Friday, July 20, 2007

Lawyers and professionals

For some reason my husband left the following article on the desk-top.

Why are lawyers miserable: want a list?

I read it and had a good chuckle.

I could identify with all that misery and money mentioned in the article.

No, I was never a lawyer. I was worse than a lawyer back in Singapore. I was a management consultant, and more specifically, a change management consultant.

While working with what was one of the top Accounting firms (we were an off-shoot of their 'Management Information Systems' off-shoot) it was not unusual to clock 80 hours a week. On days when a deadline loomed, we worked 'back-to-back' and managed to clock 100 hours.

We were fastidious about time-sheets and time-keeping. It was part of our 'company culture', so it has to be true. It meant working from 8.30am to a minute before 12 midnight (because the doors locked electronically at midnight), seven days a week.

We would take a booked taxi (waiting for us at the bottom of the office block) home, shower and sleep for few hours and were back at our desk at 8.30am sharp. Often lunch was taken at our desks. In desperation sometimes, we often sent out the tea-lady to buy food from the hawker centres.

The money was good. The money was very good. So very good that we had no time to spend it.

It became clear to me that this was not the way to live the rest of my life.

I shocked the establishment when I left without a job to go to. I had had enough. My father had died and my financial committments were significantly reduced.

That put my CMP (Country Managing Partner) in a sticky position. Normally staff leave for better jobs and opportunities and writing their 'exit emails' was easy. Siew-Peng? She's going to sit at home doing nothing.

Immediately there were fears that the other staff would become suspicious and wonder -- or be brave enough to now wonder aloud -- what went wrong? What is the real story behind her leaving?

Already there were clear feelings that the unearthly/ungodly hours we had been working were not sustainable. Our mental health and family life (if any) were suffering. My own gripe was that when I got back to work after cremating my father, I was put to work for such long hours instead of having someone else take my duties while I was still grieving.

At that point no one in the company had lost a father, and did not understand how I felt.

I was also on the wrong side of the political divide which meant that a promised promotion did not happen. So while I was made to design the architecture for a new computer-based training programme because I was "most experienced" at doing the job (and I was good, I know), I was also denied a promotion because I didn't party with the right people.

I had a series of 'exit interviews' (more than most other leavers) in which I told everyone what I felt was wrong with the company. Guess what? They listened. When I next went back to the office to visit some time after, lots of checks and balances had been put in place to ensure 'work-life balances'.

I don't know how long these lasted.

Still, it's good to know that my resignation left a positive impact on the working conditions of this particular company.

Back to Organic-Ally.

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