I met with a VP of engineering at an automotive giant in the USA recently. I must admit I’ve rarely met a more humble and generous person than him before.
He is responsible for the deliverable of 450+ people for the last 10+ years now with manufacturing & automation as his core responsibility. I could imagine his workload and that he may not have enough time to sit through the meeting. So, to prepare for our meeting I had visited his news posts, interviews, and LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately I gathered a fair idea that there are not many overlaps between his responsibilities and our areas of expertise and was not sure why he accepted our cold invitation for an introductory session with his management team. I have met people at his level and I know that if they feel anything irrelevant they would just walk out of the meeting or ask to wrap up things quickly to value their time.
This time after a very friendly welcome from him personally as we walked to the coffee machine we had a small chat about the FIFA WC and a couple other common connections we have from our previous employments. I mentioned my hobbies, dropped a line on my aspiration in terms of contribution goals to the auto industry and also frankly mentioned that I was not expecting acceptance of this meeting for so and so reason.
He anyway shown keen interest and suggested me to present. As we were covering each topic he was noting down something. I have seen VPs in meetings usually have someone to take down notes for them, but this was a different experience. At the end of the meeting, he handed me over his notes as I asked him, “so do you see the common waters where we can sail the ship together?” His notes were full of names of people responsible for each of those areas that we had presented our work in, outside of his department. He also checked calendars and called a couple of managers he knew outside of his department to our meeting room for introductions.
I had taken away promises, praises for the work, growth plans and potential numbers after the business meetings but this was probably the best takeaway so far. Meaningful connections and a warm humanly gesture from the person at probably the highest level in the business.
Thanks Robert, as promised I am not making it public while still making it. 🙂