Friday, May 30, 2008

The Boss has Left the Building

Today marks the last day of my controller's tenure in the company.

He announced his resignation just 5 days ago, stunning everyone as they expected him to remain in the company but handling a different role. I already had the hunch he will leave the company based on my conversation with him last Wednesday, but I didn't expect it to be so soon. We just had a quick farewell celebration for him at the pantry. It was a rather sombre occasion as we were all so sad that he had to go.

I joined the company in 2001, but for some reason I was never interviewed by The Boss (He usually conducts the 2nd interview that time). Being a fresh graduate, I was pretty terrified of him, and I remember being very nervous when we went out for new hire lunch. I guess I treated him with the highest regard, and can't imagine how some of the staff and manager can speak so casually to him.

He was a very experienced man with extra-ordinary photographic memory. His mind and brain is like a server (if you put it that way) on its own. He's been in the department long enough to know what's going on, and yet he always said he hated Accounting. The time I really had to deal with him was in 2004, when one of the entities that I look after created so much problems, and the issue being so high focus, it eventually required his involvement. He sat down with my manager, trying to figure out the problem. I could only provide the data, of which my manager kept explaining to him, but he didn't think it worked out that way. It took us a lot of days to finally resolved the issue, and I learnt a lot from that session, not just the solution, but also how to handle a crisis.

He's known to be quite blunt to his team at times, but I believe it is his good intention for us to learn. I have personally experienced that as during a call I had trouble trying to explain to Corporate what issue my countries is facing. He could just summarise the issue in two sentences. Later he asked me and the other team leads to stay back, and told me that I should 'speak English' - i.e - to be able to elaborate something in layman terms. It was quite a humiliating incident as I felt I was being scolded by him in front of others, but I always told myself to learn from my mistakes. Till now I am still very conscious of what I write to others, but still find a challenge when it comes to speaking impromptu.

When I first became manager, he conducted a session for all the newly promoted managers and spoke to us. He addressed our concerns and even gave some useful advice. I felt it was his own initiative to reach out to the first line managers, to assure us that everything will be ok, even though it's not really the case now. I heard while he treats us well, he actually scolds the middle management team. I guess perhaps that's how his approach is with different teams and based on different expectations.

We knew he loved sunflowers, but only today we found out why he choose the sunflower - that it always stand straight up and faces the sun. Interesting.

I was pretty much shattered when he made the announcement on Monday, and when the days came closer to today, it was very hard to look at his desk and to realised he won't be sitting in his place anymore. I went over his desk earlier today, and found him packing his stuff. Immediately I could felt tears welling up in my eyes. My heart ached. It was too painful to watch so I turned back.

During the farewell party, after his speech, we presented him with three gifts - A Photobook which myself, Jade and Cindy spent the late night trying to complete in time for production - and nearly being caught by him in the process of doing so! I was so tired by the time it was completed I went home and fell asleep after dinner. Lucky the photobook turned out great, and I guess he was touched when he flipped through the contents of the book. The 2nd gift was a Blackberry, of which I personally do not endorsed but since it was based on majority votes. The 3rd gift was a 3D engraving of goldfish from Royal Selangor. At first most of us were ok, but when my boss TBS made her speech, I can't hold back the tears anymore. Many of us in the room did the same, and towards the end, when no one else wanted to give any more speeches, the atmosphere became awkwardly quiet. It was as if no one wanted him to leave.

It was in the end he emulated our CFO's remarks - "This is not a goodbye, so I'll see you later".

To me, it seemed more like he made himself out of a job. Which is pretty ironic as it is the same advice I received from my first predecessor - To do such a good job, and you ended up not having a job. I'm sure there's other factors involved too (politics?!?) but since nothing's confirmed I won't say much here.

Yes, we are all devastated, but life goes on. The company goes on. We just have to ensure we do our job well to keep up the good work and retained what he has built up for us and the company.

To my Big Big Big Boss, thank you and see you later.


lilium said...

I guess most ppl would have thought the same that he will stay until he retires. Leaving for another company is the last thing on mind. I give my high regards to him to being the "BIGGEST" boss, he always remain humble and I suppose it is this quality that makes some staff to be able to casually chat with him. I guess we know some of them.

The only thing we can do now is to continue to bring glory and uphold the name what he has built for us.

lemmonsea said...

Your story is very touching. But what I learned about Resignation for several years, every movement contains pain, but without pain, can't go forward.
However, still I can't be used to it..