"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adventures in Secretaryland

Email conversation a few weeks ago:

Industry Executive's Assistant (IEA): "Hi Recent Ph.D., I hear Think Tank Boss wants to meet with Industry Executive at our office in City Three Hours Away. Let's find a date and time."

Me: "Hi IEA, How about Days X, Y, and Z? Anytime after 11 AM since TTB will be driving."

IEA: "OK, Let's say Day Y. Send me an Outlook meeting request."

Me: "Sure, will do."

So, I create the meeting request and send it off to Industry Executive's Assistant, who then "accepts" the meeting. We're set. Think Tank Boss will go drive three hours to meet Industry Executive, talk about the great work Think Tank is doing, politely ask if Industry Executive's company would like to "support" Think Tank this year, hopefully receive a positive response, and drive three hours home.

At least ... that's how it usually works. However, this time, Industry Executive's Assistant added the meeting to hir own calendar rather than Industry Executive's calendar. IEA can see IE's calendar but not the other way around. IE had no idea about the meeting. And Think Tank Boss drove three hours to Other City only to find Industry Executive was not in the office but here in Crapital City today!

Industry Executive's Assistant was mortified. Ze said ze thought I had also sent a meeting request to Industry Executive. But why would I do that when IEA was so clearly the person who kept IE's calendar?Also, you can see who else the meeting request was sent to. And if IEA saw this thing on hir calendar but not IE's and saw IE had never been "invited" in the first place, ze should have sent an email or made a phone call to confirm or reschedule.

At first I thought I had screwed up because IEA asked me specifically to send an Outlook meeting request. I know my way around Outlook, but we use Google Calendar here. I thought maybe there was just something I'd missed. But no. The same thing would've happened if I'd used Google. 

Think Tank Boss had every right to be pissed but took it very well. At least there wasn't an expensive plane ticket involved. The meeting was rescheduled for next week, when ze will have to drive three hours each way again. I will confirm with IEA the day before this time, though normally such back-and-forth is unnecessary.

Hopefully, IE's company will make a substantial donation. Then all will be well.


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