A few years ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Nepal with my family. Most of the time we spent trekking to and over various passes and peaks, had the obligatory visit to Everest Base Camp and generally enjoyed a few weeks in an environment where, outside of Yak-back, one’s own two feet are the only way to get from Point A to Point B.

As would be expected when trekking in the Himalayas, we passed through many monasteries and took a bit of time to experience what life is like for the monks who quietly and diligently go through life. While not what I would describe as a spiritual person, this simple respect and honour for our infinitesimally small place in the world appealed to me. The simplicity of simply doing good in one’s lifetime, in order to do more good than harm appealed and, while I’m not a believer in reincarnation, the idea of doing good in this lifetime simply “because” makes sense.

In particular, the aspect of Karma appealed. Karma is the Buddhist notion that covers the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence. Essentially the net result of all the good stuff, and all the bad stuff one does in one’s lifetime. Karma, as the Buddhists see it, also has a role in deciding an individual’s fate in future existences. Do good, and you’ll be reincarnated as a higher being, do bad, and you run the risk of coming back as a cockroach.

I’ve been noodling on the notion of Karma recently as it relates to people “paying it forward” in a business setting. Over at Albion Clothing we’ve been needing to hire someone with some specialist apparel sector experience. We’re trying to achieve the seemingly impossible at Albion: to rebuild a sector that many had thought was lost in this country. And while some around suggest we’re going to jump ship and go offshore when the going gets tough, we’re adamant that with investment, and with a focus on getting the right people into our organisation, we can make it.

And this is where the story of Udara comes in. Udara has been living in New Zealand for a few years, after emigrating here from Sri Lanka. He left his wife and daughter back in Sri Lanka in order to come to New Zealand, set himself up and eventually be in a position to bring them out also. Since he got here, and like many well educated and highly experienced immigrants, Udara has been… driving for Uber. This despite the fact that he’s had decades of experience managing highly successful apparel manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India.

I first heard about Udara from Richard Alexander over at Upper Echelon, a specialist IT recruitment agency working across NZ with both Government and the private sector. Through mutual acquaintances, Richard had bumped into Udara and, despite Udara not being the sort of candidate that Upper Echelon normally places, he wanted to help on his journey.

Richard reached out to me and clearly stated he wasn’t looking for any kind of placement fee or compensation, he simply wanted to help a good guy out and “pay it forward.”

Fast forward a month or two and Udara was packing up his belongings and making the trek from Auckland to Christchurch to come and start a project for Albion. A few weeks later he’s settled in and is doing a great job of helping us modernise what we do.

Now there was no financial benefit for Richard in helping Udara and us out – he’s an IT specialist with enough on his plate and spending time connecting a factory manager with a factory owner was outside of his swimlane. But that’s the thing, right? He did it because it was the right thing to do.

I’m hopeful that with a stable job, and with immigration into New Zealand ramping up post-Covid, that Udara will be able to bring his family here. Richard’s magnanimous offer to connect Udara and Albion might well have been the key to reuniting a family and delivering a net economic benefit to NZ Inc. A small gesture, but another step in ensuring that the Karmic balance is skewed towards the positive.

Roll on those higher being reincarnations!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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