Life at Up Up and Away Investment Management International; Chapter 17 Double trouble at Up Up and Away Investment Management International

Chapter 17

Double trouble at Up Up and Away Investment Management International

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 Up Up and Away there was a head office in the United States superimposed above Canadian management. The majority of key policy and operational decisions issues were taken in the New York. This is not to say there is no input from Canadian management but it’s quite evident the Yankees are making the key decisions. The Canadians are the loyal foot soldiers.

This has never caused me any political qualms. After all Canadian subsidiaries are the property of a US largecorp. 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, Up Up and Away had its management team in Canada. They had a CEO and CFO and all the other management layers one might find in a largecorp. But at the end of the day Up Up and Away in Canadian management simply executed plans and goals set for them by Up Up and Away in New York. The bottom line is that Canadian management 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.

Up Up and Away 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 and federal regulators.

Initially when I joined up Up and Away in 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” which meant a squeeze for the biggest profit possible. You knew when Up Up and Away in New York talked about “controlling expenses” that would mean the hatchet would fall and thousands would lose their jobs. With a global workforce of 26,432 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 largecorp. Touching.

Yet having witnessed so many terminations over the years I worked at Up Up and Away executive compensation, particularly through stock option and enriched retirement plan options, was rampant. The New York  Up Up and Away SMT was raking it in hand over foot! Up Up and Away Canadian SMT were poor cousins to the  New York Up Up and Away 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 Up Up and Away I would sit at my desk and just shake my head in disbelief and try figure out who was going to take up the responsibilities the terminating 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 80’s and 90’s as there were few jobs to escape to. The stress of waiting to be next was too much for some. But after a never-ending succession of terminations numbness of employees as opposed to paranoia prevailed over Up Up and Away employees.

Strangely it was the Up Up and Away Canada employees who were being axed not Up Up and Away’s 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 with. They had a vested interest in pleasing those clients which wreaked havoc with my prioritization which in turn was based on what Canadian management expected me to focus on. Poor Tony Hornet 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 Up Up and Away New York management was commandeering my legal work. I was expending exorbitant amounts of time explaining the situation to different Up Up and Away 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 Up Up and Away Americans were bullies however there were some exceptions and strangely enough they were often those senior client relationship managers with some of the hugest 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 of clients. Perhaps they were peons struggling for scraps of Up Up and Away SMT recognition and had to put on a big performance for recognition purposes.

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

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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