Wednesday 26 December 2012

Get a Life

Some people (usually women) would consider it a sad fact of my life, that gossip magazines bore me to tears. I've just flipped through someone's copy of OK magazine and neither know nor care about 99% of the people covered. The remaining 1% tempts me to protest: "Leave them alone!", as blatant speculation about members of the Royal Family's private lives kick off another round of unfounded rumours.

Why do gossip magazines sell? What drives our celeb-mad culture? It can't all be down to teenage girls searching for their identity, finding someone to idolise and emulate. My theory is that it is similar to the appeal of soap operas: women living life vicariously instead of going out and seizing it in both hands. To me, an obsession with the soaps/gossip mags speaks volumes about living in a fantasy world, waiting for Prince Charming to sweep them away from their dull, boring existence. When will they grow up?

I reckon I'd grown out of all that before my 21st birthday. I was a nurse and a singer in a semi-professional choir. Life was full and busy. There were days when it felt as if we were living in a soap opera; so much drama was occurring. Dealing with the ill and their families during the day, then living the university chorister life by night. Going to parties after finishing a late shift, getting 3 hours sleep and working the early shift the next day (even then, I wasn't much of a drinker so I was inevitably sober). Singing with major orchestras, well known conductors and soloists.

It was intense. It was fun. It was living life to the full. And it taught me that living life second hand, through a tv soap or reality tv program is not living life at all. Live life first hand, in the now, experiencing every minute. Seize it with both hands and chase your dreams. Live your adventures don't just watch them.

Friday 7 December 2012


Cheers.  Such a simple word to say but one with so many meanings.  The British use it as a toast when they clink their wine glasses together, presumably derived from the old toast "be of good cheer".  They use it to say thank you, ("Cheers!" I said to the man who held the door open for me in Glasgow today).  They use it to informally sign off emails when "Kind regards" is too formal to convey the level of friendship involved.

Today, at lunch, we used "Cheers" to say "Thank God that's over and didn't it go well?" when we clinked our wine glasses together.  We'd survived our first quarterly forecast review with our new Bigger Boss and it was far less traumatic than we'd expected.  Seriously, at 10.30am, we were expecting the worst:  some unexpected, unprepared-for question that knocks you sideways and results in a Sir-Alex-Ferguson-hairdryer blasting from the Bigger Boss. 

It didn't happen.  No difficult question.  No hairdryer moment.  Instead the meeting was relatively convivial and reasonably relaxed. I doubt all these meetings will go that way, but it was a good start.


Saturday 1 December 2012

All change, please. All change...

Work-wise, the last month has been a bit of a whirlwind.   At the end of October, I had an email from my Commercial Director, "In view of the recent announcement....[blah, blah, blah]...".

"What announcement?" I replied, ignoring the rest of the email.  (Curiosity should really be my middle name.)

He phoned me.  One of the PTB's* was about to announce that our Business was moving from one of the non-geographic UK regions to the other.  Since Finance sits outside the businesses we look after, that could have all sorts of consequences, ranging from business-as-usual to redundancy for me and the members of my team.  While he certainly didn't want the latter to occur, not belonging to the business means that our fate was completely out of his hands and he couldn't control it.

Hanging up, I turned around to see if my boss was at his desk then went over and dragged him into a meeting room, demanding if he knew what was going on. "I'd heard a rumour this was going to happen..." he told me but, as far as he knew, nothing had been finalised.  He'd take it up with his boss (who's responsible for the finance teams of both regions).  Big Boss was due in our office tomorrow.

The next day, I stalked Big Boss's usual desk.  When he hadn't arrived by 10am, I asked Boss whether he was actually coming in.

Errr.... No.... Boss had got his days mixed up. 

However, this wasn't something I could leave alone. It wasn't just about my job or future - I have four people reporting to me who needed to know whether or not they had jobs, preferably before any official announcement was made or any gossip had reached their ears.  Had Boss and Big Boss discussed it? 


Big Boss's response could be summarised as "if it ain't broke, don't change it".  So business-as-usual, then. We'd be moving to the other finance team and I'd have to report to another financial controller.  We broke the news to my team. Two days later, I spoke to my new boss on the phone.  Definitely business as usual.  I'd keep my team, keep the projects that I look after, and keep my management accounting responsibilities.  (Actually, I'm not sure even now that New Boss knows about my projects.)  On top of that, I get a shiny new job title:  Finance Manager.

I broke the news to my (relieved) Commercial Director, "Sorry - you're stuck with me", and we set about determining how life would work in our new world.  Tuesday's business trip was about that:  meeting the new management; working out who are the influencers; going over the budget and other numbers with my new boss and trying to figure out whether we're providing all the information they want from us in the format they need.

Our next big hurdle is Friday.  Friday morning, we'll be back in Glasgow and up before the new region's management for our rolling forecast review.  Keep your fingers crossed for us, please.

- Pam   (Oh, yes.  And that announcement?  It was finally made this week, over a month after the whole process started.)

* Powers that Be