To Hell and Back

“No bombs were dropped, no guns fired, armies were not sent to combat, capture or imprison – A mere confession made 50000 lives and their families sleepless, anxious and brought them to street”
– A former Satyam employee (quoted from Deccan Chronicle)

Today is 7th January, 2010 – the 1st Anniversary of the Satyam Saga, one that I was personally a part of and would remember for the rest of my life!

Actually, can’t believe that a whole year has passed and each one us who were affected seem to have moved on with our lives in some way or the other, despite the devastation. I still remember that day when at around 11 AM in the morning, we heard the news that our chairman, Ramalinga Raju, has confessed of a fraud – one whose magnitude was not known at that point of time, but still we had that sick, dampening feeling that it would change each and everyone of our lives forever. In fact, I personally thought it was a rumor when I heard of it – Satyam was facing brickbats from all quarters at that point of time especially after the failed Maytas Acquisition attempt in December 2008, so I thought this would be another rumor… but it wasn’t!

The hapless faces around me are still clear in my memory – the feeling of fear, helplessness, betrayal for all the good work so many of us had done… yet defiance not to be put down – the true mark of a Satyamite! I had never received so many calls in a span of 2 days in all my life: People not knowing what to say, how to console me… people wondering what I was doing in office since the media had almost proclaimed that the company was already shut down.

It is these helpless and completely uncertain moments in life when you realize something – nothing is permanent, no us, not our jobs, nothing… Two months ago, a guy amongst us might have been thinking of buying a new laptop – but today he would think twice before purchasing a new headphone – Because none of us knew when and where our next paychecks would come from.

What was important was that most of us chose to fight on… To continue to deliver value to our clients in spite of all odds, to see the company through. Survival was not an option for us, it was mandatory. But whatever we did to save the company, whatever the government did to bail us out, whatever the IT ecosystem did to prevent the company from dying – we always seemed to be fighting a lost war. I saw so many marriages getting broken down – People had lost faith on Satyam, and for some unknown reason, lost faith on the Satyamite.
It is unfortunate that we live in a society which only gives you credit when thinks are hunky dory. I wish someone would have come and told me – “Dude, give it a fight, stick on with Satyam and see it through”. All I could hear from people was whether I was getting good offers in the bad economy. Yes, they cared about me… but somehow Satyam as a company, even if it cheated the world thanks to the perpetrators, got cheated by the world who failed to sympathize with it!

Whatever happened after that is public knowledge… The government quick remedy steps, the Mahindra takeover and a lot of unpleasantaries for employees after that. You’ll hear Hari T, the Chief People Officer or whatever, of Mahindra Satyam these days quoting in newspaper columns that Satyam has changed its status from R.I.P (Recovery in Progress) to R.A.P (Recovered and Progressing)… but a few days back when I stepped into the Satyam Bangalore Campus at Electronic City to submit my resignation, I was appalled at the lifelessness there – You could hardly see any associates at lunch time… Same here in Chennai as well where they have closed down 5-6 offices. The dwindling numbers say it all – Satyam is no more. Yes, it has a new identity and has arguably recovered and is progressing… but the spirit seems to have vanished!

That was the story of last year, which most Satyamites would love to forget… but somehow I don’t! The reason I wanted to write this entry is because I want to introspect what we have taken away from this episode. Yes, we may have lost much in monetary as well as professional terms – but I think each one of us have gained character. We know what is the worth of being employed… and today when I look at people coming for interviews or running around with placement consultants, I feel a small empathy for them… and hope that they make it – for them, for their families, for their future! Such is the takeaway from this Satyam episode and I am glad that all this happened; Else I, for one, would have remained 50% more snobbish and 50% less humble than what I am today.

One Reply to “To Hell and Back”

  1. This was really well written. As a employee of Satyam — I can really connect with your blogs (both this and the one you wrote in June on VPP).

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