From 1999 to 2015 my recruiting career made a major turn. I became heavily interwoven into the fabric of many different technical communities in the United States, India and China. I joined as many local and online technical user groups as I could. I had a passion to know everything I could about the technologies I was recruiting for!
I felt it was extremely important to at least understand the basics and lingo when speaking to the technologists or hiring managers during interview processes. I built many friendships in the meantime, helping many to find their perfect careers. I still hold some of these friendships close to my heart.
In 1999, I started working for a technical consulting firm in Kansas that focused on helping local companies with their technical and engineering employment needs. The owner of the firm was an older gentleman who was very involved in the everyday business. I reported to the second in command. I learned so much from the both of them. They taught me the importance of building a database of candidates, networking in the community and keeping up with that database. This is where I also learned a lot about business development and project management. I worked along side many technical people from India, some of the best business development managers in the business and other nerdy Americans. See the 1984 movie Revenge of the Nerds. My job was to work with the business development managers and then hire the most qualified people I could find for our projects; I always tried to hire locally first, then nationally, and last internationally. Hiring the cream of the crop! Then staying in touch with leadership and consultants during the duration of the projects.
There was an older Indian gentleman called Srinivas; we met at a Java user group meeting in 1999. He worked as a consultant locally and contacted me on a regular basis to see what projects I was working on; he had many connections and leads for me. I always paid him well for referrals. We built a great relationship over the years; he had an enormous amount of technical knowledge and was always willing to share it.
13 years later, I received a call from Srinivas asking me if I want to meet for tea. He told me that he had an opportunity he wanted to run by me. We met and
the opportunity of possibly leading his nephew’s international technical consulting firm sounded very intriguing to me. Srinivas had me meet with his uncle…the meeting/interview was strange; the meeting was held at his uncle’s home not far from mine. His uncle was recuperating from surgery; he couldn’t leave his house. We had a long and robust exchange of ideas about recruiting and business development needs. The next step in the interview process was to meet with the CEO of this company; then two more interviews with 2 VP’s. Their interview process was so long and drawn out I almost metaphorically walked away. I was working; so, I didn’t need the job. They finally made me an offer and it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I would be working with 2 VP’s and reporting to one. Both of the VP’s were originally from India; they were well educated and their English skills were good. After a short time, they promoted me to Director of Talent Management/Business Development. I managed the efforts of 6 offices in North America and 1 office in India. I was their first woman leader (they stated I was a member of their executive team) which was a big deal for them, it was an honor for me.
My business partners, Raja and Nikil (VP’s) and I worked extremely closely. Nikil worked in my office and Raja worked in OH. Both were always fighting for the CEO’s (Ram’s) attention; it was so clear. They both wanted what I had, which was: a great nationwide network and relationships of development managers, project managers, CTOs, and leadership names in IT and Engineering. So, both VP’s tried to spend as much time with me as possible! Just asking for introductions, there was much beating around the bush! It was quite amusing to say the least. They both knew of my contacts/connections by viewing my LinkedIn account. I had a premium account with LinkedIn which allowed me to see who was stalking my profile and both Raja and Nikil were on my profile every day! I finally called a meeting to create a strategy and plan to schedule client meetings with some of my contacts and have them come along. It was like I handed them gold nugget. We were off to a great start.
Client entertainment was at the top of their priority list with this firm. Money was never an issue! In fact, it was stressed early on that I needed to stop at no expense to treat our clients special. Only the very best single malt scotch, $80.00 a bottle wines, confections, cigars, spa days, mani/pedis, trips to the casino, happy hours on Friday nights and long expensive dinners were a weekly occurrence. Oh yes, we funded and planned client holiday office parties as well. Nikil came into my office one busy afternoon and asked me if I wouldn’t mind stalking a client at our local casino over the weekend; LOL. He told me he would give me $500.00 for my gambling and the same amount for our client. Nikil wanted to make sure this woman client liked me. Of course, I knew this would get us kicked off that vendors list if anyone found out; I didn’t follow through. Wednesdays were the liquor, chocolate and cigar run day. These would be distributed to our local clients on Friday. The trunk of my car became a wine cellar in mild weather. Looking back, I was amazed that I wasn’t pulled over for a minor traffic violation, forced to spend the night in jail.
My contacts usually accepted my invitation for lunch or dinner meetings; I had good relationships with them from years of past work. Raja, Nikil and I were now travel buddies; they wanted to meet as many of my contacts/connections as soon as possible. What my partners didn’t get was a $80.00 bottle of wine didn’t prove we could provide better consultants. I had to teach Raja and Nikil not to pounce on clients. That’s why it was hard for them to break into new accounts, they were too overbearing. They never caught on to my guidance. Hiring managers saw through this shit! Sure, they would drink a $75.00 glass of scotch…doesn’t mean they were going to give you their business. I don’t drink, I’ve been sober for over 30 years, so being in charge of the alcohol was ironic. My partners always drank with the clients; usually getting drunk during meetings! I was told before the meetings to keep all the drinks flowing (extremely important job duty), food and conversations going (remembering names and projects/technologies). Usually as the evening went on, more and more people would show up for the party. Cigars broke out! Oh my! My firm was so generous! Too generous. The funniest part of these client trips…driving Raja and Nikil back to the hotel. I would put these grown, drunk men in the back seat, make sure they were buckled in and drive snake-like while they laughed and screamed; LOL! Then I would watch them crawl or stumble to their rooms.
During a trip to Texas, Nikil and I finished early with our client meeting and I had happily turned in to my room. At about 9:30 p.m. I got a call from the lobby…it was Nikil. He was at the lobby bar and feeling no pain! He asked me to come help him interview someone. I thought it was strange he was interviewing anyone at 9:30 pm at a lobby bar. When I arrived in the bar area, Nikil was so happy to see me! He even gave a big bear hug. He said that “I was saving his ass from getting into trouble with Mr. Ram”. When I asked him what job I would be interviewing this person for, he responded while belching (which he did all the time), “for a good standing husband”. Of course, I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Being as drunk as he was, he came clean about what was going on and a few other businesses being ran out of our company; marriage arrangements and visas. It explained a few shifty things I questioned in our office. I wasn’t supposed to know about this; however, he needed my help.
At 10:00pm, sitting at a hotel bar, I interviewed a very nervous Indian gentleman for what would be the marriage of his lifetime. It was crazy!!! Talk about winging it! I found out everything could about his family, finances, education, work history, goals, beliefs, religious background and what he wanted in a spouse. It was important to him that a wife be educated, into fitness, someone who will get along with his mother and a girl who smiles a lot. While I was asking these questions this poor guy was sweating! During the interview this gentleman kept circling back on how much land, assets and money his family had and he was worth millions. He was so soft spoken, a farmer’s son, very educated; a sweet kid! In the morning, I gave Nikil my notes and thoughts about this marriage being arranged and it happened months later.
Back at the fort, the CEO’s wife (Mara) would visit the office and begin her rotation of her lavender candle. She would move around a candle from one office to cubicle, strategically for hours; it was comical. Mara also hated when any associate cooked anything in the microwave in the breakroom; she had pet peeves against smells. She sent many email warnings asking people to refrain from eating tuna fish in the office.
While working one day, I started seeing my computer being taken over by someone remotely. I didn’t appreciate this! Especially since I was more than willing to introduce my connections and I was also being used as a babysitter to my drunk partners more and more. I opened many accounts for the company; my teams were doing very well. I approached Mr. Ram and he denied anyone was on my computer remotely; I took a video of it and brought it to him.
The problem…the cat was out of the bag! I had the knowledge about the marriage arrangement and visa business. My guess is the visa business was illegal; I never found out the details. Mr. Ram now felt threatened and asked me to leave. At the time I felt so angry!!!! I was used and caught in the middle of their dirty secrets. I could have caused a tremendous amount of grief for them; instead, I walked away. I believe in Karma. Nikil and Raja are no longer in their roles and were relocated to a different division of the company. So, this turn in my career lead me to new experiences and skills and introduced me to a seedy business behind closed doors which dealt with international arranged marriages and fraudulent visas.