hedgerow consulting

In the office today in lieu of being away on thursday. Didn’t achieve much, mostly surfed the internet for taiwan travel stuff.

I’m not there as an employee. A freelance consultant is the best description. I had to set up my own sole proprietorship company, get a business registration certificate and all that good stuff. Luckily, my friend’s office admin helped to do that. I came up with Hedgerow Consulting because…dunno, it just occured to me. Something that evokes growth, stability, ethical standards.

logotemp01

I don’t have a logo yet, will ask my niece to design one for me. I have a vague idea what I’m looking for, and I can probably do it myself but it’s good for her portfolio and she’s way more creative. It’s hilarious to google “free business logo” and see all the instant ones that can be acquired with just a couple of clicks.

For other business stuff, I have a gmail address, that’s it. I was looking into domain name registration, custom email address, MS office vs google apps. Lots of comparisons out there. It boils down to which is more important for me: email or excel. Or to phrase it differently, can I live with poorer email or spreadsheet app. Sigh, as much as I love gmail, there is simply no comparison between excel and google sheets. Not totally necessary as I have everything I need at my friend’s office. Getting a domain name and apps is more for me personally than for the business. Then again, it’s a good time to get them, and a new computer too. These are tax deductions, cost of doing business.

start at bernie’s, bbmm pokehunting

I start today at my friend B’s law firm. One day a week. It’s a small firm, only B and one associate, plus mm who is there twice a week. Two support staff and another part time intern.

I’m obviously not a lawyer but B wanted me to help with writing some marketing materials on employment related issues for a start up business. Also templates for staff handbook. Then I can help with status reports for their clients. It’s pretty low level and not that well paid. It gets me out of the flat for a day, the change of scenery hopefully will do me good.

One of the support staff also started today so everyone went for lunch together. A new restaurant that doubles as live music bar at night. Set lunches only. The food is average, the service was pretty bad. There were 6 of us. First, 5 soups came plus one main course. Eventually the missing soup came. Main courses came out randomly. Two people had the same food and one mains we had to chase and chase and chase. Worse, the waiter gave us attitude. Not going back there.

After work, mm and I went pokßhunting at a new spot. Deliberately took a long bus and were rewarded when we saw pikachu. My first one! We had a super successful evening, catching 8-9 (we lost count) electabuzzes, lots of other medium rare pokémons. Plenty of walking too. It was getting late but we stopped at a dessert place for a breather. Then go radar said there was a lapras nearby. We ran, together with dozens of people, but missed by seconds. Drat.

We were walking towards the station when we spotted other things. Found dratini, arbok, machop nearby. Took several backwards and forward before we finally reached the station. 11.45pm when I got home. But feeling quite happy. Total probably around 90 caught

new york nostalgia

I sometimes humblebrag joke that my career consisted of being sent to various places around the world to play with excel. It had to start someplace, and it was 16 years ago that I went on my first assignment to New York. As a junior intern, it was the epitome of excitement and privilege. I didn’t know what to expect.

New York will forever have a place in my heart as the city where I saw in the millenium. New Year’s Eve I was at a stranger’s roof at a stranger’s party, having gone there with people I just met earlier that day. It was a bit surreal. All I can say about living in New York was, it was an interesting experience, it’s a place where one can very easily disappear and become invisible.

My boss called me as I was leaving so I spent a good many minutes talking to her on the (then swanky) mobile in the lift lobby. My cousin picked me up at JFK and brought me to the serviced apartment I was booked in. I stayed at that serviced apartment for 2 months, then moved to my permanent place at 175 E96th between 2nd and 3rd Ave. It was the first time in my life I rented, but even with the application form filling and not having a credit history it wasn’t as troublesome as it could have been. I was a bit clueless then, and my furniture hadn’t arrived so I moved the suitcases and boxes I had accumulated at the serviced apartment on foot about 3 blocks.

monterey01outside monterey02view

Reason I chose this apartment was I liked the bright airy feel and the beautiful view over the East River. On a clear day if I looked south from my living room I could see the Empire State Building. From the outside the building was imposing and my first thought was of a large drum. There were a lot of apartments per floor however the beauty of the cylindrical design was no one had to look at a neighbour’s apartment. I tried taping a big “X” on the living room window but it was too small to spot from the street. Hee.

It was only a few minutes’ walk from the subway and shops. My weekend routine would be wake up, read the paper and go to the neighbourhood supermarket run by Spanish speaking Koreans. More shops at 86th Street were only a few bus stops away, and since it’s only 10 blocks, on a nice day I sometimes walked down there. Once or twice I even ventured up past 100th Street in the middle of the day, I kept to the busy roads so I wasn’t that scared.

I did a lot of walking in New York. Some Saturdays I’d visit the Union Square market and then walked all the way down to Chinatown. Or I’d take the bus down to South Street Seaport and walk around there. I’ve always been a bus person because I liked looking out at the scenery, the subway had no view. In those days internet was dial-up. I subscribed to the weekend editions of the NYT and there would be small announcements of where street fairs would be that weekend.

New York was the place I learnt about food. Hours and hours of watching the Food Network and some of the enthusiasm certainly rubbed off. Food was abundant, cheap and portions huge. I thought nothing of having grilled strip steak once a week. The aforementioned Union Square market with fresh fruit & veg stalls, fresh meat and even a wine stall. Visits to the big name fancy food shops like Dean & Deluca and Zabar’s were a special day for me.

monterey05living

But most of the time I stayed at my little place. I might order $20 worth of Chinese take-out, gorge and then stick the rest in the freezer. When the Razor rage erupted that year I bought one and was happily speeding from the front door to the living room window, it was a good 30ft run. There was only one bedroom so my desk was at the corner of the living room. The only thing I still have is the desk. The chair, the glass cabinet, the iMac and the (gasp) cassette player, all thrown away or donated.

monterey20plan

My assignment was supposed to be 3 years. The office was in Stamford so it was 1.5hrs by train each way every day. Once a week I’d work in the office in the city, which was at the bottom end of Broadway. My global head moved me to Zurich after one year so on 9/11 I wasn’t in NYC anymore. But I could have been.

It wasn’t long enough, one year, to live there. Took me a while to get used to it and I never made any friends. There were places I wanted to visit but I never got round to it. Fortunately in the years to come I’d get a chance to visit the US and eventually had my second US assignment to Chicago. Fewer regrets in life.

 

lunch perspective

giantgummybear201508

Lunch with ex-colleague P with mm, at a restaurant near P’s new place of work. I left the conversation mostly to them. I reminded P that 10 years ago we were flying 2, 3, 4 times a month whilst we set up the service centre. None of that anymore. She is in a role with a smaller scope, and she seems happier. Same with mm. They both had to deal with some personal health issues last year and both seem to emerge with a different perspective. May be it’s age, may be it’s maturity, life changes.

After lunch, mm and I strolled around the mall a bit. There is a display of giant sweets in the central atrium, giant lollipops, sweets selection, giant gummy bears. They even waft a sugary smell as you walk near.

equitable life compensation

Most of my career was spent at what are euphemistically called Banks That Are Too Big to Fail, ie companies that people love to hate. Before I got corrupted, I spent around a year at a small management consultancy that was based in a building shared with a pub, with a view of cows and sheep.

I participated in pensions from all the companies I worked at, including schemes from 3 countries. The only pension plan I don’t get statements from is from when I was at the consultancy. Because they were so small, they set us up with an external provider, Equitable Life. I was the conscientious sort, so even in my twenties I contributed £200 a month (the max I think) to the pension, which was a big chunk of my salary then.

My life took an unusual turn, I ended up making a career out of being transferred to various places around the world. I sort of forgot about the small pension and didn’t keep track of what was happening for ages. Somewhere along the line, I read that Equitable Life came close to collapsing due to large unhedged liabilities, was no longer accepting new business and wasn’t sure if existing policyholders would be paid. True, I only had a small pension with them, compared with people who have lost their life savings, but it was still bad news.

About a year or more ago, out of the blue, I received a letter from an entity called the Equitable Life Payment Scheme requesting confirmation of my policy details and an explanation that I may be due some form of compensation. Initially I was skeptical, thinking it was a scam, but I did some googling and it seemed to be legit:

The Equitable Life Payment Scheme was set up by HM Government to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policyholders who suffered financial losses as a result of government maladministration which occurred in the regulation of Equitable Life.

When I got back from our trip, there was a letter waiting for me from the scheme. It says that they have contacted all those policyholders it can trace and enclosed a statement on the amount of payment I will receive.

equitablelife2015

From what I can gather, the value of my pension is £5,500 but if the government had regulated Equitable Life better, or if I had invested in a comparable policy with a comparable company, my pension would be almost £7,900. The theoretical loss I suffered is £2,400. There isn’t enough money to compensate me for the entire loss so I’ll be getting £540.

It’s disappointing. Because Big Insurance was allowed to run around promising what it couldn’t afford and not subjected to sufficient oversight, we poor folks are getting a measly 20% of what the return we would have enjoyed. I know, it’s ironic, coming from someone who spent so much time at i-banks. The value of your investment may go up or down, or you can lose the whole lot, isn’t that the disclaimer that goes with every single financial product?

What I’m confused about, and I can’t find any information anywhere, is whether my £5,500 is still around. Has it been lost? Repackaged and sold? Floating around someplace unclaimed? How do I set about finding out, I don’t have any point of contact at Equitable and I’ve never received any communication or statement from them. Again, it’s a small amount compared with other people, but it’s a useful lumpsum.

Anyway, I don’t have the payment yet. Looks like I’ll be getting a cheque, which is annoying because it means I’ll have to mail it back to my UK bank. Who uses cheques anymore? Ah well. At this point, any compensation is better than none.

chalet chef dream job

chaletchef

This was on fb. It is a sort of dream job, if I had some training. A few years ago I looked into culinary schools, they are expensive. I know that lots of people dream about cooking jobs, when in reality it’s tough, low paid and with little career progression. Stil, a little café or a catering business is a sort of dream.
 

the new job

riter

The last time I went into the office was May 2012. I was then on garden leave and started my officially unemployed status 3 months later. I guess the better term is sabbatical or semi-retirement, although I’m too young to look retired. In financial services it’s not uncommon for people to retire young though.

Earlier this year, I did have some discussions with a couple of companies on the job front. One I turned down because first they had a hiring freeze and then the manager managed to unfreeze the headcount but only if it’s shared with another department. I’ve done this long enough to know that sharing doesn’t work — the EE is still expected to perform as if they are 100% in both departments, which leads to double the workload. Plus, the politics, ack. The second job was with a consultant firm, it was going well until we started talking packages and timesheets and client marketing. Not for me.

I’m quite happy to exist without a job for the time being, bumming along at my parents’ place. But an opportunity came my way, and it suits my current circumstances.

So now I’m a researcher and case writer at the university’s business school. The university is 100+ years old, and enjoys a high global/regional ranking. The position is freelance, where I work with one of the professors on a particular case. It’s paid on a per case basis too; each case can take 3-6 months to finalise but I can work whenever I like, and from home. No need to be at any office aside from a few meetings with the professor or, if the case is about a company, the company’s staff. Some case writers work on multiple concurrent cases, but for now I have just the one.

Anyone who went to business school will remember case studies. We didn’t have case studies in every single subject but they were definitely used in Marketing and Strategic Management. Harvard is the pioneer of using case studies, apparently their MBA students study and analyse over 500 cases during their time there. It’s a tried a tested method for teaching MBAs, although there are some criticism of the case study method, that it’s not suited for all subjects (eg accounting and statistics), that some cases are too old and outdated, and other methods that mix lectures with real time cases may be the way to go.

Nevertheless, the wheels of academia turn very slowly and case studies will be used and in demand for a long time to come. They have become big business, with the three largest case study publishers (Harvard, Richard Ivey in Canada and ECCH at Cranfield) selling more than 10 million cases every year. Cases are priced per student, so even at $3 each, that’s $30 million in revenue.

I’d never really thought about who physically wrote these case studies. If anyone asked me a few months ago, I would have said that they are like academic papers, right? Even though I was the one who did the experiment and synthesised those compounds, my PhD supervisor wrote all our published JOC papers, so I would assume that business school professors wrote these case studies too.

Apparently not.

Sometimes their students wrote them, but there is a whole cottage industry of case writers. So far it’s a lot of research. Trawling through a company’s website, reading their annual statements, figuring out their org structure from public information. Then there are the academic theories that the professor wants to incorporate into the case — for someone in the field like I have been, they seem to be a lot of big words to describe a small thing that I already know, but I have to remember that the students may not know these things. There’s quite a lot of writing involved too: not just the case study itself, which can run to 20-30 pages; there’s also the accompanying teaching notes, which is another 20-30 pages.

Can I make a living out of it? Not at the moment, with just one case. It has potential to become more, I hope. Already the prof I’m working with is talking about a series of cases; and then there are a couple of ideas I have that I’ll wait till the right time to pitch. There are even case writing competitions around the world with fairly lucrative prize money. Wow.

nano day 5 | work and writing

nanoguyfawkes

3675 words | 20084 words total

I signed and sent back a service agreement and spent almost the whole day researching. Because I’ve now been hired as a researcher for the business school at the local university to research and write a case study abot a large conglomerate. The service agreement is per case, so I don’t know if there will be any more after this. The morning was spent looking for background information on the company and the afternoon writing the case synopsis. It’s slow-going. I’ve never written an MBA case study before and I find I have to think about what to write and how to write it. I’m only halfway through the case synopsis.

So after 5-6hrs of internet searching, clicking around and typing what did I do for the rest of the day? I typed some more. Wrote a bit before dinner, had dinner, showered then wrote some more. It’s great to reach another milestone, 20k in 5 days is pretty good. I’m now on chapter 5 and they are putting the walls up on the house. I learned about the difference between plywood and OSB (which I typed out fully as oriented strand board every time — 3 words vs 1 word, it’s a cardinal nano rule), that 16” on center is the standard spacing between 2x4s in the frame, and the importance of studs in giving support for large windows. Paradoxically, although the walls of the house are going up, the personal walls between the MCs are starting to break down, they actually went for dinner together after work. That’s the writing for tomorrow, to write the dinner conversation and interactions.

Oh, and Happy Guy Fawkes Night!! Since nano and bonfire night will always overlap, I thought I’d combine the two and make an avatar.

marathons are good for the city

So I’m trying to pitch and write a MBA case study on the economic and other impact of holding a marathon, with focus on Tokyo, since it just joined the world marathon series. Trying out an introduction and putting down thoughts for rest of the paper.

————————————————

Joining the Super Elites: Economic and Other Impact of Tokyo Marathon Joining the World Marathon Series

wmmhistory

In 2013, only 6 years after its inauguration, Tokyo became the sixth member of the prestigious World Marathon Majors (“WMM”). The other races are: Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London and New York. These are the most prestigious marathons in the world, attracing over 200,000 participants between them. The total prize money tops $1 million, shared between the 6 races.

Marathon races have become big business, with the World Marathon Major series as the top running brand in the world. Major marathons are profit-making as well as boasting millions of dollars of impact on the local economy through visitor spending, sponsorship and increased media exposure. It is also the largest source of fund raising for many charities.

Tad Hayano, the race director of the Tokyo Marathon, wanted to join the World Marathon Majors “to promote the Tokyo Marathon to the world.” The WMM previously had rules for inclusion including a large pro and mass participation, prize money, significant news coverage and a history of 25 years or more. Tokyo Marathon was able to request for, and received an exception to, consideration of the last rule.

The first WMM Tokyo Marathon was April 2013. What, if any, were the impact of WMM membership? What will future races be like? What lies ahead for other regional marathons, in Japan and in the surrounding Asia Pacific region?

Sections:

  • growth in sports participation, focus on running and races — no of races, participation growing exponentially
  • economic impact of sporting events — summer olympics
  • impact of marathons — NYC, Chicago, London study + even smaller marathons
    • economic impact — visitors spending (NYC 2 million visitors), sponsors, vendors, positive marketing
    • charitable impact — millions raised for non-profits
    • community impact — local schools and clubs participation, volunteers
  • how and why tokyo joined marathon majors
  • possible and desired impact — prize money, sponsorship, revenue, visitor spending
  • runner and world reaction
  • knock on effect on other japanese marathons, other asian marathons

writing case studies

casestudy

One of sis’ i-school mom friends is involved in this case studies research centre where they hire people to write case studies for business schools. Pretty decent pay, about $3,500 per case if accepted. We met for drinks a few weeks ago, I sent in my CV and they asked me to go to their office for a writing test. Pick one of 2 articles and write a case study introduction, ie the paragraph or two that comes before the meat of the case. The obvious article would have been one about a bunch of bankers being sued for poaching clients but I didn’t see the teaching point for that. I worked on the other article, about “newer” (the article was dated 2008 so “new” is relative) sovereign wealth funds moving into riskier global markets and because of their size, potentially having an impact on the markets themselves.

Also had to list some teaching points. Um, okay. Difference between investment aims of different investor types. Discuss how global markets may potentially be influenced. Discuss the role of politics in government-managed funds.

The test was supposed to be 2.5hrs. I was done by 1hr; with checking and re-writing I was done by 1.5hrs.

parallel

rainbowufo

I can barely believe it. A whole year with nothing happening in terms of opportunities and work/business stuff and two things happen at the same time in just one week. It’s as if I’m either blessed or being tested. I hope the former.

busy day

doughballs02

Early start. 9.30am meeting with the consultancy. It’s been weeks since I last interviewed with them, and I had written the whole venture off. The meeting with a new director went very well. We met at a coffee shop, he had some breakfast and I tried eating a banana bread (managed 1/3). Talked for 2 hours. I’ve never heard of an interview meeting lasting 2hrs. Positive feeling.

Met mm and a colleague for drinks at a peanut peeling place. Shared a buffalo wings starter and tried to go to pizza express for dinner. We were full from the peanuts that all we could manage was one small slice of pizza, a couple of stuffed mushrooms and some salad each. Took the rest home. Lots to think about.

bbmm korean dinner

korean001

Met up with mm to see the shopfront from yesterday. Dinner at our usual Korean place — bibimbap, tofu soup, topokki. Everything quite spicy. She hasn’t been feeling well, the spiciy stuff should help, at least that’s our theory.

what next

I went for an interview with a consultancy for a role of senior consultant. I think, I believe, I have the experience and technical ability to do it. But talking to the director, it seems like they have a certain idea of the type of candidate they want and I’m not entirely sure I fit. There were 2 hypothetical ad hoc case studies and I’m not sure I gave them the answer they were looking for. I hate these scenarios where there is not enough information and I’m told to make assumptions.

I hate interviews anyway. I hate the process of selling myself, and one of the things you have to do in professional services firms is to do business development and say “yes, of course” to clients. It makes me uncomfortable. I’m not a strategist, not a pioneer, not an ideas person. Give me a problem, I’ll solve it. I’ll think of ways to help you, I’ll even be creative. But don’t ask me to butter people up, or even be nice to them when they’re not nice to me.

So, yeah. I’m not sure about this job. I went into the interview with the attitude that it doesn’t matter, if I don’t succeed it’s because of different culture. But as I came out and got on the bus, I realised that success matters more to me than I thought. I don’t want to fail because they perceive that I don’t have the knowledge of ability. Mutually deciding it’s a different fit, yes. It’s an ego thing, I suppose.

good work day

hk275chirashi

I went over to Sis’ to help her work on her book, a parent-family guide. Reading and sorting and typing. We worked for a while in the morning, had sushi lunch, picked up my niece from school then worked pretty solidly for 3hrs in the afternoon. By the time I looked at the clock it was almost 5pm. Made a dent in the pile of material in her large plastic container. Steak dinner, and a glass of wine. A good day.

move again

ldnmove001container

I had another interview with Regional Bank. We agreed that the role is really too junior and I’d be bored, although on the other hand it means an easy workload! That said, the manager mentioned that I’m more suited to another role, a “change the bank” type that sounded far, far more interesting. The only thing is, it means another move. Gulp.

interview

03reality

Went for an interview with a regional bank that the headhunter set up. It’s quite a large bank, mainly in wholesale and consumer banking but with some sales and trading. The role is quite good, although everyone agrees that I’m probably overqualified for it. Thing is, I’m okay with doing something I’ve done before, I’m not in a place where I’m overly ambitious and want to get up the career ladder. We’ll see.

cv

hkhome004study

So I finally got off my butt and sent off my cv to a headhunter. Within 2 hours I’d gotten a call back and a meeting set up for tomorrow. She has a couple of assignments at hand already. Okay, this doesn’t count the agent who contacted me through linkedin, this one is a “proper” headhunter. I’m not sure I want to get back into working mode yet, it’s been almost 10 months since I worked, and even though I’m bored sometimes, it will be tough to get back to office hours.

office day

2012hkbbpavement

Joined my ex-team members for lunch, then went back to the office with them. Chatted with my friend I for about 1.5 hours. Our financial advisor came over and went over my stuff, then went over bbmm stuff. Drinks with mm at the Marriott, a couple of glasses of wine, buffalo wings and a small baked camembert. I think I’m switching to Italian wines, I had something from Masi which was very good.

work, beer

My favorite beer? On tap? You shouldn't have!
photo courtesy flickr user Lachlan Hardy

Survived my first day back in the office. Nothing new, the usual stupidity and incompetence. Had to drag SM out for a beer after work. Went to the nearby Latino place and had a couple of San Miguels.

committee fail

autvscmt

An interesting, and true, graphic at smarterware that shows the difference between design by a visionary (Steve Jobs) vs by committee (google). Substitute “design” with “work” and google with every other company and the picture is still correct.

More and more I’m seeing the lack of vision and ownership at work, even for the simplest thing. Very frustrating.

chicago

chi004skyline

A colleague from my old chicago office was telling me about them needing someone to cover for maternity leave later in the year and she was joking that they want to suggest that I went back. Sigh. Wishful thinking.

meeting

Since I’ve been in London, I’ve stopped going to the weekly big group meeting. Today I was asked to represent our group and update them on a website that is going live later this week. Boy, am I glad it’s only once in a blue moon. It’s one thing being on the phone, it’s another being in the meeting room. I much prefer being on the phone.

department christmas dinner

Department Christmas dinner tonight, I took pictures but too dark = blurry. It was at beach blanket babylon. Menu was pre-ordered, which I’d already done so several weeks ago. I had scallops (tiny, tiny), roast turkey with all the trimmings, christmas pudding with custard. Yeah, when I made those choices I was in a traditional Christmas food mood. We had secret santa and I got an instant hyancith plant set.

bbmm at work

Drove in to work, cos of the weather and so it’s easier for mm. Showed her around and left her with her dept. She had lots of meetings and it was surreal to see her at odd times between her meetings. I got us sushi for lunch which we both ate in my office. Early night.

drive to work

When I opened my eyes this morning it was 7.02am. ARGH! I had a 8am conference call and should have woken 1 hour earlier. I got ready, but had to spend 10mins finishing paris on mw. Still, wouldn’t have made it. So I drove in. Half an hour. So why don’t I drive to work everyday? Because it costs 3 times as much as taking the “L”, and even though it was fast going in, it was a solid block of traffic on lake shore drive going home.

london day 4: meeting

Meeting continued. My part was right at the end and I got progressively more nervous as the afternoon wore on. I’m not usually like this, it’s the circumstances.

There was a cocktail party afterwards. I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I didn’t go. Went to m&s to get chicken wings, and couldn’t resist salt beef sandwich again. Should have gone running, was too tired and lazy.

london day 3: meeting

The purpose of the trip is to attend the global team meeting. The composition of the team has changed a great deal since my first meeting. I have my thoughts on how things seem to be going, and some people share those thoughts. However it’s not the way the wind is blowing, so I have to go with the flow.

Dinner was at the hotel restaurant, which was super convenient and very thoughtful of the home team. Menu was pre-selected: artichoke mousse, sea bass, raspberry dessert — safe and suitable for a group of almost 20. A few of us stayed behind to chat, and moved downstairs to the bar for a final drink.

suited up for work

A whole bunch of senior managers are here, hence the reception yesterday. It also means I’ve been wearing a suit this week, though I still cheated and wore my Timberland boots. I don’t mind wearing suits, the ones I have are pretty comfortable. My favourite is a blue pin-striped combo I got from Racing Green. Sigh, that was one of my favourite clothing stores. Am a bit chagrined when I looked online that racinggreen.co.uk is now a small store in Yorkshire, and the one that I so loved was sold to Burtons and the brand no longer in existence. Sniff.

In other news, I’ll be in London in May. Trying to find where Leroy my hairdresser has gone to. It’s been so many years, everything that I took for granted and was familiar with had gone and changed on me.

unproject

The thing I hate about project managers is their obsession with project plans, gantt charts and the continual cycle of updates, updates, updates. I’m not a literal project manager, I don’t have MS Project on my PC, I prefer to mindmap. So when our internal project committee people kept asking me to update the project costs, I told them no can do. I don’t track my time using timesheets, and if they start asking me to do that, I think I need to escalate.

b

Numerically it’s less than last year’s but everybody’s is down. Mine’s not as much reduced comparatively so I’m okay about it.

back to routine

I spent most of today with a parade of people in and out of my office. If they are to be believed, I was missed at work. That’s so nice of them to say so. I’m jetlagged so just able to function. Easing back to routine slowly.

there is no backend database

Three days of workday training complete. Lots of information to absorb. Very hands-on training. I was forever playing with the training system and doing exercises a step ahead. Heehee. The most important takeaways:

  • unlearn everything about past systems
  • challenge status quo and ingrained bias
  • keep it simple
  • everything is an object, there is no backend setup database
  • tenants
  • it all comes down to clear planning and knowing how to configure
  • supervisory org rules
  • use the search bar

i hate driving in the snow

I was supposed to be in Pleasanton CA this week for 3 days of training, but it got moved to Chicago. Or to be precise, a western suburb of Chicago. Instead of sunny weather, I woke up to 3-4” of snow, had to shovel my way out of my space and drive 1.5hrs to get to the training. Coming back was worse, still snowing, poor visibility and people driving without lights. I had to park on the street cos otherwise I’d have to dig my way into my space and dig myself out tomorrow morning. And now I’m looking outside and the snow is doing crazy brownian dancing it’s so windy outside.

I hate driving in the snow. I’m not used to it and I don’t have the right car for the conditions.

relocate for perfect job

Business site wisebread asked would you relocate for the perfect job?

The answer is: I have, I am, and I’ll probably do it again.

It’s never been for the perfect job. The first time was way way back when mm and I left London. I count that because it resulted in a near perfect job for me. The Bank was very very good to me over the course of the next few years. Those moves weren’t perfect either, and I had to take a pay cut to move to Stamford, but it was valuable experience.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t take this job with half an eye on moving to Chicago. Though it was never promised, there was always the hint. Is it a perfect job? Hell, no. Where will I go next? Hell if I know.

And that’s the issue. I was born without a country (I was a resident, we didn’t have citizenship), and so I have to innate concept of where I’m from, patriotism and all that. And I can’t project more than 2-3 years ahead, either in terms of job or location. I know where I don’t want to be, and that’s it.

It’s been hard for mm and I. I guess that if things were different wrt society, it’d have been different for us. There’s no use going down that ‘what if’ route.

work done

checkeredflag
Workwise, I’m done for the year. I went in today and all I did was read 2 emails. I went running in the gym at 10.30am, and left at noon. Gonna be out till 2010, I can monitor things via the blackberry.

So, what have I done this year at work? Can’t believe I started the year as “just moved to the Chicago office” then had to go straight into the YE08 process, functioning as the human total comp machine for 3 months. Then I got into this workday project — issue rfp, go through project committee approval, deal with other departments, run rfp, select vendor, deal with other departments again, negotiate with vendor, get a million approvals. But we are in a good shape to start next year. It’ll be a long, tough ride.

christmas potluck

workxmas0901ham workxmas0905pecan

We had a potluck at work today. Just simple food, no competition or anything complicated. Normally I’d make dessert but other people signed up for it already. So I made salmon egg roll. It was okay.

Some of the other dishes include: a whole ham, cold cuts and sandwiches, meat pasta, pasta salad, taquitos, taffy apple salad, pecan bars, fruit.

meds 4 | demo 2

I woke up way too early cos I was nervous about this morning’s demo 2. It’s at our office and I had to make sure everything was set up right — breakfast ordered, DSL turned on through helpdesk, webex invitation sent, the vendors know where to go, our people know where to go. Got to the office at 7.45am. The vendor got in at 7.50am! First thing I said to him, “early much?”

This is a vastly different product, much more web 2.0 and startup like. The people weren’t in suits, they were friendly and there is a feeling of entrepreneurship when interacting with them. I was impressed by the product.

Managed to leave at 3.30pm and drove down to the wake. It was nice, lots of family and friends. There’s a plumbing problem at the house so I decided to come home instead of spending the night. Early start tomorrow.

I’m still feeling not 100% and pretty tired. I’m coughing up some stuff so it’s less painful and dry. Still staying away from that cough medicine.

meds 3 | demo 1

First product demo today, so I couldn’t stay home. Of all the weeks to be sick, this is the worst week ever. I dare not take the cough medicine cos of drowsiness, but the inhaler seems to be working a little.

We were invited to our vendor’s office at Sears Tower for the demo, only a 5 min walk. When we walked in, we were greeted by a room full of suits! Scary. The demo was as expected, that’s what you get from the industry leader.

Bought a flower basket and drove down to Gram’s wake. The minute I walked in I knew I’d be told off, cos I’d been told to stay home and rest. But in all honesty, most people would have made the effort. It was a horrid drive down in heavy traffic and even more horrid drive home in the torrential rain. But I made it.

intense

We have overseas visitors this week from our team. It’s been an intense few days but we covered a lot. What I can say is, meeting the people face to face is 5000% better when it comes to working together. With a global company we end up emailing or conference calling a lot, but there’s something different about eye contact.