Organizational Culture: A Story of Okamura

Once I heard students had broken a back of a chair in a classroom and an arm of one elevator. The chair was purchased in Japan and its brand was called Okamura. The elevator is of Schindler.

Before I left work, I wrote a letter from "Okamura" and emailed it to everyone at the University. That evening, my inbox was filled with emails. Everyone thought Okamura was a student from Japan. They wanted to help her by all means.

As soon as I came to work the next morning, I sent a broadcast email to all as a Letter from Schindler to Okamura. The entire university wanted to find these two "persons" and help them. Yet I said nothing about their whereabouts.

The third day, we lined up at the entrance of the university with a bunch of administrators and introduced Okamura as the broken chair to everyone who came in. Another group met students in front of elevators and introduced Schindler to all. That is when everyone realized Okamura was a chair and Schindler was an elevator. Protecting university assets became everyone's mission for many years thereafter. 

A Letter of Okamura from Japan

I came here to serve these people. I also had a dream, just like them. But mine was bigger than theirs. I thought I would offer them a new lifestyle. My dream was about bringing novelty, sophistication, comfort and mobility to their lives. I thought if I let them live different, they could, perhaps, think big and act different.

Before I left Japan, I heard so much about them. I wanted to be part of their dream. I wanted to add to their diversity. I could have served these people for 10 years. Alas, my aspirations were cut short.  After 18 months of loyalty and service, they broke my ribs.

It hurts when someone out there can cut your dreams short with a knife. Even though my broken ribs hurt much, physical pain matters less. Ignorance, selfishness, indifference causes more pain.

I am not giving up though. I will keep going. Because among them, there are many who will bake to save a sick one. And as long as those who bake to save a life keep going, I will keep going. I will not give up my dreams just because someone can break my ribs. I will keep going.

For now, I must find a way to go back to Japan and get my ribs replaced. Even though I must depart soon, I worry much about Schindler from Germany. His story is even more unsettling….

March 5, 2014

A Letter of Schindler to Okamura

Dear Okamura,

I hear you will be leaving for Japan to replace your broken ribs. You know, they have broken my arm. Not once, several times. Their reckless attitude is simply amazing. They walk into the elevator in groups of 20 students. I can carry a maximum of 10 persons, you know. Among them, there is always an enthusiastic one who tries to sit on my arms, or hang on my arms. Can you imagine my shock?! You are supposed to hold onto my arm. My arm is not made for sitting on it or wrestling with it.

I was brought here during the construction. They put me inside a shaft and since then, I have been carrying these people up and down every single day. I have never seen what is outside there, but I hear this place is beautiful. I wish some of these people appreciated my service to them and treated me nicely. That is the only aspiration I have. I can only hope for it.

Anyways, go, Okamura, go. Go to Japan and get your ribs replaced. But do come back, please. We need you. I need you, Okamura. Don’t leave me by myself over here.

Yours truly,

March 6, 2014

Opera and University

The first oil boom in the early 20th century left Azerbaijan with opera, ballet, women's college and alike. These accomplishments were the first of a kind in the entire muslim world. The second oil boom in the early 21st century has built a world-class university in Azerbaijan. Opera was one of the biggest legacies of the first oil boom. ADA University is one of the biggest legacies of the second oil boom.

Read More

Tribute to Heroes

In 1992, I interpreted Lady Margaret Thatcher at a state dinner in Gulustan Palace in Baku. Some 24 years later, I got on a stage in Gulustan Palace and spoke as Senior Vice Rector of Azerbaijan's flagship university. More than 500 guests were in attendance. In less than 10 days, we had raised more than 1 million manats for children and spouses of those fallen in war to study in ADA University for free.

Read More

100 Years of Thought, Enlightenment, Values

2018 Commencement Ceremony was dedicated to 100-year anniversary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the first one in the Eastern world. We emphasized thought, enlightenment and values that this nation had gained over the past 100 years. Portraits and spirit of Azerbaijan's thought leaders, such as Akhundov, Zardabi, Sabir, Uzeyir...were in presence.

Read More