Life At Megacorp 17

I recall at CRAP, management decisions were generally implemented and executed quickly. There was only one set of Canadian management to deal with. However, at Megacorp International there was usually a head office in the United States superimposed above Canadian management. The majority of key policy and operational decisions issues were made in the United States.

This is not to say there was no input from Canadian management, but it’s quite evident the Yankees were making the key decisions and the Canadians were the loyal foot soldiers.

This has never caused me any political qualms. After all, Canadian subsidiaries are the property of Megacorp International. If they respect Canadian law let’s not deceive ourselves by saying they then permit Canadian management to call the shots relating to Canadian business affairs.

So, Turtle Bay America had its management team in Canada. They had a CEO and CFO and all the other management layers one might find in a Megacorp. But, at the end of the day, Turtle Bay Canada management simply executed plans and goals set for them by Turtle Bay America.

The bottom line was that they were well paid puppets. In today’s corporate world management sells themselves to the highest bidder. The chase for money and prestige trumps any nationalistic fervor.

Although I was originally an American citizen, I was glad that I had renounced my citizenship and had become a Canadian. Unfortunately, America never learnt its lesson from Vietnam and continued invading and losing.

Turtle Bay America management in New York were, by and large, the meanest and most aggressive brutes I have yet to see. Bold, aggressive, domineering, and demeaning. And there were no Vietcong or NVA in the Canadian corporate jungle to keep them in check; only provincial regulators.

Initially when I joined Turtle Bay Canada, the New York Senior Management Team was very much more relaxed than what it evolved into after 9/11, the Great Recession, and collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Where once they played, to some small degree, to employee growth and development they fell sway to the analysts and the new buzzword was “shareholder value.” That meant a squeeze for the biggest profit possible.

You knew when the Turtle Bay America SMT talked about controlling expenses that would mean the hatchet would fall and thousands would lose their jobs. With a global workforce of 48,000, what was a few thousand employees downsized? Terminations were done en masse.

Never on a Thursday or Friday, and never near Christmas. And, God forbid, never immediately prior to American Thanksgiving! Employee sensitivity by a Megacorp International. Touching.

Yet having witnessed so many terminations over the years I worked at Turtle Bay Canada, executive compensation, particularly through stock option and enriched retirement plan options, was rampant. The New York Turtle Bay America SMT was raking it in hand over foot fist. Turtle Bay Canada were poor cousins to the Turtle Bay America SMT, but they weren’t doing too badly!

I saw many friends and colleagues getting the axe, to the point that near the end of my tenure with Turtle Bay Canada I would sit at my desk and just shake my head in disbelief. I tried to figure out who was going to take up the responsibilities the terminated employees had formerly been undertaking.

The butchery was so bad people were fleeing to other jobs if they could, which was not easy in the 80s and 90s as there were few jobs available. The stress of waiting to be next was too much for some. But, after a never-ending succession of terminations, numbness as opposed to paranoia prevailed over Turtle Bay employees.

Strangely, it was the Turtle Bay Canada employees who were being axed and not Turtle Bay Canada’s SMT. Since most decisions were made in New York, why bother with a Canadian management team at all! I never realized why the Canadian SMT were spared. What value they added, other than window dressing for clients, was never apparent to me.

There was duplication in much decision making.

For example, if there was a severe or threatening legal issue in contractual negotiations, or arising in daily operations, I’d have to explain it to Canadian management and then inevitably New York management. Not only that, New York management almost always had existing relationships with the companies I was negotiating contracts.

They had a vested interest in pleasing those clients which wreaked havoc with my prioritization.

Poor Ross Trenholm was caught in the battle of Canadian vs New York priorities. The hell if the New York client was half the size or far less profitable than the Canadian client I was dealing with. It was almost as if politics between Canadian and New York Turtle Bay management was commandeering my legal work.

I was expending exorbitant amounts of time explaining the situation to different Turtle Bay management in the United States and Canada to the extent that the practice of law was being replaced by politics and incessant duplicative explanations.

The majority of Turtle Bay Americans were bullies, however there were some exceptions and they were often those senior client relationship managers with some of the biggest global clients.

Perhaps they were comfortable with their power. They were the easiest Yankees to deal with. The nastiest were those servicing the less than global leaders. Perhaps they were peons struggling for scraps and had to put on a big performance for recognition purposes.

I suppose the lesson might be in dealing with Megacorp International you have to be just as huge as they are to receive the servicing attention you deserve. As a puny Canadian Megacorp you are second fiddle to Yankee clients of Megacorp International.

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About the Author

Ross Trenholm
Life at Megacorp is a true-to-life account of living and working in the higher echelons of the corporate world. Ross Trenholm is the fictionalized persona of those who have lived the Megacorp life and only the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.