Our ‘man on the inside’ provides a view from the top of the marketing tree

I cannot remember a week when my schedule has changed so much. A planned business trip to Spain was grounded before it began and a whole itinerary of other meetings were either rearranged or switched to conference call. I suspect that revenues for phone and video conferencing companies have erupted in the past week.

It has taken an incident of volcanic proportions to make me reassess my working week. I don’t know about others, but I felt somewhat lost last week, struggling to know what to do with myself with so many meetings cancelled.

It made me realise that my professional life is essentially a non-stop series of meetings and that when they are not taking place, I am not entirely sure how to do any real work. I found the whole experience deeply unsettling and will be relieved when normal service resumes.

My professional life is essentially a non-stop series of meetings… I’m not entirely sure how to do any real work

Determined not to miss out completely on all meetings, we tried where possible to arrange phone conference meetings. That in itself is stressful. After negotiating the dial-in procedure and subsequent pin numbers, there is then the predictable meet-and-greet where everybody announces that they are in the building and asks everybody else how they are. The sequence is then excruciatingly repeated as each member joins the call.
Eventually nearly everybody is on the call. We agree to make a start even though Jens from Finland and Maria from Spain appear to have either lost their dial-in numbers or are still attempting to get to the airport.

Ten minutes in, Maria does emerge from her Siesta and apologises for being late. We spend the next ten minutes telling her what happened in the first ten minutes. By now, I am truly hoping that Jens from Finland doesn’t make the call at all. Hopefully his Nokia is flat or he has been redeployed to the Nordic region volcano contingency planning team.

We adopt a corporate committee-based approach to manage our global brands. Everybody’s country has a seat at the top table, irrespective of the size of their market. It is politically correct, but totally tortuous. Two hours later, after a few awkward silences, we achieve a strategic breakthrough. We have agreed the location and the agenda for the next committee meeting – subject, of course, to Jens being able to make it.


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