Geoffrey Tandy was a Britisher who lived an interesting life. He was all of 18 during World War One and joined the army. After the war, he took a degree in Forestry from the University of Oxford. And after that, he started work as a botanist at the Museum of Natural History.
Over the years, Tandy’s interest moved from forestry to marine biology. And he took expeditions to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and to the Gulf of Mexico to study the flora and fauna. Slowly, he became an expert in the field of cryptogaphy – the study of algae, lichens, and mosses.
When World War Two broke out, someone made a horrible mistake at the British War Office. They wanted to hire someone who was an expert in cryptography – who could help in deciphering codes. But instead, they ended up going with Tandy because he was an expert in cryptogaphy. One small “r” led to such a funny mistake.
Tandy was called back from the reserves and recruited to work at Bletchley Park. Where Alan Turing was working on the huge complex task of breaking of the German Enigma code.
Tandy tried his best to pick up new skills and to be helpful. But he wasn’t given a lot of respect. And people constantly made fun of him behind his back.
But that changed. Because our unlikely hero Tandy played a meaningful role in helping decipher the German codes!
During the war, a German U-boat was torpedoed. And after some time, a team of Royal Navy divers went and salvaged goods from the boat. There were German procedural books and navigational charts. But along with it, they also salvaged a copy of the Enigma codebook – that the Germans used to descramble the codes sent to them. The only problem was that it was extremely sodden and pulpy because of being in seawater for so long! And so, most people thought that the secrets on it were unrecoverable.
But Tandy had a lot of experience preserving wet plant specimens. And so he knew exactly what to do, to safely dry the drenched papers!
Tandy’s efforts in preserving the codebook went a long way in helping others to break the German Enigma code. And its estimated that this code-breaking helped bring the end of the war closer by at least two years!
It’s good to associate yourself with a diverse crowd. Because that is what will help you lead to new ideas and approaches. So make a conscious effort of mingling with people with varied interests.
Hire people from varied and diverse fields and regions.