part of starting a team from scratch was that it allowed me to drive it my way, without falling in the trap of being a typical sycophantic ‘manager’. So I always believed in standing up for the juniors, the new hires or the quieter ones who were bullied, who could not defend themselves and who were the easy targets of senior management. On the other hand, I fought tooth and nail with authority, questioning their practices and demanding more transparency, consistency and fairness. Like a foolish girl (as my dad calls me), I thought I could change the system, I could make a difference and I could prove that I was as good as the rest of them, even though I wasn’t necessarily one of them.
But of course, I lost! I became the popular leader, but not the recognized one; I became the refreshing change, but not the welcome one; I became the respected senior but not the rewarded one.
I became the poor man’s Karna who put up a brave fight but eventually succumbed (to three large pegs of Jack Daniels)…