(reminder: these vignettes are all part of the same story, but not in chronological order. With apologies to Memento, I plan to later reassemble them into the proper order, maybe.)
Clearly the interview was for the IT lead position, Director of Information Technology. There was the HR rep, a properly dressed young lady, laughing and chatting it up, folder in hand, walking down the hall to meeting room #1, followed closely by two well dressed business people. One was an average looking middle-aged woman, attractively but professionaly dressed, a face with laugh lines and smiling eyes, carrying a satchel with what appeared to be resumes protruding. The second was a more serious also well dressed, suit and tie’d, Indian or Arab or Pakastani gentleman with nothing in his hands. He was late 20’s to late 40’s, something in that range, maybe, with a tidy haircut, with a slender body that suggested good eating habits. They made their way to the glass enclosed meeting room and sat, with HR across from the two outsiders.
All this hall walking and meeting room entering had not gone unnoticed. It had been three months since the prior Director had left the organization, retiring after 30 years of leadership, culminating in a meeting since referred to as the “Time to Turn the Lights Off” staff meeting. In that venue, Stuart (or Stu), reviewed all the wonderful things that the IT organization had done under his tenure. He referred to his leadership and the hard work of the team. It was all very positive and reinforcing. Stu HAD been successful but pressures from his largest investors had pulled away a number of very key projects. The very largest investor had been pushing for taking a number of the IT projects externally, which didn’t bode well for the organization. Stu knew this, and seemed to be sending a strong signal to staff that it was time to “seek employment elsewhere” .
Some of the staff indeed had left since Stu’s departure, but others, namely Bill’s team, had stuck around. Months went by with no layoffs or any indication of disaster looming in the distance. The exact opposite had happened; Bill’s team had found additional success with the acquisition of some very large customers. The workload continued to grow, causing some stress. The investors kept a tight handle on the pursestrings so the funding usually covered just what was needed to keep the products growing. No real research and development, which meant that Bill’s team had to use creative mechanisms to keep competitive with the outside world.
With Stu gone, things had fallen into a nice order. Work still progressed, customers were still happy. It’s as if Stu wasn’t missed at all. With the position open, a number of internal applicants had applied. Bill applied, but was dissuaded by the CEO from pursuing the position. The team needed more diversity. The IT staff was nearly all “white guys” ranging in age from mid 20’s to mid 40’s. An external influx of creativity was needed, and some dash of diversity.
“Hey man, check out the girl who’s applying for the job”, Kevin leaned around the cubicle wall and whispered into Bill’s cube. “I dunno, might be good to have a chick heading up the place, no?”
Bill slide his chair out of his cube and over to the doorway into Kevin’s cube. “Chick? “
“Yeah, I mean she’s not a chick, she’s a woman, clearly. Female carbon-based unit.”
“Now that we’ve got that straightened out, lemme take a look.” Bill slid his chair back into his cube, grabbed his coffee cup and headed for the break room. It was right past the glassed-in meeting room and would at least give him a chance to scope out the situation.
As he approached, he could hear part of the discussion.
“…with lots of experience managing complex projects”, the woman was saying.
HR asked something that sounded like “good to have a diverse management team”.
The Asian man said nothing and simply smiled and nodded.
At this point Bill realized he was walking way too slowly past the room, looking as if he was a show in his DVR playing in slow motion. The HR rep even glanced up and sort of grimaced at Bill, widening her eyes with that “get the heck outta here” look. Most people would have sped up or acted as if they had been caught in the act of spying. Bill looked the HR person right in the eye, smiled, and put his hand behind his ear, and squinted his eyes in an exaggreered “I’m trying to hear!” pantomime. The HR person politely said “excuse me” and started to stand, which caused Bill to giggle and walk quickly away.
When Bill got back to Kevin’s desk, coffee in hand, he was met with “Well? Chick in control, I called it.”
“It would appear so. Looks like some Indian headhunter guy brought her along.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Bill”, Kevin said, suddenly switching with a serious tone and standing up to meet Bill’s eyes. “That’s no planet! It’s a trap, Khan!”, mixing his movie references.
They both laughed and returned to their desks. Kevin started singing quietly the choru to Shania Twain’s “I Feel Like a Woman” while Bill supplied the appropriate “Prar-prar-pu-prar-prar” guitar effects.