Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Full of airheads" - the past week at work

Monday

Planning my work for the week took nearly two hours (I did other things as I organised my tasks for the days ahead).  Director Vijay Singh has been critical about the amount of time marketing projects are taking, so I am careful to involve him in the planning so he can see the lack of co-operation from the other managers in the Institute.  Especially the backsliding by Campaign Manager Keith Chandler.

The latest campaigns are targeting professional associations.  We are not really looking for a response.  It is enough that the material is tacitly accepted (which involves labour-intensive personalisation).

Lunch with a friend at the Sycamore Hotel. 

I had to work late to clear outstanding tasks.  When I left the office the business estate was absolutely silent.  The award-winning buildings standing like model exhibits in an architectural show.

Tuesday

Vijay Singh warned me that tomorrow's joint marketing meeting would be "rough".  Apparently opposition has been building to the demands I have been making on the other managers.  As these demands are in response to Vijay Singh's initiatives it is disappointing that he is not giving me more backing.

In the afternoon a fatuous meeting with a delegation from Sweden.

Wednesday

A big feature of my working day is the sudden request for information.  I was wrong-footed a number of times in the first weeks.  Now I have learned to anticipate what sort of questions are going to be asked.

The joint marketing meeting was held in the afternoon starting at 1pm.  We sat round the table in Vijay Singh's long office - Campaign Managers Keith Chandler and Callum Smith, prissy Alec Nussbaum from the Institute's "sister organisation", and Peter Whitgift from the Birmingham office (aged late fifties, grey-haired, thin lined face, black-rimmed glasses, black suit sprinkled with cigarette ash, wary eyes).  It was not a good-tempered meeting and I defended myself as best I could.

6.30pm by the time we finished.

Thursday

During the morning a meeting with Vijay Singh.  He wanted to know what I thought of the joint marketing meeting and the people involved.  I get the impression that he doesn't really know how to control the management team.

Friday

To the "sister organisation" in London for a series of briefing meetings with various departments.

Vijay Singh had warned me that the organisation was "full of airheads" but we needed to keep them on our side as they provide so much of the Institute's funding.

The offices are in a utilitarian 1970s block among red brick Victorian terraces in Earls Court.  Quite a performance to enter the building through "security".  Head of Publications came down to collect me, and I followed her up several floors, numerous security doors opened with an electronic pass.  Each floor held about fifty people, crammed into little cubicles.  The workforce overwhelmingly female (but the senior managers mostly male).  The female employees are either young and professional or middle-aged and do not need to work (this was said to me several times).

After talking to Head of Publications I went into a meeting with the Editor of the organisation's magazine.  She was in her late forties yet seemed to be clinging to her teenage years with peroxide hair, improbable clothes, laboured use of teenage argot.  She had a Mancunian accent and all the time we talked she fidgeted with a packet of cigarettes - she was entirely caught up in her own world and did not seem interested in anything I had to say.

Finally to the Head of Policy & Research, an elderly American woman with a New England accent and a surface geniality and amiability that masked an absolute refusal to co-operate in any way.  We discussed in a desultory fashion various possible research projects, although it was made clear to me that none of them would get off the ground.  As the meeting came to a close she gave me, with unmistakable malice, a huge heap of research data.

Night had fallen by the time I got home - bright slither of moon in the clear midnight blue of the starry sky.

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