Management Case Studies: Playboy Manager

Playboy Manager

Vinny Ahuja, the HR chief of Integrated Medicines division of Universal Medi Corp was in conversation with division’s executive vice president- the number one at division’s hierarchy, “Sir, can I schedule the interview for your personal secretary the coming Friday? I have personally shortlisted the best from the candidates I have interviewed.”

Rupesh Lahiri, the executive vice president nodded, “It’s OK, go ahead. Hope, she is the best. I was fed up with the last one whom I had to finally fire.”

“Well, I exactly know your requirement by now. Anything else I can do for you, sir?”

Without answering, Rupesh Lahiri cut off the phone connection. Lahiri hated Ahuja but he had to bear with him because of the secret knowledge Ahuja had of him, the knowledge that could ruin his career.

Lahiri was the rising star of Universal Medi Corp. None had seen the kind of phenomenal growth Lahiri had achieved in the company. He had become the darling boy of the entire board. The members of the board of directors had already decided to include him in their rank very soon.

But Ahuja could definitely puncture this prospect because he knew why Lahiri had requisitioned the transfer of Sevak Lal from the Surgical Instruments division of the company where Lahiri was the boss before taking over the executive vice president’s position in Integrated Medicines division.

Within an year of taking over Integrated Medicines division, Lahiri reorganized his setup to create a new position. He wanted to fill it up by positioning a real competent guy. And as per him Sevak Lal was that guy. Sevak Lal was his right hand man in many ways. Sevak Lal had worked for Lahiri as his executive assistant in Surgical Instruments division of the company.

But instead of directly asking for Sevak Lal, for his own reasons, Lahiri decided to go through the proper channel and roped in the services of HR of the division. That’s the first time he came across Ahuja. He spoke with Ahuja, “Mr Ahuja, can you please help me in recruiting the best possible professional from the industry for this new position? You must have seen the reorg chart by now.”

Ahuja replied, “I have, sir. I will start the process of recruitment the soonest. And sir, you can address me by my first name Vinny.”

“Great. Do it fastest, on yesterday basis. Thanks Vinny and keep me posted.”

Accordingly, Ahuja brought before Lahiri many competent professionals but Lahiri rejected each one of them for one reason or the other. He almost reprimanded Ahuja, “You are not helping me out. Almost more than three months are gone and I am still at the same place. Please get me the right person. And to make things easy for you Vinny, I will suggest Sevak Lal’s name. Have you heard of him? He works in our Surgical Instruments division.”

“I know him. But will his current boss release him?” Ahuja was not pleased with the idea of recruiting Sevak Lal. He had shown lot more competent professionals to Lahiri.

“I will like you to convince all the concerned persons in Surgical Instruments division and get Sevak Lal here soon in case you are not in a position to fix up some other guy.”

“I will speak with all the concerned persons and make sure that Sevak Lal is transferred to our division soon.” Ahuja was left with no alternative, he seemed to have already wasted three precious months of the company as per Lahiri.

After this meeting Ahuja got very curious. He thought, “Why the boss is so much interested in Sevak Lal despite the fact that I have shown him much better candidates? I must find the answer.”

So he contacted his HR counterpart in the other division where Sevak Lal was working. These two HR guys were great friends having passed out from the same college. And Ahuja was stunned by what this HR counterpart told in utter secrecy, “Ahuja, listen carefully. What I am going to tell you is very explosive. A rumor kept on circulating in our division while Lahiri was the boss here. Rumor was about Sevak Lal being used as a pimp by Lahiri. Lahiri, it seems is a great playboy and Sevak Lal used to arrange girls for him. That may be one strong reason for Lahiri wanting Sevak Lal under his wings again. You know the habits die hard. Hope you understand what I am hinting at. Now don’t ask me more, I wish to be kept out of it. However I will send your formal request of Sevak Lal’s transfer to our chief boss here.”

In the mean time Lahiri had spoken with Sevak Lal, “Sevak, please talk to your boss and get your transfer formalized. I want you here immediately. I am recommending a promotion for you and raise in your salary on transfer. This is just the start. You will keep on getting your goodies as in earlier times once you come here. So join me soon.”

“I too look forward to serve you again sir,” said Sevak Lal.

Within a few days after this Ahuja completed all the necessary paperwork and Sevak Lal was brought in Integrated Medicines division to work for Lahiri.

Sevak Lal occupied a house in the company’s township that was at a few minutes distance from the office of Integrated Medicines division. In fact he insisted on it, “I need to be near the office. I need to give more time to this new department. If I live in the city I will need to commute a lot and I do not wish to waste my time.”

The HR manager of Surgical Instruments division had given an idea of Lahiri-Sevak Lal modus oprandi. And so Ahuja kept an eye on the activities going on at Sevak Lal’s house in the company’s township. Sevak Lal was a bachelor and had no family. So he used to take lunch in the division’s cafeteria and his house used be locked throughout the office hours including the lunch time.

Though for the first few days of Ahuja’s surveillance of Sevak Lal’s house nothing extraordinary happened, he continued his watch over the house. And one day he found that during the lunch time Sevak Lal’s house did not have a lock on the main door of the house and Sevak Lal’s car was parked outside the house.  Then after about half an hour or so he was surprised to see Lahiri coming out of the house instead of Sevak Lal. Lahiri looked around, got into the car and headed for the office. Ahuja hanged around making sure that nobody was watching him. After a few minutes a lady walked out of the house. She walked for a furlong or so where a car was parked. She got into it and drove away.

Ahuja captured the entire episode on his cell phone- a complete video. That evening, he rang Sevak Lal and said, “You know that in addition to looking after the HR function I am also responsible for admin and security affairs of our township. I am a bit concerned about the safety and security of your home in the township. I happened to see some unusual things happening in and around your house during the lunch time while you were still in your office. Please come to my office, I need to talk to you personally about it.”

Sevak Lal got a shock of his life hearing what Ahuja narrated to him. He simply replied, “I will meet you in your office immediately.”

Ahuja locked up his cabin while he was negotiating with Sevak Lal. He mentioned to Sevak Lal in a no-nonsense tone, “Now that you have seen the video, will you please tell all about it to your master Lahiri or do you think I should approach him?”

“No, I will do it myself. Tell me what you want.”

“Tell him that in addition to the video I have some more interesting stories up my sleeve. I know now why he fought tooth and nail to promote two of his most incompetent subordinates and pressed the performance evaluation committee to make exception to the company rules.”

“What do you mean? He looks after the interest of his subordinates and so fights for the growth of his people. I know him well. What’s wrong with it?”

“Yes, he does look after the interest of those of his subordinates who let him sleep with their wives. During the last performance evaluation round at least one manager had secretly told me about it since he was an eyewitness to Lahiri visiting the house of one of the managers who was favored by Lahiri. He keeps that video with him as a weapon in case he is wronged any time in future by Lahiri.”

Sevak Lal couldn’t argue any more. He knew it was true. He was a close associate of Lahiri in such matters.

He asked Ahuja, “OK. Now Ahuja, what do you want from me?”

“Go tell Lahiri all about what I know of him. Tell him also that I know about his impending elevation as a director on company’s board. Now in his new position he should be in a position to press for my promotion as the group HR chief at the corporate level bypassing other four HR chiefs of various divisions, most of them senior to me. The next round of promotions is around the corner. I will cooperate and play along if he agrees or you know what I can do.”

And the meeting between Ahuja and Sevak Lal was over.

After a few days of this meeting, Sevak Lal met Ahuja once more and informed, “Boss agrees with your terms. Let me congratulate you, your promotion will be announced soon. Your new title will be Group/Corporate Vice President (HR). However, as a last assignment at your existing level, the boss has requested you to formally schedule an interview with a candidate whom I want him to appoint as his personal secretary. Here is her resume.” Then Sevak Lal walked away.

Ahuja rang Lahiri this morning to check with him, “Sir, can I schedule the interview for your personal secretary the coming Friday? I have personally shortlisted the best from the candidates I have interviewed.”

(Two years later Rupesh Lahiri was fired from the company unceremoniously not for the sexual harassment or sexual assault of the female employees but for screwing up company’s one of the prestigious projects. Till the time he was seen as a vital instrument in bringing in tons of money for the company he was treated as a superhero by all despite the fact that two courageous female employees had filed complaints of sexual harassment/assault by Rupesh Lahiri to the corporate HR of the company to which even Vinny Ahuja had turned a blind eye).

Related Books

“Sensitive Stories of Corporate World” (available from Amazon, get it online)


“Sensitive Stories of Corporate World (Volume 2)” (available from Amazon, get it online)

Read many more management anecdotes/management case studies in the eminent author Shyam Bhatawdekar’s best selling books “Sensitive Stories of Corporate World”  and “Sensitive Stories of Corporate World (Volume 2)” available online from Amazon as eBooks as well as printed books.

Other Related Reading

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(Also, refer our High Quality Management Encyclopedia at:

For “out of box thinking” articles by Shyam Bhatawdekar, refer: (Out of Box Ideas)

Read other blogs of Shyam Bhatawdekar at: (Home Page for Writings of Shyam Bhatawdekar)

Books Suggested for Your Professional, Personal and Organizational Libraries (all the below mentioned titles are available as paperbacks and eBooks online from Amazon- order now)

Management, Business, Self-help and Personality Development Books

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About Shyam Bhatawdekar

35 years’ industrial/business experience as a top executive & 35 years’ parallel academic/consultancy experience in general management, behavioral sciences & technology. Areas: general management, production, human resources, industrial engineering, systems, MIS, computers, corporate planning, audit, sales/marketing. Penchant for information technology & behavioral sciences; integrated with conventional technology makes him unique thought leader. Conversant with academic theories & realities of business, fuses the two into practical approaches. Was associated with Tata Motors, Hindustan Motors, Hindustan Aeronautics & ThyssenKrupp; held top positions as highflier executive. Presently Chairman & Managing Director, Prodcons Group associating with 250 organizations; providing management & I T consultations & conducting seminars/workshops. Been a faculty for IIM’s, TMTC, Railway & HAL Staff Colleges, Symbiosis. Speaker with 35000 hours’ experience benefitting more than 100,000 people. Published 35 articles in Economic Times, Indian Management & Computers Today. Authored 27 books. Invited as key speaker in seminars by AIMA, HRD Network, NIPM, QCFI, CSI, NPC. Widely traveled. Education: Engineering & Management.
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