Also amusing in the Graun are the wonderfully unselfconscious words of Susan Rice, Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Scotland. She’s so terribly, terribly important that she has to put in a 15-hour working day.
“Home for me is Aberdeen, my head office is Edinburgh and I’m in London a couple of days a week because Lloyds TSB group HQ is there. So often I start my day very early to catch the first plane out of Scotland.”
“Whether I’m travelling by car or plane, I work the whole time. Because the job is very demanding, I use my time very efficiently. If I’m not flying, I get into my office very early because it gives me a chance to sort things out for the day. Meetings can start as early as 7am. From then on they’re usually back-to-back until the end of the day. Even 15-minute telephone calls need to be booked into my diary.”
Later she admits that
“You can’t work the way I do without being tremendously dependent on a number of people.”
yet she still hasn’t learned how to delegate or teleconference. Here’s the perfectly pooterish climax of her account:
“There are no slack days. The pace is frenetic the whole week. But it never gets to me. People say: ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ But I derive a great deal of energy from my work. So even if I have a work commitment on a Friday evening, I’m usually up for it.
“We have three children, including a daughter who is 15 and still at school, but because we live in Aberdeen – my husband is vice-chancellor of the university there – I’m not home most evenings. We try to guard our weekend time and spend one day hill walking, but often I have paperwork to do.”
“…And my husband’s a vice-chancellor, actually.” I suppose you could argue that if this is the kind of timetable a woman must follow to become the CEO of a large company in the UK then it’s simply idiot presenteeism that is the cause of the so-called glass ceiling: most British women aren’t stupid enough to work so inefficiently. Here’s a chart of Lloyds TSB’s share performance over the last five years. Not that it’ll make much difference to the daft bat’s gigantic pay-off when she retires—no doubt to meddle full-time in other people’s businesses through her membership of a diverse range of quangos.
I remember my father’s response to such tales of absurdly long hours: “Then why don’t you get a job that you’re actually good at?”.
Even a 15 minute phone-call has to be scheduled? What’s a 15-minute phone-call? I typically run out of things to say after about 90 seconds. She obviously spends the other 13.5 minutes gossiping.
No doubt they are both wonderul parents to two wonderful and well-adjusted kids.
All this takes me back to the time when I had a new boss who was so determined to keep an iron grip on the business that she insisted on monitoring and questioning absolutely everything that I and my colleagues did to a quite absurd extent.
Initially, I assumed that this was because she wanted to learn the ropes—she was a local entrepreneur who had no practical experience of the business she’d taken over—but after a few weeks it became clear that the real problem was that she was quite incapable of delegating, but also equally incapable of making constructive decisions herself (or rather, we’d have regular meetings, she’d listen to our advice, and then do the exact opposite).
You can probably guess the impact that this had on us—I’d been used to working largely unsupervised, a luxury I’d earned because I always delivered what I was expected to deliver as a bare minimum, and usually something far in excess of that. But with every single thing I was doing suddenly opened up to constant criticism and mostly irrelevant nit-picking, my productivity plunged through the floor, and when I finally resigned after fourteen months (I magnanimously decided to give her a year to see if things got better) it was the best decision I ever made.
Not least because the company itself didn’t survive much longer.
To be fair, in my view share price is a really lousy measure of CEO performance. A better one is company profit or, if you really want a share based measure, dividend. Share price is just favoured because there’s been a move towards short term speculation in markets as a way of making money, rather than genuine investment in companies, the real reason the stock market developed.
On this basis Lloyds TSB isn’t doing badly, (but that’s largely because it’s a high street bank, and we’re all too lazy and stupid to go elsewhere despite their poor service. Perhaps if their CEO had time to pop into one of their branches she’d find this out?)
I wonder how she organises nookie time? If there is any.