That is my story and I am sticking to it.
I can honestly say that I have never had a problem or issue finding a “job.” Having been in many different management positions and working as an administrative professional for almost 20 years, my skills are so wide and varied that it is almost impossible to have a lack of work, projects or opportunities unless one chooses to take a little much needed time off. In addition, I have been extremely fortunate to work in or with great organizations in which I have had the chances to showcase my abilities – some I didn’t even know that I had. I can look back on these challenges and laugh or chuckle now, but at the time, I just knew that I said “Holy Crap” so loud in my mind that the person in the next cube must have heard me. We have all done it at one time or another in our career. In your mind, you just know “they” can see you sweating.
Baptism by fire…..
May I have water, please?
One particular instance comes to mind. I was brought into an organization to serve as backup to the President’s assistant. Of course, I had a small group of my own of about 60 or 70 individuals in marketing, sales, R&D, and new business that I was really excited about collaborating with from the creative aspect, but working with the President would be great as well. I just didn’t expect it to be so soon. The change occurred just three short days after my hire date. The President’s assistant made the decision to leave and one of the task left behind, along with seventy thousand dollars of un-submitted expenses and a stranded VP in Asia without a working company credit card, was an offsite event just six short weeks away with the only thing being fully completed was the signed contract and the deposit on the hotel. Thank the universe for small favors – I think.
One of the things that I found out about myself in my career is that I am very resourceful. Having been raised in a military family, I have developed a skill of quickly accessing/adapting to a situation, in addition to finding out who and where my resources are and making fast work out of assembling a team or core group that will work well together. The last thing is realizing all will work out, most of the time, if “you” just get out of the way.
Opportunity is knocking…..
Do you hear it?
Well – the first project was to get the stranded VP back on line with the company credit card. After a few phone calls and the submission of expenses, the card was reactivated and the show was back on the road with him returning to the states some three weeks later. (I once had to re-route and reschedule this same VP while he was in mid-air on another trip to Asia due to a natural disaster, but that is another story) When I finally had the opportunity, later that day, to open notebook that was given to me by a member of senior management I was shocked and awed by what I found. There, in the neatly bound book with all the pretty dividers and labels, was a signed contract, a confirmed deposit for mere $500 to hold the hotel for the event in question and nothing else. Not even an attendees list. After metaphorically banging my head on my desk for several minutes, I told myself to “just breathe.” This was a golden opportunity, right? I didn’t have to work within anyone else’s guidelines or boundaries; I could prove to the group that interviewed and hired me that I could indeed do more than tweak a spreadsheet and polish a presentation. Again, I cannot stress enough how important asking questions and building those relationships can be. Since we could not change the date of the event or the hotel, for the next five weeks I requested budgets, drafted communications, cleared timelines for pre-event work, solicited restaurants and vendors, interviewed speakers and consultants as well as making their travel arrangements, made catering selections, shopped for supplies, created logistical drops, maps, tables, advised and revised agendas, and even managed to sneak in a birthday celebration complete with cards, cake and ice cream for an unsuspecting attendee all while fulfilling the work that I was hired to complete. Remember, we had only been working together for six weeks.
Don’t ever judge a book by its cover……
Upon arriving at the hotel, I discovered that this hotel was not a “full service” accommodation. So much for not working within any one else’s guidelines. Did I mention earlier that it is very important to ask a lot of questions? After talking with hotel management for five weeks, it was never divulged until my arrival that we had no in house restaurant. Well whom have I been communicating with all these weeks on the menu? That is correct, no chef, no kitchen, no staff…….oh my. After speaking with management, I was assigned two attendants for the week to help me out, one of which was eight months pregnant. AHHHH! These two women were the best crew I have ever had. They were with me every step of the way from 5 am to some times 1 or 2 am the following morning working on request, breaking down and setting up rooms, changing out equipment, rigging cables and on some days standing bleary eyed with me on the balcony overlooking the river watching the sun rise with a steaming cup of coffee in hand. To say the event went off without a hitch is an understatement. It went off so well that no one knew we didn’t have extra help or a kitchen until the following year in planning the same event.
Always, always say thank you….
As I sit here today writing about that experience I am truly grateful for that opportunity and yes, the challenges that I had; but what stands out the most were the connections and the time that I spent with those two women that became my make shift crew. They made the biggest impression on me in that they didn’t know me and really didn’t have to go beyond their scheduled time to assist me, but they did and our friendship, some five years later, is still intact. Although I have moved on, they still send emails or occasionally phone to find out when I might return. I found my own personal way to thank them for their assistance and hard work which might have sealed the bond, but I like to believe they think of me in the same way I see them – as angels sent in my time of need.