“I knew I had joined a company with a heart on the very first day at work,” reminisces Diwakar Srivastava, now Vice President – Commercial at Mahindra Accelo. It was raining heavily on his first day of work, and Diwakar was drenched when he reached office, only to find no one there, except 2 peons and a driver. They were kind enough to offer him hot tea and the residence number of the General Manager to whom he was to report. “The GM was very concerned; he asked me to return immediately, and even asked the driver to drop me off at my hotel,” says Diwakar. The concern didn’t stop there. His manager also asked Diwakar to contact him in case he needed anything.
The favourable impression of that day didn’t change as Diwakar steadily worked his way up the ladder. Today, he is member of the senior leadership team at Mahindra Accelo, overseeing the entire commercials function for the company. Not as apparent, other than a walking stick he carries, is his disability – a prosthetic leg.
Fighting the Big C
In 2001, Diwakar was diagnosed with high grade bone cancer. The day he got the histopathological report confirming the diagnosis, the Managing Director called Diwakar into his office. He assured Diwakar that he need not worry; he could avail all the help he needed. That comfort and reassurance were just what Diwakar needed as he faced the most challenging period in his life.
For the next ten months were an unending cycle of chemotherapy sessions, CT scans, blood work, and accelerated stress in case the cancer spread. After each round of chemotherapy, which lasted five days, Diwakar had to take a day’s rest to recover. He would report to office on the 7th day to put in eight hours like everyone else. With the cancer spreading through his right leg, the doctors had to remove the entire tibial bone and insert a prosthesis. Diwakar was now coming to office on crutches.
Compassion – from top down
The management’s compassion extended to the rank and file as well, as Diwakar remembers gratefully. Two of his colleagues would help him get up and down to his office on the first floor, every single day. Without that help, Diwakar couldn’t have made it to the office. Mahindra Accelo also helped him shoulder the medical expenses for his treatment, removing one of Diwakar’s worries. “If it weren’t for the company and my colleagues,” says Diwakar emotionally, “I wouldn’t be here narrating this story.”
Diwakar also credits his wife for being his staunchest supporter. “She stood by me through every single up and down in my life,” he says. Even today, he considers her his protector. “Without her, I cannot do any physical activity outside.”
Diwakar’s medical condition has had an impact on his daughter as well. As a child, she had seen her father’s suffering. “With her father often in hospital and her mother by his side, she was often neglected,” says Diwakar. “Even as a child, she would tell us that she was determined to be a doctor and cure people.” Today, he’s an extremely proud father – his daughter aced her MBBS entrance examination. “It’s my own personal RISE moment,” Diwakar signs off, laughing.
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