Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fork in the road

As I mentioned a while back the company that I work for was for sale.  On November 1st the $2+ billion dollar transaction took place; something that had increased our workload substantially over the summer.  And on Tuesday a town-hall meeting was called for all offices across Canada.  It would be at noon-hour meeting for us on the Atlantic coast.  Fear in the office was slightly escalated but at the same time, since we had received limited information on any restructuring, our hopes were that we would get some insight as to how our next few months would be affected.

We received an inner-office invite to merge in the conference room at 11:30 and have some lunch as we prepared for the tele-conference.  I opted to skip the pizza because I'm trying to get back on track with my eating and joined the group around 11:45.  As I walked down the hall to the conference room I noticed two of our VPs in the smaller conference room with someone I didn't recognize and instantly I felt my heart rate quicken.  

I joined the group with were all in active conversations, yet all nervously watching the door.  I sat down next to my friend Karen and soon the receptionist Karma joined us and we made idle chit chat.  Then one of the VPs came out and asked Karma to go downstairs because about 10 people would be arriving and needed to be escorted up to the board room.  My heart sunk and I knew what was coming next.

The group arrived in suits and stern faces.  Most shuffled their way thru the crowd and stood at the front of the room as the new owners started the conference call.  Most of the call I couldn't pay attention to because it was obvious that our future was negatively changing and it was out of our control.  We were told that we would each have one-on-one meetings with the members of staff from the new company to discuss our future and that for those who were not continuing on packages would be detailed.  Tears welled in my eyes.

The call lasted maybe 10 minutes but the weight on everyone's shoulders was beyond bearable.  We went back to our desks and waited out our individual turns.  We couldn't work; not only because we could not concentrate but also because all internet, including email was shut down until after meetings were held.  People who had been employed with the company long enough had a feeling we were all out of jobs immediately and started packing up their desks.  I did the same.  Taking down pictures of William and throwing out non-essential papers and gathering up the social committee petty cash and receipts and putting them in a safe with notes for whoever would deal with the funds.  It was a long three hours until my meeting.

Three hours of watching friends go into an office and come out with swollen eyes; packing up their stuff and leaving or for some there seemed to be a contract for them to consider, which extended their employment for a predetermined amount of time.  Finally it was my time to enter.  I had watched enough of my co-workers pass by to regroup and calm my nerves.  

I entered the office and met someone from the new company in a suit and see an envelope with my name on it on the table.  I made a joke and it broke the tension.  He told me he appreciated my attitude and then went into his speech about me being identified as a key employee and hoped that I would stay with the company until the end of January as part of the transition team.  Anything else he may have said is a blur and I was shuffled down the hall to a gentleman who worked for an independent HR company who would help me transition to my next employment opportunity.

I was offered employment until the end of January at my regular salary.  If I stay until the end of the contract I will also receive a bonus as well as a generous severance package.  Of course I will accept for two reasons... 1. I am terrified to be unemployed and have responsibilities and 2. if I don't accept the offer I get nothing.

So here I am, for a second time in two years, facing unemployment due to a restructuring.  This time, thankfully, I am not also dealing with a health scare and a marriage that is falling apart.  I am at a fork in the road and am now forcing myself to analyse my life and which path I want to follow.  While I was content with my job I knew it wasn't something I would do, at least with this company, for 30 years until retirement.  

The options ahead of me right now are to either stay in the accounting field and continue my designation, or go back to school for a new path, or find alternate employment that utilizes my existing skill set but is perhaps in a different capacity.

Today I have spent the day in Starbucks drinking tea, doing some networking via email, making lists and doing some research.  And it's funny.  Initially I was scared to find out my fate, but unlike my last layoff, I'm looking forward to the change.  It's an exciting stage to be in, regardless of the unknown.  I'm going to try and embrace it this time and try and find a career that is more rewarding than things I have done in the past.

1 comment:

Jody said...

You are being so grown up and realistic about it all! Annette was telling me that a load of companies in Halifax are hauling ass up to Ontario which really sucks. I'm not sure if this is your situation or not, but your attitude is great and you will come out on top no matter what you decide. At least you will now get a severance package :)