Danielle spent the rest of the day working on her presentation and verifying her research. She had called her best friend to come over and help her out. Stacey was always a great support for any of Danielle’s battles. She was definitely going to help her win this one. Stacey had talked all evening about riding in the company’s executive limo, being Danielle’s plus one for company retreats, and taking the company jet for the holidays. Stacey had a clearer vision of Danielle as Executive Vice-President than even Danielle herself. Danielle had explained the situation to Stacey and she had advised Danielle on exactly how to work with a big bad wolf. They enjoyed the rest of the weekend, bought new suits to get set for the selection meeting, and made sure everything was set.
David had called a couple of times to get her to meet him over the weekend, but she promised to give him all he wanted Monday morning before the presentation since she was really busy with her notes. He had agreed, and he pledged his support for her, even giving her tips on how she would convince the board.
Danielle had met up with some of her co-workers, gathering support and facts. She couldn’t have been more ready for this presentation.
She had not been this nervous since her first interview to join the company 7 years ago. She had stayed unmarried even at 33, trying to climb the corporate ladder before she would slow down to enjoy the company of a man she loved and children that warmed her heart. Now, she wondered if she would ever be as relaxed to have children. She said hi to the security man and receptionist. She had always been friendly with them and occasionally coming down to help them fill forms that could move them to the next pay grade. The cleaners were outsourced but she sometimes paid a meal or just hung out with all of them in the junior staff lounge. They normally had better insights on what was happening on the streets.
She rode the elevator to her floor and walked into her office. She cross-checked her notes, took a drink from the dispenser and exhaled deeply.
The intercom rang.
“Hello good morning. This is HR.” she said as she picked the phone.
“Yes HR, this is Presidency”, he chuckled. It was David.
“How would you answer the phone when you become Executive Vice President?”
“Good morning Mr. David. How was your weekend? Danielle asked.
“It was fine dear. Say, are you ready for the presentation? It’s in 3 hours”. David said.
“Yes sir, I am.”
“That’s great, then you wouldn’t have a problem with coming to see me just before. We would only need five minutes.” David laughed mischievously.
“OK sir, I’m on my way up,” Danielle said, dropping the phone, straightening her suit and walking out of her office.
She stepped out of the elevator, nodded to the secretary and said “He is expecting me” as she walked past before the secretary could say a word.
She entered David’s office, locked the door behind her, walked to his desk and sat down. His office had a wonderful view of the city. Several miles away, you could see the beachside. It had been a while Danielle had been to the beach. On the weekdays she is always at work, and most weekends, she prepares for work the next week or tries to catch a week’s worth of rest. David speaks, bringing her back to the current situation.
“I’m glad you came. I suppose you are ready for me.” David asked.
“Yes sir, I am,” Danielle replied.
David got up and took off his jacket.
“I have one question though, Mr. David…”
“Call me Dave”, he cut in.
“Ok Dave If I do not do this with you, I wouldn’t get your support for the selection?” Danielle asked.
“Let me have your phone,” David says as he opens his palm.
Danielle takes her phone out of her pocket and gives it to him. David opens his drawer, takes out his cigar case, empties the case and puts her phone in it. He takes out his own phone, plays his favorite jazz track, puts it the same case with her phone and shuts it.
“You’ll have your phone when we are done. As for your fate if you don’t do this. Well, at this point. You know too much.”
Danielle’s eye widened.
“No, no, I won’t kill you or anything”, he smiled, “I’m not a psychopath. I would just withdraw my support and make it my goal for the rest of the year to make sure you no longer work in this company.” He says with a very serious face.
“Ok Dave, that’s fair enough. ” She stands and leans towards him. “However, as much as I would like to give you what you are asking for, I am scared it would mess up my composure for today. I see you as an aggressive man in that regard and it wouldn’t be great if I can’t give my presentation how I should.” She straightens his tie, takes a few step back and grins.
“Let’s do this. Allow me to finish the presentation with full body, mind, and soul, then just after we go to my favorite place and hit off from there, waking up to the valentine morning. You are the boss, you can cancel work for the rest of the day for me. So just two of us, with nothing to spoil the mood.” Danielle concluded biting her lips.
“I like your plan. Let’s do that.” David said really happy, handing her, her phone.
“I’ll meet you at the East car park entrance 40 minutes after the meeting. “Danielle added blowing David a kiss and walking towards the door. She unlocks it and heads for her office.
It’s 30mins to the start of the meeting. She picks up her small mirror making sure her face is fine. She gathers all her materials into her bag and off she goes to become Executive VP.
David is already in the boardroom. There are 5 others on the board present, the CEO and 2 men who she had not seen before but seemed to be here for the presentation too. She sits on one of the empty seats and listens as the meeting begins. Other presenters were told to wait outside during presentations, and when you have given your presentation, you are to leave. Danielle’s turn arrives as she is asked to come in. She walks in, connects her laptop to the monitor, and arranges her notes. She looks up and catches David’s smile. She smiles back and begins the presentation.
“Good day, distinguished members of the board. I’m happy to be here. However, there is a slight change in my plan as I would present for the post of President.” Danielle begins.
“We already have a president, young lady”, a member of the board, speaks.
“Yes sir, I am aware. But I am also aware that this company loses millions every year, and I am here to talk about how to end this, and boost profits to the delight of shareholders”. Danielle said.
“I think this is preposterous. She thinks we are here to play games. I say we disqualify her and throw her out of the company for such presumptuousness.” David says, very angry.
“If you would all just let me give my presentation you would see my point. We would be making 200% more, and saving millions in lawsuits.” Danielle adds.
“What lawsuits? We have no lawsuits. Our legal counsel can confirm this.” A female member of the board says.
“You have none now, but my research leading up to this presentation will show you defending lawsuits to the tune of a million dollars in a few weeks if the method I am about to discuss isn’t implemented.” Danielle tries to convince them to listen.
“OK, let’s hear you. If this is just an insult to David, and not worth our while, you would not just lose this bid, but lose your job as well” the CEO says.
“Thank you, sir. Members of the board, I would like to show you were we as a company can be better and gain even more.” Danielle says as she begins her presentation. She shows the graphs she had worked on and explained her research. She convinced the board of real market statistics she pulled from the cleaners at the ground floor as opposed to the marketing department’s figures. She uncovers nepotism in the choice of contractors by the president costing the company millions further reducing the profit margin. She highlights links to the financial control office that should be cut off. The president is not supposed to be so involved. She also lists what Freddie the security guard thinks would improve the product, backed by a survey she carried out late Saturday. Freddie had given suggestions on improvements that if implemented would help the company pull an extra 2% profit, a feature the marketing department had missed.
“Finally, as regards lawsuits we can avoid. The company legal counsel can attest to the seriousness of these allegations.” Danielle plays a video of David harassing her. She had taken the video off the spy pen she had in her pocket throughout his meeting with her hours ago. It was Stacey’s idea and she was glad it worked well.
“You think you can blackmail me? You think you can frame me for this?” David shouted getting up as he sees the video of him.
“David you either sit or I would ask you to be escorted outside.” The CEO says.
David sits still fuming.
“If you listen closely to the audio you would understand what’s happening. It is my Job to check staff discipline. We have 17 women ready to sue for harassment in the workplace. Each with their own proof.” Other male members shifted in their seat. “This video alone can tear this company down if it goes to court.” In the employee handbook, this case of harassment is enough to make him lose his job, and hence my presentation for his post.” Danielle concludes.
“I do not know if this is a threat to the company, or how far this goes, but I would like to investigate this further. David, you are suspended till we get to the bottom of this. Legal counsel, is what she is saying going to be a problem?” The CEO asks.
“This is just crazy. This is crazy. After all my years in this company, you would listen to her?” David says angrily.
“If it goes to court, it won’t be pretty sir. Best to make it go away here.” the legal counsel responds.
“Danielle, Congratulations. You are the new President for the period of David’s suspension. You would be on probation and would be carefully watched. Make all this go away and be sure to deliver on the numbers. If not, you would join David in the Job market. You will hold the office till we find someone experienced to take over from you. The president’s office is not a place for trial and error.”
“Thank you, sir. I won’t let you down.” Danielle responds, beaming with smiles. David angrily storms out of the office pushing people out of his way.
Danielle walks in the empty hallway and dials a number.
“Hello Stacey, you won’t believe it.” Danielle shrieks.
“You are the new Executive VP?” Stacey asks.
“It’s even better…” Danielle said.