The day of my sacking. The unexpected event that led to my hiring. Spiritual lessons here(in blue) are not just limited to Microsoft.

One usual morning, I was on my way to Caradigm, a healthcare startup by Microsoft and GE, and a place where I worked before Microsoft.

It was located in a sparkly chrome glass building right in the center of the dashing downtown of Bellevue(next to Seattle). Too fancy for a startup, but when your mama and papa are Microsoft and GE, you are bound to be born in a golden cradle! No garages or cheap rental apartments.

Space around my cubicle was quiet. Nobody was around. I thought I was early. So I looked around to see how beautifully ordinary and monotonously mundane the morning was, until, I opened my inbox. A unread mail from the CEO got my attention. Mails from CEO did not land up in my inbox frequently, so when they really did, I gave them respect.

The mail was – to put it politely like the English Parliament men – a poltergeist of a mail dressed up in a garden fairy’s gown!

I don’t remember it exactly. But I do remember the emotions flooding in my veins while reading it. To my mind, it read something like:

“My Dearest Caradigm Employees,

As you know …la da da... a sales deal planned for this quarter didn’t get through …yeah for the Nth time!... due to a poopy mistake …sales team you are so dead!... we are having to let go a few of our precious family members …Awww my Gawd!!… So our lovely employees please assemble in these two conference rooms A and B. If you are receiving this mail, head to room…

my brain tuning out by now, they may be carrying out same announcements in two conference rooms to fit all

I Love You And Value Your Work And Contribution From The Depths Of My Heart (…might as well draw heart emojis)

-The C-E-Ew!”

Windows Key + L! I bolted for room A.

The words of the mail haunted me on my way. It had expressed both sadness and an odd sense of relief, the relief of off-loading. Just like when a 23 year old moves out of their parent’s home, due to new job, and parents are both sad to see that child go, and oddly happy, that they finally have their money back to themselves!

I was late by a few minutes. The room was full. I hadn’t arrived early to work that morning. In fact, I was late! The announcement was in progress already, when I took my seat. CEO’s assistant was in room A, who was sadly doling out a list of names. You gave your assistant the job of the Undertaker? Not very gentlemanly is it?,  I thought.

In the middle of the list however, she said, “To remind you, in case you missed, these names are of the people who will be staying with us, I repeat, these names are of the people who will be staying with us and were told to come to room A! The CEO is currently talking to the rest in Room B.”

Hawwww!!!!! Holy Isht!

Why did my brain fuzz out right when it was not supposed to! I did not read which room I was supposed to be in!

Panic rising!

The joke was back on me. The CEO was doing the heavier job of the Undertaker, while sparing his simple assistant by assigning her the fairer task.

1

When it comes to choosing between two tasks

amongst you and your ally,

chose the harder one if you have more might,

spare the burden on your ally.

So I waited quietly for the list to end, pretending to look as normal as possible. My name was not amongst the survivors.

A couple of my team members who were minding the list and making sure all their team members were on it, looked at me now. I don’t remember which one of them – a senior lady from leadership cadre, or my then manager Jitendar – entered the room, and asked me as quietly as possible to accompany him/her to another private room. Finally, we 3 were in that room together. Jitendar and the lady handed the news to me in person.

“I came to know you are being let go only yesterday evening. When I was handed this news, I fought for you. I told them that another team member will be leaving us to work for Amazon in this week. His leave was supposed to be a secret until one day before him leaving. I asked them to put that person on the list of people going instead of you Vartika. But sadly, they did not listen to me and said everything has been finalized. And then I was asked to go straight back to home so I don’t break this news to anyone. I am sorry, but I wasn’t consulted on this.”, said Jitendar tenderly.

This was the first time ever that I was being let go, without even any fault of mine. I expressed my shock. “Jitendar, the thing is, I am pregnant. I didn’t tell you sooner because its too early,  I am not even three months into it. I do not know how I will be able to bear the stress of preparing and facing technical interviews in this state?”, I said.

“Oh. I am sorry, I did not know! But I will help you get your next job and conduct mock interviews too if you want”, I remember him closing the conversation by offering me all the support I needed to get through that phase.

About 150-250 of us were being let go. We were told to wrap up our work within the next two days. We were also informed to prepare our resumes, because within those final days, the big daddies – Microsoft and GE – would be sweeping in to hire the dislocated ones.

Parvati mode on! No time to grieve.

Parvati is all practicality to me. When she finds a goal, she chucks her emotions aside and makes it her life’s business to achieve that goal with as many practical means as possible. She does not day-dream. And the thing is, she gets her goal every time!

I was on a hunt now, out for my kill. I started preparing from the very first day of loosing my job. While pregnant. Pregnancy is highly taxing for body, but it oddly gives an unusual mental strength. As if a mother is not fighting just for herself anymore, but also fighting for her unborn baby.

2

Stuff happens!

Mostly unexpectedly.

But future happens in how

you deal with the unexpected.

This is how I landed my interviews with both Microsoft and GE. Thing about Microsoft is, they don’t like to be second when it comes to aggressive hiring!

I had a chat with an HR personnel over mail about scheduling the interview with some gap, after like 3 weeks or so, so I get time to prepare. I was waiting for their reply with scheduled date. Just two days after leaving, in the evening, I got my first call from my hiring manager, Shilpa, a ‘one-of-a-kind’ call I will never get again.

“Hello, Hi is this Vartika?” crooned Shilpa politely. A kid in the background made some noise. She was probably in a car driving her kids back to home, I thought.

“Yes, this is Vartika”, I said.

“Hi Vartika, this is Shilpa from Microsoft. Is it a good time to talk?”, she asked, from her voice, I felt she was smiling.

“Yes, yes, we can talk no problem”, I said, obviously anxious to impress my would-be manager.

“So I had a chat with HR, and I was thinking you know, if you could come in for a prelim round of interview tomorrow?”, Shilpa bombed on me.

Hain! I am not prepared enough. Its just been 2 days since my leaving, and an interview with the biggest employer in the world, like tomorrow! Impossible!

What have I to loose – this simple thought calmed me down in a second!

“Yes ok, sure why not, what time?” I answered. And the time was arranged.

Another call came in some time later. It was Shilpa again. “Actually, since you are coming in already, can we have 3 more rounds tomorrow itself?”, she asked.

Oh-ho-kay now! It’s her who is going for the kill isn’t it, not me! She is really pushing it…no way I am going to agree to…

“Yes sure, lets do it!”, I found myself answering finally, to shorten the awkward pause.

What have I to loose – the thought came back to me!

3

When faced with

a seemingly unavoidable choice,

think,

What have you to loose?

I walked into Microsoft campus fearlessly. Prelim round, done. Three rounds, done. I was told to wait at reception for Shilpa to see me off. But instead of Shilpa, walked in the High Command of that team, Shilpa’s manager, my would-be-skip, Ghulam Khan. He conducted another round of interview for me, saw me off, and told me to wait for their mail.

5 coding rounds of 1 hour each, a lunch round in between was also an interview. I was exhausted.

But oddly enough, I wasn’t looking forward to any sort of outcome – hired, not hired. I had done my job. I was still in Parvati mode of preparation. One interview done, lets prepare for next one – GE. I found that my preparation was already better than I had imagined. I had prepared for interviews two years back, and that knowledge was still amazingly fresh in my mind. I just had to recollect it at god-speed! This is why I could answer questions at Microsoft confidently with just 3 days of preparation.

4

Gita happened here.

Work without expecting the results.

I passed. I was offered jobs, by both GE and Microsoft. So much so I was negotiating my offer with both. I joined Microsoft and landed with a far, far better offer than Caradigm’s.

“Getting hired at Microsoft within 3 days! Wow she must be smart!”, a colleague had remarked to a relative of mine.

Well, I think it was more of a divine intervention, and I just flowed with it!

5

Divine emerges

when you least expect it,

Grab the opportunity tight

when you get this ethereal inkling!

Who knows, you might end up

meeting a Ma Bhairavi!

Just like divine intervention happened to Om Swami ji, then Sarvanand baba, when he walked out of his cave in Badrinath. He listened to his inner voice, and ended up meeting Ma Bhairavi. Ma Bhairavi, or lord Vishnu’s Nemaitic Avatar, I truly suspect, for she was nowhere to be found in Kamakhya region, and Gita says Lord Vishnu incarnates in 3 scenarios:-

  1. To protect dharma and inhibit growth of adharma
  2. To help yogis and saints
  3. To end the bad guys

Reflect on a divine intervention that happened to you, or an unexpected quick situation you had to go through, that made you braver and instilled your confidence in yourself and the divine!

P.S. In my previous post in this series, I had written I would tell more inside stories – like a blind man in coding world! – from Windows Updates team, but due to the length of this post, I would be doing that in my next post. Image art drawn by me.

Thanks for reading!

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Vartika Verma

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