Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


The Charlotte IBM plant was a big draw - particularly from IBM locations in the northeast. The weather was nice and the housing prices were reasonable and the schools were good. So, the plant ended up with a lot of Yankees. And people liked it and so wanted to stay.

The Rochester IBM plant employees were pretty much all Minnesotans. And they didn't so much want to stay as refused to leave. So new people especially 'foreigners' were kind of rare and did not meld into the population seamlessly.

The new head of the plant - a rare transplant and from the northeast - needed help getting his message across internally and externally. He would normally have gone to his communications department for the help but he didn't like them. So he tweaked the system to get his own communications person.

And that was the job I was interviewing for. It turned out both the job and the interview were kind of like trying to get a job with the wrong side of a warring faction. That's a little strong but not terribly far off.

He wanted someone who was not afraid to stick his or her neck out and take chances and go against the way it's always been done and maybe take a career risk or two (or twenty as it turned out). He needed that person to talk to press, customers, employees, and to write speeches and presentations, and generally be his personal communications expert. And agree to move to a tiny town in a section of the country where 17 below zero wasn't particularly unusual. (As one who appreciates cold weather, loves snow and wanted to get out of the northeast and far away from an ex boyfriend, I had that last bit covered in spades.)

We hit it off from the first minute we met. We talked for the longest time. Towards the end of that day, he had a meeting with some top employees to explain why they couldn't go down the road they had planned to with one particular product. I offered to draft up some remarks/phrasing for him to use at the meeting. I spent the afternoon doing just that.

I stood in the back of the room while he delivered my words without even very many changes and the message was received better than he expected. It was so gratifying. And then he asked me to come work for him. And I said I'd be delighted.

I had two weeks to wrap up my work in the Real Estate division, find a place to live in Minnesota, pack up and move and get to work. I started work on October 15 that year and October 15 brought the first snow of that year. I took that as a very good omen and so it turned out to be.

To Be Continued
Tags: tbc
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