I had a job from September, 2006 that was haunting me through one of my weekends. I had to organizationally chart one company that has about 3000 people in it total and they wanted it fast! Real fast! Big job, but you do the numbers...
The headquarters location (which is what they wanted) has 900 people in it. This I learned from Hoovers and later “confirmed” by one of the company’s representatives (someone in MARCOM – they can be SO helpful!) MARCOM stands for Marketing Communications, for those of you who don’t know (and I didn’t, at one point in my career!) and usually contains the real ChattyPattys in an organization - the outward facing signposts. Clicking on the Hoovers link to their website I was also able to view, in one convenient glance, all the company’s locations – twelve of them spread around the country. In addition to the headquarters location, they wanted me to org chart two branches – one with 200-300 people in one building on three floors (I learned this from one of the “contacts” at the company you’re going to read about below) and about 100 at another location in the same state as the headquarters.
All told about an 800 name job – some departments they had no interest in. What they did want was me to completely org chart the following:
Home Office Management
Product Development and Management
Operations - Raters, processing, billing, etc
Yes, it’s an insurance company for those of you who may be guessing. Which one? My lips are sealed. I can tell you this is for an M&A due diligence. I love these jobs. They’re fascinating puzzles to put together.
I started on the phone bank the week before. I had 300 or so names and numbers recorded but no titles – I figured I had several hours of phone time in total before someone in Security answered the phone at 3 a.m. on Monday morning when I picked the job back up. “Someone in security?” you ask. Yes, someone in security.
“Officer Gil –may I help you?”
“Yes, Officer Gil, I was trying to reach someone in the Operations department...”
“They’re gone – it’s Labor Day weekend and it’s 3a.m. here– they won’t be in ‘til Tuesday 9 a.m.”
I knew all that - what else did he think I had to do on Labor Day?
“Oh.” I know he can hear the disappointment in my voice followed by the flattened silence.
“Maybe I can send you to their VoiceMail – who do you need?”
“That’s the problem, Officer Gil, I don’t know!” I slightly wail, my voice inflecting on the “know”. “Do you know who’s in charge of that department?”
“Uhhh...I think Harry Helms is still over that department – he usually comes in early - I see him here sometimes as early as 5 a.m. – that’s when I usually leave!
“You work the graveyard shift?” I inquire.
“Yeah, but it’s not such a graveyard around here – these phones go all night – people having car accidents mostly – they can be pretty panicky!”
“I bet they do,” I think to myself about the phone activity.
“Pretty panicky? And they think you can help them?” I ask further. (I’m trying to find out if he has access to a computer.)
“Yeah, they think I can connect them to someone who can – all I can do is put them in someone’s VoiceMail – maybe I can do that for you – who’d ya’ say you need?”
“I don’t know, remember? You think Mr. Helms is in his office yet? What’s his title?” I quickly divert.
“Har...Mr. Helms he’s the boss - I think he’s a VP. No, he’s not in – it’s a holiday – it’s Labor Day.” I can hear a slight resentment in his voice.
“Oh, yeah, you said that. Sorry – do you know who else is in his department?” I gingerly coax, sounding confused. Actually, I am a little - I’m not sure of my footing just yet – it sounds like Officer Gil has been there long enough to call people by their first names, though, so I’m going to press in this direction.
“Do you know anyone else in his department?” I hold my breath.
“Well, yeah, let me see here – that dept would be called ‘Ops’ – right? I have a directory here – let me see if I can find someone else,” he answers me. Seems he’s forgotten it’s a holiday.
“Your directory – is it a hard copy?” I boldly ask.
“Yeah – 36 pages, alphabetical – here’s one - Cindy Peters – she’s the Operations Manager – you want her?” he asks. It’s my turn now.
“You think she’d be in? It’s Labor Day,” I remind.
“Oh yeah, you’re right – she won’t be in.”
Now what I’m going to tell you next you may not believe. This is how it happened and this is how it’s happened (in a related context) too numerous a number of times to guesstimate before. Believe me when I tell you this is a true story.
“Is there anyone else listed? I need the entire department,” I confess.
“Yeah, everyone’s listed - that department has a lot of people in it – maybe a hundred,” he says.
I take a deep breath. I let him hear me girding my loins. “Can you tell me who they are?” I boldly go where probably nobody’s gone before with him. He can hear in my voice that I mean business.
“All of them?” he asks me, surprise registering in his voice.
“All of them,” I command.
“Well, let’s see (I hear paper riffling) – you got some time? I don’t have to do rounds again ‘til 4...”
“All the time you need,” I answer.
“We’ll have to do this page-by-page,” he warns.
“Take your time,” I encourage.
And, I kid you not, he paged through the entire directory, 36 pages of it, in about 45 minutes. He gave me 101 names with titles – all of them in the “Ops” department. I’m going to say it again. I kid you not. It happens like this and it happens frequently. Sometimes it takes enormous amounts of time; sometimes it takes enormous amounts of nerve. It rarely takes luck. It always takes preparation and organization. I know you’re thinking, “He didn’t ask why you needed this?” No, he didn’t. If you set the call up right, if you approach the tarmac correctly, if your delivery is aligned - your landing will be smooth and unfettered.
Do they ever ask why? Yes, they do. I watched a couple food shows over the weekend about how they make some popular foods – chewing gum, pork rinds, beef jerky. All these products were made by different companies and the show took you through the manufacturing process of each product. It was really interesting and at every company, though they showed you the process and gave you a lot of information about the product, when they were discussing some portion of the process and/or the special spices, the Company Representative who was conducting the “tour”, said something to the effect, “This part of the process is proprietary and we cannot tell you”.
Do you have to lie? You don’t have to. There are enough instances where they won’t ask you why you want what you want and those instances are more than enough to allow you to make a very good living. But back to the story...
“I have to make my rounds now – you can call back if you need anything else,” he tells me.
“I can?” I ask incredulously.
“Sure –call this number, though...” and he gives me another number to call. “Call in about a half hour,” he advises.
Stay tuned for “Part II - The Next Call” coming next Saturday night!
doggedness noun; The quality or state of being stubbornly unyielding: bullheadedness, hardheadedness, mulishness, obstinacy, obstinateness, pertinaciousness, pertinacity, perverseness, perversity, pigheadedness, tenaciousness, tenacity, willfulness.
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