Shenanigans at an international business training. I need a stronger coffee.

Due to illness a colleague couldn’t attend a business training and passed the invite to me. I hurriedly packed my bag, and drove to the hotel where the event (“competitive research”) was to take place. A menacing venue, a skyscraper with (no doubt) all amenities and an undersized pool in the cellar. I stormed into the building. Many participants were already onsite, almost exclusively men in black business suits with vests. Very friendly men, who ignored my jeans, shirt and the absent tie, instead involving me in their conversations. Yes, they were also attending the M.E. event, yes it was going to be an exciting day. I lined up in the long queue to get my training material, all the while feeling more and more out of place. Finally, the friendly ladies at the reception illuminated me; this queue was for the M.E. event “IT for Banking”. I was booked for the M.E. event in the next building, reachable by the connecting bridge. I sighed with relief and waved farewell to my new friends. I hurried over the bridge and found the correct meeting room, where a dozen participants and the single presenter (all dressed in a similar fashion as I) were just getting ready to start. One participant (a representative from pharma) was still missing, explained the presenter, but he had been in contact with him, and suggested to kick off anyway. We did a round of introductions and expectation setting, the usual stuff. The presenter started off on a lengthy and very dry presentation, which didn’t bode well for the day. I longed for a coffee (which I had missed due to the hullabaloo). Twenty minutes in, and a man threw open the door. He stared at us, and we stared back. Sweaty and red-faced, he clutched his briefcase to his chest and made for the single free chair. He sat down, got out a notepad and picked up one of the pens on the table. Curious behavior, as there was a pen visible in the pocket of the vest that he wore beneath his black suit. I, and some of the other participants looked at the presenter with question marks in our eyes. But the presenter, undeterred, just kept on rambling on. In fact, he increased volume and speed. The new participant started to fidget about. He looked at the presenter, then at us. He played with his necktie. He picked up a brochure from the table and flipped through it, his face getting redder and redder. The tension in the room rose to an unbearable, mortifying level, the presenter talking faster and faster, the banker realizing from the narrative that this was the wrong meeting altogether, that this was not “IT for Banking”. After several excruciating minutes, I bent forward and whispered: “The IT meeting is in the other building.” The man jumped up, mumbled an apology, and ran from the room, the door banging shut behind him. Ten minutes on, the participant next to me said: “He forgot his briefcase.” The presenter ignored the statement and moved to the next chapter.

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A typical hotel lobby where your next international business training may take place


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