The Global Visit - an IT Evangelist Arrives Downunder!

Written by experienced Australian IT executive Steve Eatts, StupIT People is a tongue in cheek expose of the world of modern big technology business. It's a world where corporate madness and self-interest rules. One in which clients and employees simply don't matter, as senior executives (aka company psychopaths) pursue short-term personal profit and internal point-scoring at absolutely any cost.

The story revolves around Michael Mansfield, a loyal and hard-working IT Sales Executive who strives to do the right thing by his company. For Michael, saving stupid people from themselves, navigating the constant back-stabbing within the business, and dealing with corporate political correctness gone mad has become a way of life.

In this extract from StupIT People, Michael is tasked with escorting a hotshot consultant from the firm's US head office on a whirlwind tour of Australia.

I flew into Sydney on the Sunday night in order to be ready for Digby’s arrival first thing on Monday morning.

I chuckled to myself when I read my LinkedIn feed while in transit and saw that he’d tagged me in a post that wanked on about him ‘evangelising the digital message down under…’.

In setting up the agenda for these types of visits we usually leave the Monday morning free of any client commitments, to give our Global visitors the chance to freshen up after a long-haul flight and to spend some time briefing them in detail on the plans for the week.

Since the call last Wednesday night, I had also had the chance to remove a couple of sensitive client meetings from the agenda and to substitute them with internal meetings to keep Digby occupied, but as out of harm’s way as possible. So I needed to take him over the final agenda and plans for the week.

I went to meet Digby at his inner-city hotel early Monday afternoon and I wasn’t disappointed. He came out wearing dark jeans and a dusty pink sports coat with a black t-shirt underneath that simply had the word ‘digital’ written on it. All in lower case. This was, at least to me, the ultimate modern-day technical wanker’s outfit.

True to form, Digby then spent the majority of the one-hour briefing session talking about himself, the journal paper he was working on, and how the global MD of The Company had asked him to represent The Company on some supposedly important US industry board. I couldn’t get a word in edgeways!

Not that I really cared, as I knew that this whole week was going to be a train smash, and I’d already decided to just try and minimise the carnage and amuse myself as much as possible at the same time.

So in that spirit, and since we had no client meetings organised for later that day, I asked how would Digby like to divert to the hotel bar and tell me some more about this paper he was working on?

With much the same approach, we eventually managed to get through the week. I said goodbye to Digby in Melbourne on Friday as he headed to the International Terminal to board his plane back to the US, and I headed to the Domestic Terminal for my flight home to Adelaide.

As it turned out, the damage had been relatively light. Between myself and the respective Account Managers, we managed to set the expectations for each meeting with the statement that ‘Digby was there to share some insights into global trends and what he is seeing with our clients elsewhere’.

Then for the next hour he would prattle on about himself and his theories of what was happening in the market. He’d mention the word ‘digital’ at least 50+ times per session and he never actually engaged in any dialogue on the client’s challenges. Which was a good thing, as any specific discussions on client problems was sure to lead to Digby showing them how smart he was and telling them how to suck eggs.

A couple of clients were less than impressed that we wasted their time with this guy, so the respective Account Managers had some work to do to smooth that over with those particular clients.

But, in what I thought was a pretty good hit rate, there was only one client who pulled me aside immediately after the usual Digby session and said very clearly, ‘Michael, please make sure that I never lay eyes on that f...wit again.’ ‘Absolutely understood and guaranteed,’ was my quick response back.

In stark contrast, there were actually a couple of sessions that went OK. The first was with Neville from T9One over dinner on Tuesday night.

I think this was mainly because I just zoned out, took a couple of calls, and had a couple of drinks while they talked about technology trends and god knows what.

Neville was also delighted that Digby accepted his invitation to continue ‘this riveting conversation’ at his favourite ‘Gentleman’s club’ after we’d finished dinner, which I again politely declined and left them to it.

For some reason, and much to my amusement, Digby appeared quite ginger and subdued the next morning when we met quite early at the airport for the flight to Canberra!

The other session that went OK was one of the sessions in Melbourne. It was with the so-called celebrity CIO, Blair Jaymes. Talk about two peas in a pod!

Blair also has a well- earned reputation in the industry as a bit of a tosser who just spruiks buzz words about emerging technology trends and never actually delivers anything of value to whatever business has the current misfortune to employ him as their CIO or Chief Technologist.

He certainly never seems to last long enough in any single organisation to actually implement anything.

The briefing document we’d prepared for Digby on Blair was testament to this. It showed that Blair had been with eight different organisations in just the past five years.

He is also prolific on LinkedIn and Twitter, which impressed Digby when he looked at Blair’s LinkedIn profile, so much so that he’d invited him to connect before they’d even met.

Given that Blair is always at conferences, appearing on panels or as a guest speaker at them, it was really a minor miracle that Digby and Blair had not crossed paths previously.

Anyway, despite both talking across each other constantly for the entire duration of their meeting, they hit it off famously. They finished off by taking a selfie together that was immediately posted on their social media feeds as some sort of cathartic meeting of the great minds behind worldwide digital transformation.

Watching the whole thing unfold really made me want to puke, but instead I just smiled and nodded throughout the meeting knowing that the ordeal was nearly over.

It also taught me that when two such idiots meet, the main and only enduring outcome is that they post clichéd and vomit-inducing quotes about each other on social media that they themselves think are inspirational - Whereas in my humble opinion #DigitalDisruptor = #Wanker!

Before we let Digby go, we had a final session which was the internal one that we had originally set up for the local Practice Team to meet the Global Practice Leader. Instead they had to make do with Digby again talking about his favourite subject - himself - sprinkled liberally with buzz words like digital, big data, omnichannel and blockchain.

I could tell from the reactions of those in the room that they thought Digby was a complete prat, except for Dexter, the Chief Architect from Consulting, who’d invited himself along to this session to meet Digby and clearly thought he too had found his digital soulmate.

After the session had ended I had to prise the two of them apart in order to bundle Digby into a car and get him to the airport. After all, there was no way I was going to risk him missing his flight after the week that I’d just endured!

After a full week of seemingly endless and mind-numbing meetings, in the end there were only two and a half people who enjoyed Digby’s visit and didn’t think he was a complete and utter wanker.

They were Blair the Celebrity CIO, Dexter from Consulting, and Neville from T9One. Neville only accounted for the half since he’d phoned me on Wednesday to say that Digby had become rather inebriated, untidy and ‘handy’ later on Tuesday evening at Neville’s ‘club’ and had got himself ejected by the bouncers, which Neville described as ‘highly embarrassing and inappropriate’.

Geez, I would have thought that taking business partners to strip clubs these days was in itself highly embarrassing and inappropriate, but whatever. That little nugget of information about Digby’s inappropriate behaviour provided enough extra amusement for me to actually make the week worthwhile.

StupIT People is available as a paperback or Kindle Edition on Amazon