Shantanu Naidu graduated from Pune University in 2014. Armed with a degree in mechanical engineering, he started working at the Tata group as a design engineer. One evening, when he was returning home from work, he saw the dead body of a dog lying in the middle of the road.
“I knew that I had to do something. So I called a few friends and designed a collar which had reflectors on it, so that drivers can see the dog from afar. The next day, we went around and put these collars on the stray dogs,” Shantanu Naidu told Humans of Bombay.
“I didn’t know if it would work, but when I woke up the next day, I received a message saying that a dog had been saved because of the collar. It felt amazing!”
Naidu’s initiative got attention after it featured in the Tata group of companies’ newsletter. Soon, demand rose for the dog collars, but he was short of funds. This was when his father gave a suggestion that would change his life. “My dad asked me to write a letter to Mr Ratan Tata, since he loves dogs too. I was hesitant at first, but then I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ So I wrote him a handwritten letter and forgot all about it,” Naidu said.
Two months later, Naidu received a signed letter from the iconic industrialist, in which he said he wanted to meet the young employee. Naidu met Tata at his office in Mumbai. Tata introduced him to his dogs and said he would fund his dog collar venture.
Soon, Naidu left India for his MBA at Cornell University. “But I promised him that once I finished, I would dedicate my life working for the Tata Trust... and he happily accepted my request,” he told Humans of Bombay.
After he returned to India, he said Tata gave him a call, saying, “I have a lot of work to be done in my office. Would you like to be my assistant?”
“I didn't know how to react. So I took a deep breath, and a few seconds later said ‘Yes!” Naidu said.
Naidu has been working as the deputy general manager at Ratan Tata’s office for over three years, since July 2018.
“People my age have a hard time finding the right set of friends, the right mentor and the right kind of boss. But I can’t believe my lucky stars that I found all of these humans in one superhuman named Mr. Ratan Tata. People affectionately call him Boss, but I like to call him the ‘Millennial Dumbledore’-I think that name suits him the best.”Last month, Tata was seen in a viral video with Shantanu Naidu, as he celebrated his 84th birthday. Naidu clapped and sang a birthday song for his boss, patted him on the shoulder and fed him cake.