When I read about the appointment of Ishaat Hussain as the Chairman of TCS, I smiled and remembered my chance meeting with him and what I learned about him that day:
Sometime in the year 2000, after the first success of my Internet foray (Contests2win), my wife Chhavi and I were invited to drinks and dinner at Manjeet Kriplani’s quaint house overlooking the Oval Maidaan at Churchgate. Manjeet was the India head of Businessweek and loved interacting with entrepreneurs.
In her hall I immediately recognized Ishaat Hussain who by then was well known as a key man in the Tata Empire. He was the CFO of Tata Steel and well entrenched in the Tata system. Some people had tipped him to be the next Tata head. I wanted to speak to him but was distracted meeting someone else. Then Manjeet announced, guys, “check out my moms famous Sindhi Curry” (veg was also there) and we went into the dining hall.
Inside, I spotted Chhavi speaking to Ishaat and was intrigued! What were they talking about?
Later, I quietly asked her, “Chhavi, what were you speaking to that gentleman about? Do you know who he is?”
She said, “Yeah! I asked him what he does and he said “I work for the Tatas.” Then I probed him further and he said, “I work in the accounts department”.
This is the humility that make great men greater over time.
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