2005, when traffic in Bengaluru was not as buzzing as the 7.ai operations’ floor, our team leader came rushing and called for a quick team huddle. In a couple of minutes, he drew a kind of scary picture in our minds of an internal audit that would happen that day. All ten of us in the team were just a few weeks into the organization and his description of the audit sounded somewhat similar to an Income Tax raid! He prepped us by asking mock questions regarding our work, company policies, the statement of direction, and company values. Though we had a session regarding the 5 values during our induction training we had just considered them as a ‘good-to-know-information’ and never had the faintest idea that these 5 values would be stamped on our memory in the years to follow. Most of us could remember ‘Results’, ‘Teamwork’, and ‘Ownership’, as the trainer had given us a hint to quickly remember the values – R-T-O. Someone from our team in a feeble, unsure tone mumbled ‘Transparency?’ and we had 4 out of 5 correct. The team lead gave us a minute to recollect the 5th one but as none of us could, he said it was the second R, which was in fact, the very first and the most important of all 5; the beginning of everything- ‘Respect’!
Contrary to our expectations, the auditor who came was a friendly and pleasant lady. She knew we were new employees and asked us a few relevant questions and seemed to be happy with our responses. Just when we thought everything was over, she pointed a finger towards me and asked the last question, the answer to which was running non-stop, like a broken record, in the back of my mind from the time the audit started. My heart skipped a beat, the mind suddenly went blank but from my mouth, like 5 gunshots, came out the 5 golden values starting with ‘Respect’. We cleared the audit that day!
2015, as I walked towards the podium of the HUM annual event, to receive the ‘Values at Work’ trophy from Sir Michael Moritz, I took a trip down memory lane to the days I had by-hearted the 5 golden values to survive the audit, the years that followed where, I would understand the depth and importance of each value, how interdependent they were and how it helped to strengthen my personal standards and character.
I always believe that ‘Values’ are carriers of the company’s vision and knowing what I stand for and living by them has made me more accountable and empowered than ever before.