Jackie Harper

by on November 28th, 2010
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Jackie Harper, President and CEO of TechToday Incorporated, had the annoying habit of calling mandatory and unscheduled staff meetings. If someone didn’t show or if anyone dared to complain, everyone paid with mandatory 7:45AM meetings for the next week, with no exceptions.

Today was no different, as the corporate team filed into the smaller of the two conference rooms. The Executive Vice President of Operations, George Daniels was already seated at the conference table and taking notes. Jackie was pacing the floor and noticeably counting her employees as they took a place at the oval conference table. Satisfied that everyone was there, she tossed her long hair and began speaking.

“We have a meeting with the Department of Defense, today at 2:00PM. TTI is in the front-running for a huge, unsolicited requirement for a four year contract – and these people are ready to drop it right into our laps! We need this contract, and if you don’t think we do, you can go home now.”

No one accepted her offer to leave, so she continued.

“I want this to be the most important day of your life. I want everyone’s office spic and span; desks organized… I better not see one messy desk when I take them on the tour of our offices. Do you hear me, Mike and Frank? Do you understand me, Gloria and Bea?

I know these people and they are very critical when it comes to choosing their contractors. I want this contract and I don’t want any glitches. I don’t want any screw-ups, I want PERFECTION! Do I make myself clear?”

The rest of the morning was spent cleaning off desks, polishing them, editing the drawings and notes on individual white boards to make them look intelligent and impressive. Then there came the period of combing hair, freshening make-up and changing into crisp and formal business attire. Each employee in the corporate office was required to keep a set of clothes, proper business suits, on the premises at all times. TTI paid the weekly dry cleaning bills. When every work area was perfect and everyone was flawless, the employees of TTI gathered outside the large conference room for a last minute briefing from Jackie.

Rosie, the Receptionist, went into labor.

First her water broke, and then she screamed. Someone said that this was Rosie’s first pregnancy and she was just scared. When Rosie screamed, Corporate Accounting and Human Resources screamed too. Someone said something about dialing 911 to get an ambulance, at which point, Jackie Harper, President and CEO of TTI proceeded to shapeshift into an enraged demon-woman.

“Nobody, I mean nobody calls 911. Our clients will be here any moment, and I will not put on a side-show and lose this contract.”

Jackie bolstered Rosie at the waist and started towards her office.

“I’ll take her into my office and put her on the couch.” She called over her shoulder as she walked with Rosie. “Someone try to get her husband on the phone and tell him to get here now. When he comes for Rosie, they can sneak out the fire door without being seen! Somebody mop that water up off the floor. Gloria, you sit at the reception desk and greet the people when they arrive.”

“I have to give that Power-Point presentation,” Gloria said, “I can’t sit at reception. I don’t even know how to work the phones!”

“Well, figure it out, Gloria! The client comes first! The client butters both sides of your bread and mine too! You will be a team-player on this one, Gloria!”

Gloria was the one person at corporate who became extremely offended and often ballistic when she felt she was being treated less than the strong independent professional woman she perceived herself to be. Everyone pretty much knew that Jackie had made a mistake in trusting Gloria to sit at the front desk. No one dared say anything to the contrary. The corporate team of TTI tried to hide and make themselves look as invisible as possible. The team scattered. Human Resources went to gather information packets for the client. Business Development went to the supply room to stock up on dry-erase markers. Tech and Security went to test and confirm that all connections in the conference room were operational.

Everyone pretended not to notice the smoke coming from Gloria’s ears as she took her place at the reception desk. Everyone pretended not to hear Jackie’s melt down when Rosie’s husband could not be reached on his cell phone. Apparently, he was out of the office and not expected back until after 4:30. No one in his office knew how to reach him otherwise.

Every few minutes, Rosie screamed.

At precisely, 1:59 PM, the elevator doors opened and first wave of the Department of Defense Federal gurus gingerly stepped out the doors and walked towards Suite 230; TTI. Their leader was a buxom woman in her fifties, with a large smile. The rest were close behind, having come in separate cars. George met them at the door with a warm welcome and put his legendary and impervious charm into overdrive. He introduced the gurus to Gloria and told them not to hesitate to ask her for whatever they needed. He ushered them into the conference room and told them to make themselves comfortable.

George left the conference room and grabbed Bruce, “Bring in the Coffee Pot and snack trays. I’m going to check on Jackie. Keep the door shut, Bruce. This conference room is sound-proof and no one will be able to hear Rosie screaming. Kim, come with me to help Jackie and Rosie. Katie, watch Gloria!”

The rest of the Federal gurus arrived and were quickly ushered into the conference room, before Rosie screamed again.

There is one person in every office, one individual in every group who possesses the knack for bringing out the worst in a situation. That person walked out of the conference room and up to the reception desk. His name tag simply said “Carl”. He handed Gloria a stack of papers and said, “I need twelve copies of these, stapled, right away.”

Without missing a beat, Gloria pointed down the hallway. “The copy machine is in the second room on the left. I’m sure you’ll find everything you need.”

Carl glared at Gloria and pointed. He leaned in to Gloria’s face and lowered his voice to barely more than a whisper. “But I just told you to do it, girly. I don’t want to have to tell you twice.”

Katie leapt across the desk with the accuracy of a ninja. She grabbed the papers with one hand and nudged the soon to be annihilated client back towards the conference room. “I can get that for you! You just go and enjoy the refreshments and I’ll bring the copies to you. We’ll be starting soon.”

George came back down the hall and whispered to Katie and Gloria. “Jackie said to start the meeting. She’ll monitor from her office and will come down as soon as she can.”

Fully trained and rehearsed, TTI began the meeting with George directing. He was witty and charming, and proceeded to capture the hearts of the Federal gurus, one by one. Next, he introduced Gloria who came in from the reception area while Katie went out to cover the phones.

Gloria slid into her presentation like the professional that she was; attitude gone and portraying a win-win spirit for TTI. Bruce followed up with his technical development presentation.

All presentations complete, George announced that there would be a 15 minute break and then TTI would be more than happy to answer any questions. As if on cue, a team of paramedics came down the hallway and went through the reception area to the elevators. Rosie; calm and quiet, and holding a baby, was being wheeled on a stretcher. At this point, everyone had questions.

Shortly after that, Jackie came out of her office; her hair and make-up, flawless. She introduced herself to the Department of Defense, and apologized for not attending the first part of the meeting. George quickly jumped into damage control mode.

“See folks, it isn’t every day that the President and CEO of a corporation has the opportunity to respond to an emergency and deliver a baby. Jackie is one in a million!”

The Federal gurus broke into applause, and TTI broke into applause. Everyone waited for Jackie Harper to speak.

“The President and CEO of a company is only as good as her team of employees. I’ve been blessed with the best.”

She glanced across the room at Gloria, “And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

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