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Case In Point

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Ideas: Not for SALE!
Pathikrit Payne (Faculty Member, IIPM-New Delhi) wonders how people can move up the ladders of corporate success while the steps belong to someone else
It was a day when everyone at NassCorp was in a celebratory mood while busy preparing for the AGM. Much of the celebration was because of the possible announcement by the management of a bonus and a mid-term increment. In the last 3 years, NassCorp had gone through a tumultuous roller coaster ride. From being one of the most promising real estate companies to getting sucked by the onslaught of recession to almost going bankrupt, it then had another meteoric rise to become amongst the topmost emerging companies. Within the past six months, NassCorp had consistently beaten the BSE sensex in terms of returns. The good days had come again and those who had been through thick and thin with the company were sure to get rewarded. Yet on that day there was one man who was busy drafting his resignation letter. Incidentally, he was the man responsible for the magical turnaround of the company. However, he had decided to call it a day and go out to seek his destiny.

Coming from a small town, Abhay Mathur was a young man of principles who wanted to make it big in the corporate world with his dedication and hard work. Yet, call it the naivety of small-town mentality, for Abhay, life was black and white. He wanted to achieve all that he aspired for without compromising on his principles. Five years earlier, Abhay had joined NassCorp as a management trainee after completing his post graduation in management. He was not only a star civil engineer but had an incredible acumen for spotting business opportunities. And that too much before others. An avid reader, he did not consciously realise that this was not an ordinary quality. But his seniors knew how to make the most of it. In the past five years, most of Abhay’s friends had changed their jobs at least once a year but Abhay believed in loyalty, since he had seen his father working in a PSU and spending his entire lifetime committed to the organisation he started his career with. So Abhay inculcated that quality within himself, and firmly believed that his loyalty would be rewarded one day.

Three years earlier, when almost all of NassCorp’s net worth got eroded, many of Abhay’s peers left for greener pastures. But for Abhay, that was the time to show his commitment and loyalty to the organisation. He not only stuck to the job but put all his efforts in finding ways for the company to recover. It was his idea that NassCorp should venture into construction of roads under the National Highway Programme. In those days, not many companies were willing to venture into construction of roads in lieu of getting adjacent land for real estate development. But Abhay firmly believed that construction of national highways, especially the ones connecting any two major cities, would go hand-in-hand with the development of the area alongside the construction site. It seemed to him a gold mine waiting to be tapped. He went to his immediate boss, Rajesh Khurana, a senior manager in the organisation with the idea. Even before he had finished explaining his point of view, Rajesh struck it down.

Six months down the line, Abhay was shocked when news was broken that NassCorp was going ahead with the construction of three such expressways connecting major metropolitan cities and townships. NassCorp would not only be permitted to collect toll tax under the Build-Operate-Lease-Transfer (BOLT) mechanism, but would also be allowed to tap the adjacent barren lands to develop hotels, townships, medi-cities and knowledge parks. NassCorp thus started working on the roads and also the land, which it got at a very cheap price. In no time, the price of the land was soaring, thanks to the construction of the road, which was previously non-existent. In another six months, better results were forthcoming as major educational institutions, hospital chains and IT companies were willing to lease plots on those areas from NassCorp. Located away from the major cities and yet not too far, the rentals were affordable, and this created a frenzy amongst companies that were looking to cut costs in the recessionary era. Within a year, NassCorp recovered the money it had invested in the expressway programme. NassCorp top brass was so happy with this magical turnaround that Rajesh was promoted from a senior manager to the Assistant Vice President. He became the new poster boy of the company. But alas! No one found out that the idea had come from someone else’s mind.

Abhay was hurt but he took it in stride and continued to trust Rajesh Khurana hoping that he would someday get his share of credit. While on a visit to the construction sites one day, Abhay came across many farmers who were selling vegetables at very cheap prices along the upcoming expressway. Upon enquiring about this, he found that storage was a major problem for most of the perishable crops being cultivated there. Thus, the farmers had no other option but to try and recover their costs of production before the crops started rotting. It struck Abhay that with NassCorp owning a substantial portion of land along that stretch of the expressway, it would not take much for the company to develop a chain of cold storage systems along the way and then gradually move up the value chain and get into agro-processing. In any case, such a move for sustainable development along the townships would help the company do its part for the environment while taking care of the bottom line. The local population would also be satisfied. Abhay again went to Rajesh Khurana presuming that justice would be done this time around. Yet again, his idea was struck down.

Six months down the line, news came in that NassCorp was creating a new division called NassCorp Agrotech with Rajesh Khurana as its CEO. Plans were on for NassCorp Agrotech to invest in setting up a series of cold storage chains and agro-processing units. Work would start on the land adjacent to the expressway, and then move towards developing a pan-India network. Abhay was speechless but he did not give up hope. He was happy that the company which had given him his first break was gradually becoming a successfully diversified company through his ideas. He drew strength from Rajesh Khurana’s rise to the top, thinking that he too could do it someday.
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