Leaders need to be resolute and demonstrate high spirits
Prof. B.K. Dhup
Designation: Former V.P/Director – HR, Corporate Sector, currently Leadership Consultant & Leadership Assessor with K.P.M.G, Lee Hecht Harrison, Thomas Assessments, Associate Consultant- HR with Global Management Xperts, a div. of Midas Consulting Inc. USA.
⭐ I am Prof. B.K. Dhup, Former V.P/Director – HR, Corporate Sector, currently Leadership Consultant & Leadership Assessor with K.P.M.G, Lee Hecht Harrison, Thomas Assessments, Associate Consultant- HR with Global Management Xperts, a div. of Midas Consulting Inc. USA.
⭐ My qualifications are B.E., M.Tech ( Management & Systems), I.I.T.Delhi, PDDPM&IR, Diploma in Labour Laws, Certified CometencY Mapping & ADC Expert, Certified Career Counsellor, Certified LIFE Coach, and Certified D.M.I.T expert.
⭐ I am also a Certified Trainer – T.T.T. from MESCP – BOSCH.
⭐ I have over 40 years of Corporate Experience followed by 12 Years of Teaching Experience as a Professor – HRM/L&D/STRATEGIC HRM & Others in a number of prestigious AICTE Approved Institutions like FORE School of Management (FORE), New Delhi Institute of Management (NDIM), Visiting professor at Management Development Institute (M.D.I.) and others. After this, I started working as a Freelance Consultant with K.P.M.G, Lee Hecht Harrison, Thomas Assessments, and Global Management Xperts a division of MIDAS Consulting Inc., USA. As a Life Coach and Career counselor I helped many of my students and Corporate executives in all around better performance, more self-confidence, and positivity in pursuing their Careers by making them understand their strengths and the Strategies they need to develop to succeed through Coaching. My long Industry experience came in handy in sorting out a number of student-related problems like discipline and positioning themselves as competent and confident professionals.
⭐ I am also a recipient of the National Award🏆 as best Professor – HRM and best Behavioural and Soft Skills Trainer for the year 2012. The award was given by 4 important bodies namely Headlines Today, Stars of the Industry Group, World HRD Congress, and World CSR Day. I was also given a very prestigious
⭐ “Excellence in HR Award -Indian Achiever’s Award” in 2020 by Indian Achiever’s Forum.
My story is really not a made-up story but a real incident that proved to be very inspiring for my colleagues, Juniors, Workmen, and even some of my seniors.
Way back in the 1970s, I was working in a Steel Plant, Bokaro Steel Plant then in Bihar now Jharkhand. I was at that time posted in Blast Furnaces Department as a Furnace♨️ charge and Controlling Manager. Blast Furnaces are critically important for producing Liquid Iron which is cast into INGOTS ( Liquid Iron is Solidified into rectangular blocks for ease of transportation). These Ingots become raw materials for Steel manufacturing in a Steel Melting shop.
The event I am going to share happened in the Blast Furnace and it goes like this ……….
One of the mornings while on duty in the Blast Furnace, me and my Russian Counterpart, Mr. Mironov came to know that the Gas sampling technician was absent as he was not well. Collecting Gas samples from the Blast Furnace top is a very specialized and tedious job that requires specialized skills and experience. Normally no one else is authorized to collect gas samples.
Considering this issue and the fact that a Gas sample is necessary to be collected without fail as it helps the correct movement of the furnace which is critically important to ensure good quality liquid Iron of the desired composition is prepared. The furnace movement is controlled by trained technical personnel under the guidance of a specialist Metallurgical Engineer, in other words, the furnace In-charge, (me in this case).
Here it is important to explain the characteristics of Blast Furnace Gas (B.F.Gas)
B.F. Gas gets formed when raw materials like Iron Ore, Coke, Limestone, and Dolomite are fed into the Furnace from the top of the furnace. Hot air is blown from the bottom under pressure. There is a reaction between hot air and the raw material as it slowly descends. Hot air under pressure keeps the solid materials hanging and slowly the level goes down as the solid raw material gets converted into molten Iron.
The B.F.Gas goes up and goes out through the off takes ( 2 circular pipes at the furnace top). Before it leaves the Furnace, there is a small circular hole in the body of the Blast Furnace top. A hollow pipe is inserted in the circular hole by motorized operation. The gas gets collected in a specially designed rubber bladder. After the gas sample is collected, the pipe is withdrawn from the Blast Furnace and the cover seals the circular hole electrically.
An important characteristic of B.F.Gas is that it is highly poisonous. Even small quantities of B.F. Gas inhaled by anyone can be fatal. So it is important to ensure that there is no Leakage of B.F.Gas. At a later date, a sizable number of people lost their lives in Bokaro Steel Plant because of B.F.Gas leakage.
On that fateful day, I and Mr. Mironov started for the B.F. Top where the gas sampling machine was erected. A blast Furnace is a huge metallic structure height ranging from 200 to 300 feet depending on the Capacity of the Furnace.
We collected gas sample bags in which the gas sample was to be taken. We could not locate the Gas mask or Gloves which were mandatory as they would save us from inhaling the gas. We could not contact the Gas sample collector on the phone so we had to take an instant decision – to manage without the Mask and Gloves.
We started and went up the stairs to the top of the Furnace. Mr. Mirinov was a very hefty pleasant individual always carrying a smile on his face. He could pick me up with one hand, he was so strong.
Once we reached the place Mr. Mironov pressed the button for sending the gas sampler pipe into the shaft where B.F.Gas was blowing at high pressure. The gas sampler rubber bladder was fixed on the nozzle for filling it up with gas.
The lever was operated which would permit the gas to flow in the pipe and fill the bladder. We filled 4 Bladders as was customary. So far so good but the problem started hereafter when the motor for withdrawal of the pipe would not start. We could not leave the pipe inserted in the Gas shaft because under pressure gas oozes out from small crevices and carries with it small molten iron ore and dolomite pieces. So if the process gets delayed the Gas would spread and kill whoever unknowingly inhales the gas.
There was no time to go down in the Furnace and report the matter and seek help. In those days, there were no Mobile phones and a Landline can’t be kept in very hot surroundings.
So the only option for us was to somehow take the pipe out and close the chute to ensure that there is no leakage of GAS.
As a last resort, we decided to hold our breath, run to the pipe, and pull it out by force or hope that the repeated push from us will result in starting the motor for extracting the pipe.
First Mr. Mironov took the turn, held his breath, and ran to the pipe end for pushing it out with his bare hands. Mind it by now the pipe was blistering hot and we were not having gloves.
Next, I went, held my breath, and ran to the end from where it would be possible to apply full strength and pull it out. The moment I held the pipe my hands started burning but I held on and applied my full strength but the pipe did not move at all. Like this, we took 7-8 turns and applied our full strength. By now we had given up hope and the sight of so many people losing their lives flashed in my mind.
By now our hands and faces were totally burnt because small particles of red hot iron ore, dolomite, or Coke were oozing out from the crevices where the gas sample pipe had entered the B.F.Stack. We became black with blisters on our faces and hands but we did not give up. Then suddenly Mr Mironov could get the pipe to move a bit after which we slowly jointly pushed the pipe out of the hole and could operate the cover to close the opening.
We were so jittery and thanked our stars for helping us survive the debacle. Slowly we walked down the stairs and reached the Control room of the Furnace. There everyone was shocked to see our sight and came running to us.
We drank 2 full glasses of water and sat down nursing our wounds. Our hands and Faces were in a total mess. My frontline hair was burnt and half of my scalp was visible. Similar was the condition of Mr. Mironov.
While we were sitting in the control room, my big boss, the head of Blast Furnace Complex, came to the control room and asked us why we took such a big risk. Anyways whatever was done was done. The boss told me to get the dressing done and come for reporting the matter and explaining our deed the next morning.
I was shocked as to how a person could be so callous and ignore our wounds and not allow us to take rest for at least a couple of days.
But our boss was not moved and wanted us to be available the next morning.
We went to the Hospital, got bandaged, the medicines were administered and were told to lie down for a couple of hours so they could evaluate the damage and advise the next course of action.
We were told by the Doctor to take rest for 2-3 days, get over the shock, and then go to work. He had suggested medicines to be taken for a week.
I and Mr. Mironov both congratulated each other on our miraculous escape. I went home and my wife cried looking at my burnt and disheveled face.
By the next morning, I was feeling better because I had gotten over the shock.
Discipline was deeply ingrained in my mind and I could not think of disobeying my Boss, so the next morning got a lift from my friend and reached the boss’s office. He welcomed me and said to Mr. Dhup, “Such incidents could happen in anybody’s life in some form or other”. He told that’s why he had called me to work because otherwise I and my wife would keep thinking about the incident and feel bad.
I went to the Furnace and shared the incident details with my officers and workmen. I had a very close association with my co-workers. We respected each other and were happy to be working in a healthy team culture and environment.
My wounds healed in a week’s time and the incident became a memory.
There were a few Learnings for me and my co-workers :
➡️ Never take your work casually. Follow all rules and regulations meticulously. If we had followed the guidelines📝, we would have been better equipped to deal with the calamity.
➡️ Effective Teamwork is important. Me and Mr. Mironov were together and ensured total teamwork🧍🧍. Then only we could survive. Even if there had been the slightest lack of consonance and cooperativeness between the two of us, the results would have been catastrophic.
➡️ Come whatever may, One should never leave the work half done.
➡️ Conscious effort made always yields results.
➡️ It became an example demonstrated by my co-workers and they appreciated it and were highly Motivated. So it became a “Leaders lead by example” case.
➡️ Never take anything for granted, be totally prepared and equipped to deal with any unexpected eventuality.
➡️ Make Discipline your Guru Mantra. My boss appreciated my sense of discipline and put our exemplary effort on record. We (Me and Mr. Mironov) were given an Award by the Management.
➡️ Leaders need to be resolute and demonstrate high spirits. I often remember this event and take pride in the manner in which we tackled the situation with herculean resolve and spirit✨.