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My Satyam experience: 'Despite the crisis we were treated well'

By Siddharth Gollapudi
February 18, 2010 11:07 IST
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The Satyam debacle hit the headlines back in January 2009. While the stock tanked and the company faced serious financial problems (all of which was splashed all over newspapers and TV screens), not much was said about the employees and their experience with suddenly having to deal with the possible loss of their jobs.

Here Siddharth Gollapudi, a former Satyam employee, shares his rollercoaster experience with the company -- from the high of beind recruited by India's fourth largest software firm to the low of possible retrenchment.

I still remember the day -- September 20, 2007 -- arguably the happiest day of my life, when Satyam visited our college (IBS, Chennai) to hire. Scores of anxious batch mates waited for the interview panel to arrive and give us a pre-placement talk. The team from Satyam arrived a good 45 minutes later. They breezed us through a very brief presentation about the company and job profile on offer for us.

A few disappointed souls (intelligent ones) opted out of the process.

The process began with a round of group discussions, fortunately for me the topic given was the one I had come well prepared for. Close to 50 students cleared the group discussions and personal interviews followed.

First to go was my close friend and then room mate Arindam. Time was passing at snail's pace that day. Arindam came out after 55 minutes and said in his characteristic style "pura puri stress interview". He looked completely strung out!

This sent a shiver down my spine...after another couple of guys, it was my turn!

I took the name of Lord Sai and walked in with a big smile on my face. About 45 minutes later I came out with an even bigger smile, quietly confident that I would get through.

It was close to 7.30 pm when the panel was done with the interviews and we were eagerly waiting for the results. The panel then started announcing the names of candidates who made it. After the announcement of a few names, the announcer found some difficulty in pronouncing a name; I knew it had to be mine, after all pronouncing "Gollapudi" for a North Indian at the first go isn't that easy.

The announcement of my name was followed by me yelling "Yes!". I stood up, looked upwards and thanked the Almighty.

Arindam's name was also announced but, sadly then and fortunately now, my other roommate Sayan missed out. Both Arindam and I were on cloud 9; we hugged and congratulated each other.

I still remember me saying to Abhinav (one of my friends), "Yaar meri life bana di bhagwaan ne."

Joining Satyam
May 6, 2008 was the day I joined Satyam as a management trainee in Hyderabad. All of us assembled at SSL (Satyam School of Learning). I must admit that it is quite an impressive building. We all completed the joining formalities and finally received the coveted Satyam identity card. I felt a sense of achievement when I wore the card for the first time.

We were all supposed to attend a 15-day induction-cum-training-cum-"whatever" programme at Satyam Techology Centre (STC) from May 8.

We needed to board a STC bound Satyam bus from Anand theatre. An hour after boarding the bus we reached STC, the green sprawling Satyam International headquarters campus. I don't think anything in Satyam can get better than STC.

It boasts a tennis court, swimming pool, gym, synthetic basketball court, snooker tables and a small zoo. I fell in love with STC for its tennis court and swimming pool.

The training programme commenced and after a few hours all of us lost interest in it. With every passing day the programme became a pain for every one. The post lunch sessions witnessed a meager turnout with people bunking sessions to for leave home early. Arindam and I couldn't muster the courage to bunk the classes so we started enjoying catnaps in the training hall itself.

A few days later all of us were assigned to different departments. Arindam was assigned to a different unit and subsequently transferred to Chennai. I wanted my office to be in STC, so that I could stay at the dorm and enjoy the club facilities but as it turned out; my place of work was in the other corner of the city. I was grossly disappointed.

May 22 was the day I began my working relationship with Satyam. I was part of a newly formed team and was very happy with the kind of work I was assigned. Ramesh, my first boss was a gem of a person, very friendly and protective. Ours was a great team; all of the teammates gelled very well with each other and soon became good friends. Office seemed to me like an extension to college.

Weekends @ STC
I don't know why, but I was fascinated with tennis. As a child I used to dream of playing tennis and STC was the place where I could realise my dream. I just could not wait to lay my hands on the Wilson tennis racquets and play on the clay courts of STC. 

I reached STC at around 4 in the evening; there was not a soul on the court. I went to the club office took the trainer along with me and started playing. The game of tennis is a lot more difficult than it seems. An hour later, sweat-soaked, I headed for the swimming pool and followed it up with a steam and sauna session. At the end of it all, I was physically drained but mentally refreshed. As a result of my weekends at STC, I was more active both physically and mentally.

That was probably the best phase of my life. I was financially independent, physically fit and mentally active. At this juncture life seemed like a bed of roses to me!

The last few months...
Yeah, life was indeed a bed of roses but, not without a few thorns that kept pricking time and again. I received the first of those pricks on January 7, 2009.

A colleague and I were on our way back to the office after a tea break, when we observed a lot of worried faces through the glass doors. We swiped in and walked into a noisy environment. We were shell-shocked when we learned that our chairman had resigned.

Without wasting much time I logged into my system to check the authencity of the news. To my horror, our chairman had not only resigned but, confessed to involvement in fraudulent activities.

Once the news broke, the stock prices went for a toss! This was the second prick (I had some investments).

That day was really tough for all of the employees. I couldn't sleep all night. The next few days were spent pondering about issues like salary and job security. The government-appointed board was very protective of the associates. Every other day we received emails assuring us that associates were the top priority.

An old proverb says hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I followed it and started looking for opportunities elsewhere since I knew my unit wasn't a revenue generating unit and people from my unit would be the first to face the axe.

Meanwhile, we continued to receive emails about associate protection and the future course of action for the company.

A takeover seemed to be the only option left to save the sinking ship. One fine day in the month of April, another company took over Satyam. This was a breather of sorts for us. All of us were now hopeful of some good news coming our way.

Good news came in the form of a sabbatical. The third prick! Close to 10,000 employees were handed out a sabbatical with only basic pay for six months. I was disappointed but I knew it could have been a lot worse.

Lots of people had lots of things to say about the sabbatical and the way the company treated us but, in my heart I knew the company treated us well by not sacking us. Any other company might have just asked us to leave and we could have done nothing about it.         

A couple of months later, I got an offer from another company and I finally resigned from Satyam in the third week of August putting an end to the bittersweet relationship.

Being my first company, Satyam will always have a special place in my heart. I still sometimes miss Satyam, more so STC.

Do you have a similar tale to tell?

Did you lose your job and get it back? Do you know someone who lost her/his job, and got it back recently?

If you, your friends or relatives have a similar story to tell, to inform readers about the lessons that you have learnt, please write to us at with the subject line 'Happy days are here again!' Your name and identity will not be disclosed unless you want it to.

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Siddharth Gollapudi