In a bid to justify my monthly stipend which basically covers my transportation and lunch for the month, I have set up a meeting with a marketing manager today. I managed to extract the contact out of another elusive contact whom I’d been hounding for weeks. It gave Mr.B joy no less to see me being proactive in sourcing a contact for his business. Now, this gives me some sort of epiphany.
How sensible is it to go risk your health selling someone else’s business just so the person can pay you enough to live on? Now I have plenty of respect for Abigail who started her business long before we were out of school. I also envy all the trips she gets to take while sourcing new business- she sends me pictures. Sigh, this is exactly the kind of life I didn’t want for myself- pushing paper across the desk and staring at the computer screen till my eyes glaze over in boredom.
I prepare to print my proposal but then I realize that I can’t explain most things written on it. I didn’t want some snotty-nosed know-it-all putting me on the spot asking me questions I can’t begin to fathom. So I started to edit it, using simpler yet professional English unlike the PhD variety employed by Mr. B. He asks when the meeting will be and I reply, “10 o’clock”.
He says, “It is 9:00 am already, will you get there in time?”
Can I see the future? “I’ll be on my way soon. I’m just changing up a few things”
“You should have done that yesterday when you confirmed the appointment,” he scowled.
It’s hard not to roll my eyes. Know all. I print out the proposal and present it to him for his signature. He takes the time to go through it and grunts about the changes I’ve made. I have to explain that I feel we have to be less generic with this particular proposal so I merely emphasized services we could deliver considering we are a start-up with no REAL experience!
The good thing about this job is that I get to use Mr. B’s car. Can you imagine what it’ll be like to show up for meeting with important managers smelling like all the roads you’ve been on? I’ve had to receive stale smelling marketers at my desk, flustered from the heat and hustle of the streets. The driver Samuel was quite efficient, not at all chatty so I could look through my papers and prepare my self for my presentation. I usually sit in front but because I wanted to read I sat at the back. Imagine small me, in the owner’s corner of a
something- I’m not a car fanatic so I don’t know their names. Anyone who sees me will imagine I’m being paid one serious money sha! Toyota
The traffic jam to the Island was longer than I anticipated, coupled with the fact that the Third Mainland bridge was closed for construction so everyone had to use the same alternative routes. Needless to say, I got there terribly late, and the guy was a bit pissed at first but he managed to hide it when he saw how big and brown my eyes were– hehehe! Who says you can’t use your womanly wiles/charms in business, why do think you have it at all? Why do you think men allowed women into business?
I sold him my song and dance. He was the bank manager (BM) so he said all he could do was arrange for me to have an introductory meeting with the Corporate Communications Manager (CCM) of the group who was just across the road from his office. We set off across the road with him slowing traffic down for me; I, acting like I don’t cross expressway every other day- I had to keep up the front, never bring out your leg on the first meet!
The building we entered was, well a tad old. Alright it was decrepit. A real pit, I couldn’t believe this was the Corporate Communication offices of one of the biggest companies in the country. I mean, further down on the same street, the head of the group had built a huge monument to himself in the name of a building with an Ox sculpture in front. How could this be any of his offices? The stairs would have creaked had they been made of wood I’m sure. There were cracks on the terrazzo floor- TERRAZZO!
The office we came to was no better, it was large but it still looked cramped because it was overflowing with stacks and stacks of files- FILES! Have they not heard of computers? Ok, what about cabinets? Who has offices where they stack files from floor to ceiling? About six people were scattered around, huddled behind desks also cramped with the stuff. A woman at the far right was shouting over her the mass on her desk to another man at the far left in Yoruba. The man yelled over his and so the exchange continued. We were barely acknowledged as the BM ushered me into his colleague’s office.
You’d imagine the boss’ office would be a far cry from the exhibition outside but… nope, it was pretty much the same. The CCM was tall and thin, his jacket hung on his shoulders either because of this or it was oversized, not sure which. He asked us to sit after evacuating the heap of papers from a chair. I introduced myself, company and did my song and dance all over again. The meeting was brief. He rather brashly informed me that they already had people providing these services; all brought in from
America, UK and . Highest quality- Could I see? He showed off one of their portfolios for me to see. So the only thing I and my mediocre company could do was to package ideas specifically tailored for any one of the companies within the group. He in turn would re-package it and put his own spin on it so that it would be sellable to the Boss because nothing gets to the Boss without his stamp of approval. In layman terms – if that wasn’t clear enough already- he would ensure our proposal is passed along as long as we know what to do for him after it is approved. South Africa
I smiled all through his rendition and thanked him when he finally shut his hole. I was only too glad to be out of the old, musty office when I stepped into sunshine again. The BM saw me off to the car explaining how the CC Manager had a lot of respect for him because he always got them out of financial jams when they needed emergency funds over the weekend whereas other BM’s would tell them to wait for due process. So I had nothing to worry about,
“Just get your proposal ready and it’s a done deal since I brought you in.”
Oh, why thank you, that is so reassuring. “Thank you so much for your time. Have a good day,” I said.
“You too,” he said with a glint in his eyes, sizing me up and down. Boy, if you only knew…
On returning to the office I find that Mr. B is in another room eating. I passed on to our office pretending not to notice him. At my desk I pulled up a proposal I was working on for a juice company. I inserted the name of the BM’s sister company accordingly and attached as a mail to Mr. Iyke for his graphic magic. I hastily typed the notes of my meeting with the CCM, printed a sheet and dropped it on Mr. B’s desk. I logged on to Facebook and began to comment on people’s photos. Enough work for today…