Sunday, July 02, 2006

Halloween, corporate style

So here's a scary story...

Once upon a time, I took a job in Cincinnati. I liked it a lot. I had one of the best bosses ever, and it was a fun place to work.

A few years went by. The company got bought by a bigger company. I voluntarily tranferred back to the Columbus office, so we could move back to central Ohio. I became part of the parent company.

It was a total nightmare. I was told to lie to my former co-workers more than once, and told not to talk to them more than once. Red tape, politics, back-stabbing, more red tape, lying, long hours, lots of late nights, flesh-eating zombies, avian flu, bad coffee... Just not good.

So bad, in fact, that the Cincinnati office decided to essentially withdraw from the parent company's technical services as much as possible, and go back to doing things themselves.

I talked to my old boss - the one back in Cincinnati - to see if there was any way I could transfer back without moving back. It took a while, but we worked something out so that I could work from home four days a week and drive down to Cincinnati once a week.

That's where I am now with it, and I absolutely love it.

Meanwhile, there's another company that was acquired by the parent that does work very similar to the Cincinnati folks. They're based out of Dallas (as is the parent company). They decided to merge the two similar subsidiaries. Not physically - they still intended to keep both offices up and running. They've actually already got another office in Boston as well. (They're also setting up an office in Bombay, but I'm not even going to discuss the implications of that just now...)

Not only did they have a similar type of business, but they had similar cultures too. A small number of redundant positions were eliminated - to nobody's surprise - but all in all, the transition has been smooth...

...until Friday.

We had a "Town Hall" meeting. Everybody gets together and they tell us all about how much money we're making (or not making), what clients we've added, what clients we might add, what clients are going away, new hires, new policies, etc.

It started well. The Cincinnati office is still treated like a stand-alone business from a financial standpoint. If they are profitable, all is well. If not, changes start happening. Since being acquired by the parent, they've been hovering around $20 million a year in revenue. Last year was $22, but with a profit of only $100,000. Hence the merger with the subsidiary in Dallas. This year, because of a huge new client, the Cincinnati office is on target for $30 million in revenue already, with the possibility of going even higher. Profits look great. Everything is finally moving up.

At this point in the meeting, we're all feeling pretty good. Well most of us. About 35 people got the bad news 30 minutes early. Bad news? What about the great numbers? What about that big client that was responsible for the huge jump in earnings? The next PowerPoint slide went up. Right across the top, it said, "[Client X] team moving to Dallas."

Wait, what? I read it again. The VP is still up their talking, but somehow my brain is lost for a second. I read it one more time. What does that mean, moving to Dallas? Turns out, just what it sounds like. The reason given was that because it's such a big account, they want "executive level attention" on it.


So now about a quarter of the people in Cincinnati are being given a choice. If they move to Dallas, they have a job. If they don't, well, we'll see what we can do. I'm not on the list, which is good, because there's no way I'm moving to Dallas. My old boss, and a lot of my favorite people are on the list. They have ten days to decide.

The VP goes on to say that, minus this big account, we're still on target for $19 million in revenue, which is right where we usually are, so it's all okay.

He asks if there are any questions, but conveniently, lunch is served at that exact moment. He gives a half-hearted attempt to take questions again once everybody's eating, but nobody notices over the din.

So here's what nobody asked: Why did Dallas just get the cream of the crop? Are we supposed to go out and make more cream for them now? And if we are merging, why are we still talking about our numbers separate from Dallas? What business problem are they solving with this? How will this make that team perform better?

What a nice reward for all that hard work and dedication.

And the big question on everybody else's minds: Who's next?

Note to Self: Update resumé, watch Office Space.


At 7/03/2006 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of database stuff should I be on the lookout for? Eyes open, resume in back pocket, ears to the ground. Don't worry I know not to look for you down here in Oz!


At 7/03/2006 6:16 PM, Blogger Beo said...

Good luck E4. Have you seen my stapler?

At 7/04/2006 2:09 AM, Blogger Morgan said...

good luck

ahhhh stapler

At 7/05/2006 1:07 AM, Blogger e4 said...

W: Oracle on Unix. Maybe some Perl or PHP thrown in to keep me from getting bored.


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