February 27, 2011

General Musings for the week 27th February 2011

I had a bit of a blast from the past this week. Regular readers will know that I used to work for a large American multinational pharmaceutical company but left over four years ago to pursue other interests (and no, I wasn't fired, I left - which caused some amount of surprise to my immediate superiors). Since I left the company they have gone into something of a spiral (and no, I don't attribute the downturn to me leaving, although I do attribute my leaving to realising the spiral was coming).

The result of the spiral is that my previous department - which numbered something in the region of 250 people across Europe - is now down to about 95 people. The office where I used to work is something of a shell of itself, and things are still not finished. A lot of people took voluntary redundancy from the company and - of those that were left - a number of them jumped ship to move to other organisations or even to spend time doing nothing for while as they search for a new role. I'm pleased to say that a lot of them have managed to find new roles - proving that the economy is probably not as bad as people tend to paint it - and that the company they've left is struggling. It appears that as the IT function was whittled down through successive rounds of redundancy and leavers, the service they offered to the rest of the organisation has diminished to the point where the users are now starting to complain they aren't getting the support they need. But this also appears to be exacerbated by the fact that a new country manager who was moved into the region recently has deemed IT to be not worthy of a place on the Lead Team and has removed the current head of IT from that role. I always found it amusing that in these days of technological advancement an organisation can consider IT to be not worthy of a seat at the management table. Never mind, in a couple of years time the company will be so small it won't need IT, just a PC guy who can refill the printer cartridges when the toner runs out.

But back to my original thought on this. It was good to get together with a number of folks from the old company as we celebrated the last day at work of two ex-colleagues who had both jumped ship at the same time. Tom and Mark both had many years of experience with the company and will have no problem finding some other employment soon (in fact Mark is ready to start his new role at a global network infrastructure provider very soon). I'm in touch with a number of ex-colleagues (most of whom have now left for pastures new) but it was interesting to get an insiders view on the current state of the organisation. I also can't help but think back to the time I told the Head of European IT that he could spend a lot of time and a little money now getting things right or he could spend a little time now and a lot more money later redoing it, and he chose the latter option. I wonder if that was the cause of a lot of the problems......

A special shout out to Michael Horgan this week. He's in hospital for a 'minor operation' which always seems to be a bit of an oxymoron to me. In my opinion (and that of Victoria Wood), a minor operation is one which is happening to someone else. I know he was due to have the operation earlier in the week but after prepping him and keeping him in the hospital for a whole day they finally decided they didn't have enough time so called him back later in the week

I'm a little excited this week because I've finally managed to get some time on the new Meryl Streep movie 'The Iron Lady' where she plays Margaret Thatcher across the years. A couple of my friends have done days on the show already so I'm quite looking forward to it. More next week.

The Video of the week is an absolute cracker this week. A few years ago I directed a play called "Black Comedy" which worked on the basis of reverse chinese lighting; i.e the whole of the cast were playing the scene as if it was in complete darkness when in fact the stage was fully lit. This continued until a character on stage lit a match, candle or torch in which case the ACTUAL lighting on stage would reduce and the cast would play the scene as if they were on full light. Taking this to its logical extreme this performer from Japan has actually brought shadows onto the stage with him and is engaged in combat with them. The choreography, timing, skill and ingenuity of this piece is absolutely fantastic. highly recommended:

BONUS video of the week: After the horrendous earthquake in Christchurch this week I'm posting video taken 1 minute after the quake stopped. It shows the devastation a 6.3 earthquake can do to a largish city. I'm also glad to hear that friend, colleague and fellow actor Gavin was unhurt in the quake.