Beyond the cloud…
Hilariously narrated by Alexy Jacob, an experience where he encounters the grace of God in a difficult challenge at work.
It was the time “cloud computing” was starting to gaining momentum in Software industry, and the time I had already missed an opportunity to work abroad as the project was put on hold. One day, the head of the Cloud Computing division in my office told me about one of his projects that was being escalated by the customer, and asked whether I would be willing to travel immediately to Belgium to complete its implementation. Although he reassured me that the team here will support me wholeheartedly, I replied that I had very limited knowledge in cloud computing and might not be the right person for the job. Enter our senior manager, who just happened to pass by! As is the wont with us managers, he started a motivational speech wherein he categorically and unequivocally concluded that as “Alexy has already managed similarly escalated projects in the past, he would easily manage this project as well” – so there you go, easy as a pie, you see !!!
In truth, I can’t blame our senior manager fully – as I myself have used this technique before, of motivating people before sending them on very difficult projects. As if this was not bad enough, I was later told about the head of the project in Belgium (let us call him ‘Raja’) – a man who was ‘famously infamous’ for his aggressive ways. ‘Hold on guys, I have had a change of mind’ – well, too late Alexy, the company has already started Visa processing and you can’t change your travel plans now.
After my first meeting with the team and the customer, I was convinced that the situation is ‘scene contra’ – i.e, irredeemable – well, so much for optimism! Lots to learn in a short period of time, which was even difficult to memorise, let alone understand. Compared to this, my twelfth grade organic chemistry (which I had categorically declared at the time as the most difficult subject in the world) was a cake walk! Being a good Catholic, let’s just say that it all sounded very Latin to me!
So I went to God and sought his help to get to grips with the situation. Praying for His wisdom and grace, I finally landed in Belgium. What I had heard about the project head, ‘Raja’ before getting to Belgium paled in comparison with what I went away with after meeting him – he was like a real Warlord (‘Raja’ in Hindi), always ready for battle and weapons galore. I didn’t even have much cooperation from the customer side, because of some of their internal problems. Through all this, I now had to complete the project successfully. I pulled out my last weapon – during my childhood days, the nuns at school had taught me that praying with the rosary can help face problems. The team in India also supported me and together, we tried our best.
Fast forward a few weeks – our project ‘Go Live’ Day has come. My team had been doing things since morning, but we just couldn’t get the server for our cloud hosted website up and running. The time is now 9.30 at night, and still we were in the same situation. We had contacted many of the experts we knew, and still couldn’t find the reason or the solution. Eventually, I told Raja about our failure to complete the project on time. Although I would have now to give an explanation for our failure at multiple levels of management, I was more worried about the team, who had been burning midnight oil and working very hard towards this day. I asked my mom, wife and a few close friends to pray for us, and again asked God to fill us with His knowledge. The team restarted the server multiple times, and like a miracle at about eleven o’clock at night, everything started working out of the blue, and the website was up and running. I still don’t know what happened or how it happened!
The project went live on the same day as we had committed – a moment where our failure paved the way for success. In the words of a famous cricket commentator, a hilarious booba-chika-waawa moment. The team in India and Belgium were overjoyed and everyone was over the moon – some were jumping, others dancing. Those were moments of madness, filled with joy. Raja also started jumping, overjoyed – of course, because of my weight he didn’t lift me up, otherwise he would definitely have done that.
He hugged me and told me, ‘You are the man and you did it for me ‘. Pointing up my hand I told him, ‘No, it is He only who did it’.
I understood that our God is also a good software engineer. Back in the room I couldn’t sleep. That night was a very special night in my life, the night I saw God beyond the cloud.