I'm a company man; a man who commits to a firm he believes in. I've given my best years to this company. There's nothing more vital than knowing that my current and potential clients can depend on stability and consistency from Integrity Asset Management, but most of all, from me.
I know some of my competitors have a different approach, but I view institutional sales as like a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand. And William T Fitzgerald is the marrying type.
Of course, every now and again, along comes an opportunity that could be really beneficial for those people who trust my judgment and want to give me money but cannot find the right strategy within my current shop.
This has all happened very quickly, in the past two weeks. Please keep it quiet -- I don't need Jeff or Kim finding out.
Colinna is not the world's worst PA. She's brilliant with clients, just coquettish enough on the phone to make them all wonder, and sizzling enough in an Armani corporate miniskirt and boots to win their forgiveness when they visit the office at the wrong hour because she entered the wrong day in my diary.
However, screening calls is not her strong point, and Mimi Yip from Whittard's caught me at a weak moment -- as I had just completed last month's expense form. Mimi talked a good game: a chance to broaden my horizons, work in an international environment, management potential, a good set of strategies to sell, better performance than Integrity. But no matter how I pitched it, she didn't drop any hints about the firm in question. Arrrgh.
The Starbucks meeting
My interest (and competitive curiosity) piqued, I agreed to meet Ms Yip for a coffee to discuss more. She suggested a well-known coffee place in Alexandra House -- when I got there, it seemed like half the industry was in there spending their bonuses on java. I nodded a perfunctory hello to Gavin Price -- yes, he still fancies himself as my competitor -- who was sprawled comfortably on the leather sofa near the entrance. What a jerk.
Mimi's self-description made her easy to spot: "Five foot nought, wearing bright red lipstick." I figured best to join the line for the lattes first, track her down second. Done and done, and five minutes later her bright red lipstick had been transferred -- sadly, not onto my face -- to the rim of her white cardboard coffee cup.
Let's just say it's easy to see why she's a "people person". Petite, sure, but only in the right places. I couldn't tell you how quickly I'd have taken a job she had to offer, but I was ready to string along the discussion for as long as it could go.
But I'm a professional and that means everything to me. We kept the chit-chat strictly within the bounds of a recognised code. She referred to "the client" as looking for something a bit different, I declared my happiness and commitment to Integrity, and we both pretended to analyse a list of other potential candidates. But this was simply recruitment flirting. We both knew why we were there.
It was time for some initiative. "Mimi," I said, looking into her eyes and placing my finger gently on her knee, a clear signal that I take her seriously, "let's cut to the chase."
I could see she was impressed by my assumption of command. But she was still reluctant to reveal her client's identity, so I had to give her the signal. "If this turns out to be the right opportunity for me to further my career, I'll do it exclusively with you."
It was a bit of a gamble, to assume that Whittard's only has this on contingency, but instantly it paid off. Gravitas Global Advisors are looking for a new senior marketeer to cover ex-Japan Asia!
Never heard of them.
Googling like crazy
I was surprised I hadn't come across GgA before. They have a big footprint, starting in London and branching out globally over the past decade. One of the few mid-ranking houses that might actually make it to the big leagues, they just need to find the right attacking formation, especially here in Asia, the land of opportunity.
I reckon if I chase it, it's a gimme. Competition? Let's put it this way, they're not the sharpest pencils in the box. For instance, after visiting the men's room post-mocha, I spotted the little headhunter sidling up to Gavin Price on the sofa. They seemed like old friends; had to be, there's no way she'd be able to place a loser like him.
"Great to see you again, Mimi," I said as I strode past. "Hi Gav, see you next Tuesday."
Don't think he had a clue what I was talking about.
The next step
What? I need to send them my resume? William T Fitzgerald needs no such introduction, I say. You approached me, I say. Didn't you take notes in Starbucks, I say. Well, its little Miss Yip's lucky day, I was updating it just last weekend. I send it from my gmail account and we arrange the next meeting, with Mimi's boss Fifi (!), at their office in the Centrium. Maybe I'll take them both down to Dragon-i for a cocktail afterwards. That would surely be a time to remember!
Fifi takes no prisoners. Even shorter than Mimi, she makes up for this lack of stature with a fierceness seldom seen outside of the Mortal Kombat movies. What's my current package? What are my expectations? What's my notice period? Where will I be in five years' time? How angry will Integrity be? Bang bang bang, the questions keep coming. Fifi redefines the interview boundaries in no time, and I see how these two work together: one headhunter, one headshunter.
However, they have read my resume, and clearly know I'm the right man for the job. My only reservation at the moment is how they pronounce the company's name. Surely GgA should not be voiced as 'gig-gay'?
My offer of cocktails is politely turned down. "It's 10.30am," Fifi protests, still playing the bad cop. But I can see that Mimi was tempted.
There's a message on my phone when I get back to the office. GgA's regional COO will be in town next week and has personally asked to see me. I check my schedule -- blank -- then scribble a post-it note reminder to reply to Mimi tomorrow.
"Collina, don't schedule any meetings for Tuesday afternoon." Even she can get that part right.
William T Fitzgerald is a fictional character, as are all the other individuals and companies in "RFP Diary". Any resemblance to the living or to real firms is purely coincidental. Will's adventures continue fortnightly.