Still, to be fair – and ‘scrupulous fairness’ is my middle name (along with confidence, metaphorically, and Ian, literally) – it’s true that the buyout world exhibits a noticeable drop in intensity over the summer months. In fact, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that at Big Shop, half the office disappeared as soon as the school holidays started and hasn’t been seen since.
Although annoying on one level – in that it has limited my ability to share my good fortune with others – I saw it as an opportunity. It’s like that rugby player who used to practice his kicks on Christmas Day because he knew his rivals wouldn’t be (or was it football? check). This was the perfect time to cement my competitive advantage.
Unfortunately, my plan was scuppered by the new head of HR (yes, I’m ashamed to say we have one), from whom I received a call in July.
“Nick, I note that you’re yet to take a day’s holiday in 2012.”
“Yes, that’s correct.” I proudly awaited a commendation for my steadfastness and youthful vigour.
“The Shop believes that making full use of designated company annual leave is critically important to the wellbeing of its employees, partners and other stakeholders.”
“You need a holiday. It’s not good for you to spend all summer sitting at a desk.”
“Thanks, but that won’t be necessary. I’m working on a very big deal right now. Perhaps you’ve heard? It’s this little Greek manuf-”
“I’ve spoken to your line manager, and we’ve agreed that you’ll take two weeks off between now and the end of August. Go home. Watch the Olympics. Read some books. Take a trip. Breath some fresh air into your lungs. You look like a guy who’s spent the last six months in a windowless room.” She said this last bit like it’s a bad thing.
Well I wasn’t happy, but since I don’t actually know who my line manager is, I didn’t have much choice but to go home. I must say – and far be it from me to criticise the Shop, ever – I think it’s a bit short-sighted. Now is the time to strike, when the enemy is at its weakest (is this Sun Tzu? check). Instead I was stuck at home, squandering my formidable internet research skills on the Dutch women’s hockey team.
Still, one thing sustained me: the knowledge that when everyone gets back in September, my deal is going before the investment committee! It’s funny, because when I first told my boss, he seemed a bit lukewarm on the idea. But then he called me in at the start of July and gave me the good news.
“I can’t believe I’m actually telling you this, but your ‘selling olive oil to the Greeks’ thing is going before the investment committee.” I started trying to say something to express my delight – not to mention my utmost confidence that they were unquestionably making the right choice – but he cut me off. “I know, I know. But the word from on high is that we need to start coming up with a few more left-field, counter-intuitive ideas. And this was about the most improbable thing on the slate.”
Anyway, it’s obviously pretty exciting. However, it’s also very frustrating – I keep thinking of really important questions to ask my boss, but unfortunately he disappeared off to his château in the south of France immediately after our meeting and seems to have turned his Blackberry off ever since. Don’t you just hate summer?!