Published on September 2nd, 2014 | by Sandeep Patil9
I would have merrily written this as his Linked-in recommendation… or would have made a similar speech someday in his appreciation had there been an appropriate occasion… but such are the cruel ways of life, that instead I have to write this as his obituary!
It’s been two years now since Bhavesh’s untimely, sudden and shocking demise. A day I could never forget! Such types of incidents leave a permanent impact, a permanent mark on your mind – just that in the day to day life we make peace with these memories. But there are times – occasions like the anniversary – when we submit ourselves to those memories, and let them unleash upon us in full force, let them run wild!
First time I met Bhavesh was in 2003, as my manager after joining Siemens, Bangalore. He was a Business Unit Head then. He had freshly recruited a group of some 10-20 engineers to kick-off few new assignments in Germany. We all worked together just for 3 months in India. Then we dispersed to various locations in Germany on our individual assignments. Though me or anybody of us (I presume) hadn’t fully grasped the importance of these new undertakings at that time, in the coming years it became clearer. And in the process I began appreciating the groundwork laid by Bhavesh to meet the uncertainties of the future. What I saw was a live example of one of the best team building exercises in one of the simplest way – just recruit the team of like-minded engineers and see that they spend quality time with each other!!! That’s it… no motivational speeches, no power-point presentations, no outings to resorts to play some bizarre games, no river rafting or rock climbing… just plain, simple, minimalist team building! Interestingly, these engineers were not even to work together in a single team. Instead they were to work for different clients at different locations. But in a year, they returned back to India. And in next couple of years their individual project teams started growing, where these people naturally took up the lead roles. This is when the initial team building started paying off. There was good synergy, understanding and co-ordination among the leaders of the various teams – readily built in. A long term vision! An interesting example of strategy!!!
As I and the other engineers returned from Germany, we found that the Business Unit back home under Bhavesh had nearly doubled in size in a year. In next couple of years, it went on growing at similar rate. Bhavesh, went on climbing up the managerial ladders very quickly. As a consequence, he started becoming more busy and we started seeing lesser of him. But what I remember vividly of those days is, for whatever reason none of us seemed awed due to his ascent, nor anybody from his old folks felt shy or inhibited to talk to him. In fact, when his name used to come in our discussion, we used to talk about him as if he was some backbencher friend of us whom we don’t get to see much nowadays! I have seen/worked with few good managers in my short career, but I do not remember any case where his team-mates thought their Manager to be one among them. There always used to be a wall of separation – due to respect, fear or whatever. In case of Bhavesh, this wall was very thin.
Some of his friends who had known him since their early days called him ‘genius’. I myself have seen strokes of it on occasions. But where I find his real greatness is that he never let his genius to be imposed on others! I cannot even call him humble for that matter; because even humble people impose their humbleness on others! So for instance, people would say “He is such a genius, but still so humble”. But he even would not carry that small trace with him! All I can say is, he was very natural, very effortless, very much himself.
I feel this effortlessness which was part of his personality played an important role in making him an exceptional leader. First, it used to set up an instantaneous appeal in the mind of the onlooker. Secondly, people did not feel need of any formalities while talking to him and would easily speak out their mind. These are very important leadership qualities – like connecting with people, gaining their trust and continuously giving them impression that their leader is always with them. All good leaders have unmistakably exhibited them, only their styles may differ. Even fewer leaders have carried them as a part of their persona, we call them natural leaders.
As years went by, I started seeing lesser and lesser of him. Then finally I moved to Germany for good. After shifting to Germany, I went on vacation to India a year later or so, when I went to Bangalore too and visited Siemens office to see old friends. I thought of calling on Bhavesh, but thought it was not a good idea to meet such an important person without any prior intimation. Perhaps I would waste his time. I returned to Germany, and after a few days an old friend told me that Bhavesh was inquiring about How I was doing in my new job etc. I felt bad for not meeting him when I was in India and decided to see him when I am again in Bangalore next time. But it was not going to happen! In few days, on the morning of Sept 3rd came the news crashing, of his sudden, shocking exit…
Well, its been 2 years since. The world has moved on – it has always been moving. Many of the youngsters at Siemens Bangalore might not have heard about him, or would have known a little. Those of us who got privilege to work with him is now almost a decade old group – many are not with Siemens now. But those who worked together in those days are a community of their own – an unnamed community without any Facebook page, any Whatsapp group or anything of that sort. Yet it was a community, because the most fundamental principle behind a commune was obeyed – a similar mindset. All communities represent their commonalities through some icon, some symbol. Bhavesh was that symbol! RIP!