The Hermit’s Tree
Good evening Cybage and welcome again to Pune’s most happening party. Every year as I stand here, the same thought crosses my mind… Cybage rocks!! 5700 rock stars now! Frankly, it’s chaotic. Especially during the management dance. The youngsters freaking out, laughing at the oldies shaking their bums. It is confusing. Who is the boss here? The ones on stage or the ones off stage?
In good old days, it was simple. There will be a boss on top. This boss will pamper the top layer. This top layer, in turn, will exploit the mid layer to get the work done. And the junior layer, nobody cared – they were disposable. Then our industry arrived. And the rules changed. Now how did that happen? Well, it’s time for a story…
Once a hermit sows a seed in his courtyard. Out of the seed sprouted a tiny plant. He nurtured it like his own baby. With time, the fragile stem grew into a trunk, branches with beautiful leaves. The hermit constructed an underground wall so that the roots of the neighboring trees wouldn’t interfere with his tree’s growth. Everyday, he would water the roots, trim crooked branches, clean up the dry leaves, meditate against the trunk, and nap on swings hanging from the branches. His tree was neither old nor tall, but it was the prettiest one in the forest. He was a proud hermit. And why not? He had unknowingly created the structure of a modern day IT company.
The roots are the seasoned layer… they are also grounded and invisible. That’s the right place for top executives – Vice Presidents, Delivery Managers. Unlike olden days, the seniors shouldn’t fly high, rather be down-to-earth and approachable.
The trunk and branches are the backbone. The trunk supports our back, the branches swing us to success. That’s the role of the mid layer – project, module leads, managers. This layer should not be exploited, rather treated like a partner.
Finally, the beautiful leaves. Their dreams to touch glorious heights are what give the tree its vibrancy. The leaves represent the junior mainstream that is no longer invisible. In fact this is the most energetic and free-flying layer of the tree.
Grounding of the top layer; Partnership of the mid-layer; Dreams of the junior layer – three secrets of an evergreen tree. Or so the hermit imagined. But, Destiny had a different plan. Our story has a twist…
One day, the tree started drying up. The hermit panicked, before he realized his evergreen tree was a leafless ghost. Then once a heavy wind blew, it knocked off the tree, crushing the hermit under its weight. The end. The Hermit’s and the Tree’s.
So what went wrong? Simple. The surrounding trees in the jungle had grown much taller. They obstructed sunlight from reaching the leaves of the hermit’s tree. Without photosynthesis, the tree dried up from malnutrition. You see, while the hermit believed he had raised his tree well, his actions were no different than how old companies were run.
Let’s start at the roots. Trees in jungles do not need daily watering. The roots draw their own water by going deep and wide. But many companies, like the Hermit, keep feeding the top tier, underground where nobody can see, till they are priced out of the market. Like the hermit, they build an underground wall of money to make their seniors invisible to poachers. Such protective measures deprive roots of natural growth.
Your Cybage is different. Our seniors are not pampered because of dependency. No special treatment, same org policies and appraisal methodologies like everyone else. No luck, no incentives – they have to earn their position. Perhaps we might be the only large IT player where the top tier is not rewarded for targets, rather gets an identical variable like all Cybagians.
And thanks to our fair top play – your Cybage broke growth records across all practices this year. The future looks even brighter as our leadership team goes full throttle up the value chain… technology vertical, architectural consulting, digital transformation, and many centers of excellence. So tonight, no grounding for our veterans. Tonight, their place is on the dancing stage, in the VIP enclosure. Tonight let’s honor them in front of their proud families with a thundering applause.
Now moving up to trunk and branches. Using young trunk for back support, fragile branches for swinging is a one-way partnership. It’s exploitation and weakening of those who bear all the weight. That’s how many organizations treat their mid-layer, load them up and then reward those who generate the most profit. Any branch not growing in the upward direction is trimmed. Partnership only in success, not in failure!
But not in Cybage. Over here we stand together in good and bad times. No project, module lead or manager’s future is influenced because of right or wrong project – profit or loss, growth or degrowth, strategic or tactical, happy or unhappy customer, cutting edge or outdated technology, development or maintenance. No matter in which direction our branches grow, they are not trimmed.
And how can we? Just look at our mid-tier’s phenomenal accolades. Even as they scaled up a record 70 new customers in a year, the satisfaction index of our old customers hit an all time high! Even as they ramped up and deployed 1400 newcomers, they didn’t compromise on adoption of futuristic lifecycle tools. Even as massive demand-supply mismatch rocked our industry, our teams enjoyed an outstanding work-life balance. So if you have ever loved your project, module lead or manager, this is a good time to express your feelings.
Finally the beautiful leaves. They protected the hermit from sun, wind, rain – but they were so far from his line of sight that he didn’t realize they were starving for sunlight for unknowingly, he had stunted the tree’s growth. His only interaction was raking up the dead leaves. The new ones grew where the old ones fell. That’s how many companies view their young blood. Let them fly free, because if they fly away, who cares.
Well, your Cybage does. We have no illusion our success is not derived from visions of the leaders, rather dreams of the young. Youngsters are the leaves that brave rough weather on the front line, yet they don’t lose their aspiration to touch great heights. Their dreams are infectious. Their desire to grow pushes everyone to excel. When the leaves bask in sunshine, the whole tree blossoms.
And the Cybage tree sure blossomed this year. Not just business. Fun, sports, music, CSR – from Cybage corridors to Laxmi Lawns – the air is resonating with dreams and laughter of our youngsters. Many companies boast of their great culture to integrate newcomers. But at Cybage, it’s the other way round. Our culture comes from today’s generation, who bring their hopes, their values, who “bring life to work”. So if you are one of our life-giving leaves, if “you made it happen”… then take over this moment by giving yourself a thundering applause.
Leaves are no more disposable, than branches or roots. After all, it is just one tree! Who should be grounded, who should be a partner, who flies free? Who has the right to make these divisions? The Hermit? He was only the initial caretaker. The plant grew up, but the hermit still lived under the illusion that he owned his creation! He failed to realize the tree’s existence was much bigger, one that needed to grow to survive. He became selfish and content once the tree’s shade was wide enough to service his personal needs. Like many founders once they get their big bank balance, big house, big car.
Enjoy fruits of success; yet pretend to be a selfless hermit, a giver who has made the world a better place with his gift. It’s an illusion. For a founder’s true identity is that of a lucky seed. But the reality check carries insecurity. ‘Once the seed sprouts, what about me?’ Mistake. A seed doesn’t die… just that its identity becomes one with the tree…in the roots, branches and leaves. And there is no humility in accepting that. On the contrary, it is such a massive ego kick for me to be first identified as a Cybagian, and only then as a boss! For there are many bosses in the world, but there is only one Cybage! And standing here in front of it is an incredible honor! And tonight the honor is even greater.. because tonight we have a very special friend in the audience, your organization’s first employee ID.. ladies and gentleman, Rahul Phadtare… So thank you Rahul, Cybagians, and the one above – for blessing your lucky seed and your magnificent tree. Goodnight.