I believe people are put into leadership chairs because corporates believe that the process of transformation is complete. When a person shows clear and loud inability to, think independently, care, and nurture. The misplaced notion being you can take care of the company without taking care of People or by creating a context that delivers superlative work!
Wasim was different. He had put together the most formidable team at Coca-Cola and each of them was brave, ingenious and almost puritanical in their approach towards marketing communication. He brought it upon himself, knowing full well that his life will be difficult managing the permanent tension between people who sought change, who would cause change and people who did not!
Why? Because I think great work is his lifeline! And he confesses that he is only what his team is.
I remember there would not be a single day we will not fight but he never threw his chair at me. Though he use to encourage me to throw my chair at everybody!
I did the best work of my life under him while he gave me the necessary air cover. The 4 and a half years saw the light shining bright at Coca-Cola with the repositioning of almost all brands leading them to soft and hard success, launch of Coke Studio, Execution of Small World Machine et al.
Then there was a time I started thinking that I need to find my own sunshine towards the latter part of my stint at Coca-Cola. Sometimes we forget that lion cubs grow best fighting with the elders in their pride. I left but not to join anywhere else. I became house husband and house dad - to which W only had to say, you continue to surprise me!
Wasim turned into family rather soon. Waheeda - his wife and Wasim became our guardian angel. He became a great appreciator of my brother’s photography work and has a few of his master pieces hung on his impeccably done house walls. He even stood at my brother's wedding as the bride’s brother.
He stays a fierce friend.
I have always chased people not jobs. I chased Wasim at Coca-Cola and I hope I will be chased in my life too!
As for Wasim, he has not even begun. He has only felt partial sunlight from the sun dawn. When he bathes in it, he will be a superman and though I will be his kryptonite I know he will embrace me nonetheless!
And if there are brands out there who are unable to sort their culture out, hire the right people, start many-a-first and succeed against all odds, there is no better human being out there than Wasim. And while he is at it and he calls me I may just refuse as I am a Blueberry farmer now!