For those who have lived in a closet for the past year, there has been a nightmare raping the U.S. Markets and slinking its way around the world. As a result investment banks are not just taking it on the chin, but in the groin as well and you know what they say… it all rolls down hill.
When these companies lose Billions of dollars (thats right sports fans witha ‘B’) something has to give. Aside from the divisions who work mortgages that are usually wiped clean of all pre-existing human presence, these banks have to somehow take measures to off-set the losses. A few Billions of dollars is quite a balance sheet to balance. For the most part the most expensive costs to these institutions are people. What follows is life altering to many, literally that is occurring in every country and every industry world wide. This one happens to have been my story from almost one year ago to the day.
Being the PMO for a group of three who were tasked to deploy ITIL Processes across IT globally, I was pretty confident that our mission of standardizing processes and procedures which would remove bloat and inefficiencies from the organization had put my team in a pretty good position during the rumored “Reduction in Force” that was going to occur across the company beginning in Asia.
It was going to be a depressing day. The Reaper was going to be walking the halls taking people out for the greater good of the companies bottom line. I had to take a walk as the morning approached lunch and there was not a hint of anything going on. I had two conference calls out of the way and the clock was striking 11:00 AM. I decided to go grab a coffee.
On the way back in the elevator, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number and figured that if it was important then they would leave a message. Besides, I was in an elevator with others and I hate nothing worse than someone talking on a phone in an environment like that. When I returned to our floor and rounded to the corner to my desk, another group’s manager called to me from her office and said that one of the senior managers we work with was looking for me and needed to talk to me on the 3rd floor.
At first I was like “ok, sure” Then I realized that there were really no IT offices on the 3rd floor and aside from the small section of offices we had down there all we had was the caffeteria. I seriously thought that she wanted to talk over coffee about a pretty intense meeting we had just been discussing that morning.
When I exited the elevator I heard my name called and there she was standing there. She simply said “I need you to come with me for a minute.” That was when I knew. I followed, stunned at what I knew was about to happen, but was somehow holding on to denial. After all, I had been busting my ass across the globe for this company for nine years. I tried to speak; in what seemed to be a whisper I could hear myself say to her back “I’m one of them, aren’t I?” She just walked ahead.
She turned into an office where a young woman was sitting in one of the two chairs in front of the desk. I entered, dropped into the chair as the she went around and sat before me. With a forced painful smile she said “As you know this has been a tough year and in the current market environment, tough decisions have to be made.” I looked back across the desk and could only muster one word, “Wow.” She replied “Yea, I know, tell me what you need from your desk and I’ll go up and get it for you. The rest of your belongings will be FedEx’d to you in a few days.” Can you believe it? I asked for my jacket, bag, headphones and that damn cup of coffee I just bought before being called down. You can take everything from me, but you’re not taking my damn coffee.
She then explained that the woman next to me was from HR and she would be explaining the severance package to me as well as the transition assistance program.. blah blah blah. She asked if I had any questions or anything to say. I mean, what can you say at that point? Obviously the decision had been made, the paperwork had been completed and the severance had been calculated. Nothing I could have possibly said at that point would have changed anything. I was so stunned that all I could muster was a chuckle and the comment “Well, I almost made it to 10 years.” “Good luck” was the only response as she exited the room to continue her role as the reaper.
The HR woman started in. She was fast, there was alot to cover but she was smart enough to acknowledge that my brain had shut down and all I really heard was the teacher’s voice from Charlie Brown; “waa-wa-wa-wa… wa-wa.” My mind was going 1000 miles an hour… the kids, the house, the new house, my career, bills and on and on and on…..
When she was done, we exited the office as she handed me off to another woman standing there who took me to another office to speak with the Transition Assistance representative from an outside company. Again, “waa-wa-waa-wah, wa-wa” was all I heard. She asked if I needed anything and I could only say that I would probably be contacting them over the next few days, once my mind cleared.
Back out of that office and handed off to the escort woman who had at her desk everything I said I needed; jacket, bag, headphones and that damn cup of coffee. What happened next sort of felt like I was being raped or mugged. I was asked to hand over my Company ID card and blackberry. She said the only thing she could at that point “thank you, please follow me.” I walked back out the doors with her on my heals as she escorted me to the first floor and out the security area. I was done here. I was done in this company. Nine years and work in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and New York City gone in a matter of about 30 minutes.
The thing is, I get it. I understand what happened, why it had to happen, I’m not in the slightest bit upset about it. I had worked IT in the Financial Services Industry. Nine years was a hell of a run in an environment that is driven by the markets. That company lost 9+ Billion dollars at that time and continues to hemorrhage to this day. They had to do what they had to do. I just never imagined it would happen to me.
The sad thing is, I got out early. Since, I have probably upwards of a hundred friends around the world let go since. I was lucky. The market wasn’t as flooded as it is now. I found employment with a good cmpany. My life is moving on. To all of my fallen compatriots, good luck old friends, I hope you follow your dreams and achieve greater heights than any of us could have imagined a year ago.