A day in Frankfurt

It was early morning on a Saturday, and I walked to Erlangen Bahnhof. The morning was excellent with a clear sky, except for the noise of an occasional car on the road. My spirits were high, and I looked forward to the day. I was in time for the 5:32 am train to Nurenberg. As I reached Nurenberg, the IC train to Frankfurt arrived on the other platform. The two-hour journey from Nurenberg to Frankfurt was pleasant. The compartment was empty, though it was a Saturday morning. Though I had a book to read on hand, I peered outside from the window. The outdoor landscape and the view of small towns and churches were breathtaking. I felt good and happy.
I got off the train and started walking towards the engine. Mr Heuer was waiting for me. Heuer was six feet tall with a goatee and a warm smile, wearing a crisp blue shirt and matching trousers. He waved at me from afar and extended his hand as I approached him. We exited the station and walked toward his car. He was warm and affectionate, though the cigarette smell was coming through as he talked. He checked with me about my train journey and quickly briefed me on the day plan. We stopped for a quick breakfast at one of his favourite cafes. We proceeded to the beautiful Romerberg- the old city. After walking around for an hour, he took me to Frankfurt cathedral and Paulkirche. During the walking tour, Heuer talked about my family and the progress I am making with my visit to Germany.
He took me to a small restaurant for lunch. The owner greeted us and offered us seats across the view of the river Maine. Heuer had already spoken to the owner and set up a five-course delicious vegetarian meal for me. The lunch was continental and very sumptuous. We continued visiting other sites in Frankfurt till evening, and he dropped me at Ramada Caravelle on Osserstrasse late in the evening.
I was delighted to hear his professional and personal stories throughout the day. While I enjoyed the visit, his body language and facial expressions emanated positivity. He was soft-spoken and a walking encyclopedia of professional advice and culture- human factors in life and work. Though he was a German by birth, he was very eloquent in English. People would come first if one puts tasks and people in front of him.
Hans Dieter Heuer has been one of the great influencers in my life. I was beginning my career, and I was fortunate to work with Heuer as my General Manager.
First time in my life, I learnt that a manager could always be a good human being. He demonstrated that a lot of work is possible by listening to others. He respected everyone, and I have never seen him angry or upset. After working with him, the notion that German managers were taskmasters and complex managers disappeared. I was his point person to solve customer problems. He trusted me and gave me complex issues. I never said no and let him down in his expectations. He would always hear me out of my point of view. Once, I had to lead a team of people to install an extensive control system at Modinagar. The challenge given to me was to make the system operational in five days as Prime Minister Mrs Gandhi was inaugurating the plant. He thanked me on the last day at my guesthouse after receiving the customer’s feedback that we delivered the system before the inauguration.
He taught me a simple lesson- I should take two steps back and look at the human side before deciding, irrespective of the size of the challenge.
He remains a great role model to me as people management is becoming complex by the day. I am sure he has touched several hearts in his lifetime.
I was shocked to hear that he passed on recently after a prolonged illness.

(Photo by Dimitry Anikin: )



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Dravida Seetharam

Dravida Seetharam

Life long learner with interests in reading and writing