“Release these payments for the purchases from Australia,” said my boss, Mr. AA (renamed to hide identity) one of the three directors, who was respected in social and business circles in the Middle East. It was a transaction of a few hundred thousand US Dollars.
I did not release the payment. It wasn’t that the funds weren’t available. We were purchasing a quantity way out of proportion to actual requirement. I was not convinced, especially since these were food products that bore expiry dates.
I was the purchases and finance manager. We had set-up a system for placing orders. Normally, the quantities for a re-order were based on a review of movement of product for the last four months, stock in hand, orders in transit and the seasonal demand. That’s how a healthy inventory was maintained without a strain on cash flow.
Each of the other directors had their own individual group of companies, other than this company. I had to be loyal to the interest of the company and not to individuals. I insisted on approval of all the directors.
The above order was large and hadn’t gone through the laid down procedure. Most importantly, it was abnormally excessive. The goods had arrived at the port and the payments had to be made immediately. Fortunately, the order was not in our company’s name. The other directors considered all aspects and did not approve this purchase.
Mr. AA was upset and had to make alternate emergency arrangements. On his return to the office, I was called in. I carried my resignation letter with me! I was expecting to be relieved of my job.
He said, “Will you join me as Chief Purchase Manager and Financial Controller of my Group of companies”. I realised discipline pays! I said I needed a week’s time to think it over. This was in 1981.
Within the week, I got all possible information about Mr. AA’s group. The information I collected revealed that every day when they closed stores for the day, it wasn’t sure whether they would open the shutters of the business next day morning. Even the staff salary was in arrears for a few months. The financial position was absolutely critical.
After a week, I went to him:
Me: AA, I accept your proposal, if other partners have no objection to it.
AA: I will convince the other partners. Have you given this a good thought?
Me: Yes, I have.
AA: What would be your terms and salary expectations?
Me: It is not relevant. If I perform, remuneration will follow by itself.
AA: Do you know the financial status of my group?
Me: Yes. I Know. Business may close down any day.
AA: You are in such a healthy company. Here, in my group, you are not sure if you’ll get a salary.
Me: Yes. I considered that. We have to create a position where everyone gets paid.
AA: I am surprised. Why? What makes you join my group?.
Me: Challenge! It is the challenge which is tempting me to accept this responsibility. The present company is healthy and wealthy and has systems which will not allow it to collapse. This can be managed by anyone. But to revive a group like yours would be a real challenge to my abilities.
AA: You are risking your career.
Me: Yes, but I am confident of reviving the company.
I joined the group. I had the support of a very capable CEO and jointly we resolved the problems. After a year or so of revival, there were a few from known business circle to seek advise to revive their sick businesses! I was with them for 5 years till the day I decided to return to India, to start my own business! I thank AA for giving me an opportunity to resolve very complicated problems and learn many lessons which otherwise, I would have missed! It was a rewarding experience.
If you see a difficult challenge, grab it. It gives opportunities to learn.
Experienced and Written By: Badri Baldawa