During the first 33 years of my post-collegiate working life, I found myself employed by relatively large corporations. At its zenith, my first company provided jobs for around 20,000 in the U.S., while my second employer kept over 43,000 souls busy worldwide.
It didn’t take very long for me to realize that my first company was being managed by a nefarious band of pirates and robbers. This particular senior management team were expert at leveraging corporate assets, including both labor and material, for their personal advantage.
For example, I can recall one executive’s beach house which was entirely built by the maintenance department staff from one of our larger manufacturing facilities and with materials purportedly purchased for renovations planned for that same plant.
Captain Jack Sparrow simply would not have been able to play in the same league as these guys.
Such was their myopic self-interest that they completely failed to recognize that they were presiding over a case study in the promotion of technological obsolescence. Thus, they managed to mismanage the company into total extinction within 10 years without ever experiencing even the slightest qualm.
After nine years of working there for one latter day “Black Bart” after another, I moved on to what I imagined would be much greener pastures.
And indeed, the first 10 years of my second corporate experience were blissful in comparison to my first. During those years the company was truly principle centered, exhibited a commitment to high values, and was genuinely interested in its employees.
Unfortunately, during my last 14 years there, a new senior management team discovered that those pesky “principles and values” could sometimes be impediments to ensuring their receipt of large and lucrative annual bonuses.
It was deja vu all over again!
It didn’t take long for them to figure out that reducing headcount resulted in lower labor costs which in turn increased the bottom line and with it the size of the largesse which they could so benevolently bestow upon themselves.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I now find myself working for a very small, but very profitable company. The future of this firm looks very good; even in the treacherous economic waters we all find ourselves swimming in. The bloated inefficiencies which exemplified the working environments and culture of my previous employers are nowhere to be found.
I met the CEO the other day for the first time. Unannounced and unheralded, he came walking into the area in which I work. The first thing that I noticed was that he wasn’t surrounded by an entourage of “30-something” sycophants eager to impress the headman and thus ensure their personal fast-track to “Bonus Land“.
I must say that was extremely refreshing. I’m beginning to think that I’m going be very happy here as a small fish in a relatively small pond.
I just wish I’d considered this career path 35 years ago?