Man about town

When our pitch failed to impress the CEO


The CEO lost his cool and said, “what are you talking about?” FILE PHOTO | NMG

Things in the office have not settled. We are still haggling about numbers and the CEO is not making it any better. In all fairness, the HR manager did a good job of running the technical committee though we ended up working for many late nights. One morning, she showed up with a bandage on her head and I asked her, “what happened to your face? Is it Corona?” She seemed nervous as she responded and said, “nothing to worry about?”

I did not think much about it until a few days later when I eavesdropped on two tea girls. I heard them talking about the HR manager, saying how she was involved in some accident as she left the office at 2am. I could not help overhearing as the tea girls were rather loud and they seemed oblivious to the fact that I was in the office before my usual 7am time.

They went on to discuss how the HR manager has so many issues including, “losing her husband to the maid and having a child with special needs.” I was very pleased, for the tea girls finished their conversation without noticing my presence.

A few days later in a meeting, I noticed that the HR manager looked really frazzled but seemed to have prepared a very good presentation. The team discussed the presentation at length and made some suggested changes which she happily incorporated. After that we had to decide on who would make the presentation to the CEO. A number of us were of the view that we should all present to the CEO and justify our position and views, but the HR manager was adamant and said, “I can handle it on my own.” She was so firm in her view that we reluctantly agreed to let her present.

A few days later, she went in to make a presentation to the CEO. I could not help but notice that she had done her hair differently and was wearing a power suit. I complemented her and told her, “you go ace it, you look good.” We expected our feedback from the meeting at around 10 am so imagine my shock when at 9.30 am the CEO’s PA called me to head into his office.

When I got there, I was shocked to find all other members of the team. From the looks on their faces, I could tell they were equally shocked to be in the meeting. The CEO spent 20 minutes giving us a lecture about how he gave us a “brief and we did something completely different- your output is horrible.”

He went on to lecture us about how we were making him look bad and how he could possibly not share what we had done with his bosses. I was feeling a bit perplexed by all this and so I spoke up and said, “perhaps we could go through the presentation and you can tell us what we need to change.” He then told the HR manager to beam it on the screen. I noticed some reluctance on her part, but she finally beamed it. We were all taken aback-it was not what we had worked on.

Some elements appeared similar, but it was clear that the HR manager had made some changes. I was trying to decide what to say when one other manager spoke and said, “this is not what we agreed- what did you do to this?” The CEO lost his cool and said, “what are you talking about?” This manager gave the full story about what we worked on and what we had agreed. I noticed a few managers were appearing to side with the HR Manager and say, “there are only a few changes.”

The CEO looked at us and said: “I do not care who did what, I am going for a meeting, when I come back, I want a presentation that has legs- not this rubbish.”

None of us had a comeback to this.