Sunday, October 10, 2004

All's Well That Ends Well

Remember Forrest Gump? It was a great movie and it was filled with great lines. Who can forget the most famous of them all - "Life is like a box of never know what you're gonna get."

I've just completed the most difficult eight weeks of my professional life which took that Forrest Gump line and made it clear as day to me. In a previous post I mentioned that I was going for a promotion with my company that may have required my moving the family to Atlanta. I started the process by submitting my name for inclusion in August. My first interview was in mid-August with the HR Director of the company. He decided I qualified for the position and I advanced to the next round. Now, I was applying for the position of Director of Retail Sales and there were TWO of those positions available - one here in New Jersey and one in Atlanta. I made it clear that I would move if needed and several other people in the company said the same thing.

My second interview was a lunch interview with a Vice President of Sales and it went very well. I felt I made some strong points and she expressed to me that I was a good candidate for the job. I learned that the company was including outside applicants as well as internal ones which added a bit of edge to things because I had no idea what type of people would be applying. After my second interview I expressed to my family that I thought there was a 70% chance of getting the position and it would probably be to Atlanta because an outside applicant would most likely stay here in Jersey. Meanwhile, my mood was getting edgy and everytime I got an invitation to a company meeting, I thought something was going to happen. It didn't...and the wait continued.

My third interview was with the Director of Sales who was leaving the Atlanta position and coming here to Jersey to assume a new position as head of all the sales managers. I knew this guy for several years so I was relaxed and answered the questions well. It was an hour long interview and the questions were deep and heavy (Name a time when you felt the company you worked for was holding you back - what did you do and how did it turn out?)....questions like that. Tired and overwhelmed - I continued to wait it out for some word - positive or not - that would determine my life and my family's life for the next several years.

Interview number FOUR was with the President of our company. It was hard hitting and to the point. I didn't think I did well at all. The questions were tough (What will you do in your first 90 days as Director to make your team better?) and I was talking directly with the President, which made it more nerveracking and difficult. I left his office completely drained and non-confident. I told my family that there was a small chance of the promotion and forget about Atlanta. I mean, who knew? Four interviews in 6 weeks and still NOTHING!!!

I was told after meeting with the President that I would know within a week if I made it to the FINAL ROUND INTERVIEW - a roundtable interview with a panel of four executives at our office in Philadelphia. Of course, it took all week to hear anything....

Finally, on a Friday I got an e-mail that said I made the final six candidates for the two jobs and to be in Philadelphia on September 27th for my final panel interview. Now my mind was in full speed. I had a whole week to marinate this thought in my brain and my family was in complete freak mode. Am I moving to Atlanta with my wife and kids??? Will I be let down and not get any position at all?? Time seemed to stand still. The wait for Philly was tough but FIRST...I had to complete an online assessment test. Yes, after 4 interviews and a FIFTH one coming - I ALSO had to complete a 200 question online test designed by some outside company.

The test was BRUTAL. There were analogy questions (Frog:Dinasaur as Whale:?) and there were LONG division and algebra questions. I felt like I was taking the SAT's. It took me over 2 hours to complete the exam but it took my mind off WAITING so it was OK.....

FINALLY the 27th arrives and I am in a small room at the end of a conference room table and there are four of the top Marlin execs at the other end staring at me. One of them was writing down EVERYTHING I said - it was so strange! I was cracking jokes to break the tension - "Do you want me to speak slower so you get everything down on paper?" The interview lasted over an hour and I was completely and utterly WIPED after it. I was DONE. Toast. PLEASE DON'T TELL ME THERE WILL BE ANOTHER INTERVIEW!! There would not be. The President told me I would know my Friday the final virdict....

Tuesday.......Wednesday.......Thursday morning....request to meet in the Director's office...gulp. This is IT......

"We thought you were an excellent interview....." was the way it started. I knew right away I was not getting offered the positions. I sat and listened as the President of the company praised me and told me how important I was to the organization. It was actually very insighful - it showed me they were listening in my interviews because they were right on about my strengths and weaknesses. They were hiring an Atlanta candidate for the job down there and were going outside the company for the position in Jersey. HOWEVER - they created a new position for me here in Jersey - Manager of Branch Operations which would better use my skills. PERFECT!!!

The job is perfect for me - less sales and more management. I will be responsible for all of the day to day operations of my sales team. I won't get into details here but it's exciting!! The money is great and it's the biggest promotion I ever got in my working career so it's a success!

So life is a box of chocolates - I had NO IDEA what I was getting when I opened the box but the chocolate I got was the sweetest one in the box! Needless to say, my family is quite happy that I am not taking the kids to Atlanta....

So who knows what lurks around the next corner? For now - it's all good. It was a learning experience and I will grow from it. If it does not kill you, it makes you stronger!

I'm going to bed now....tomorrow is Monday and I have to get to work!!!


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