Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dear Mr Thomas Ho, (a public letter to the CEO of Gammon construction)

Doesn’t Time fly, Mr Thomas?
Your last Project Manager’s Briefing was 8 August; so much has happened since.
Four weeks ago on a very pleasant Thursday evening, you gathered together about a hundred of your top managers.  I was tasked with ghost writing parts of an Executive Director’s presentation.  
The food was excellent, the wineglasses refilled at regular intervals, the company jovial yet professional and focused.
Your closing speech was the highlight for me. Declaring my field as a critical focus for Gammon to develop, then calling me up to make another introduction:  ’BIM will take us into the future, I don’t quite know how to do it, but Zolna will tell us’. The Gammon way – Excellence, Integrity.

You were heard.
A couple of the people present at the evening took it literally, to the point that a few days afterward  they called me onto their site to help them devise a unique system that  would increase safety, improve compliance and make people more productive on their project.
Theirs was an exciting idea and I was very happy to assist, so we committed to come up with a working strategy within a week of meeting them.

This project never got off the ground, not under my helm anyway, as within one week of my ceremonial introduction to the cream of the company I was ambushed by two of your other directors. As we both know, the rest is history.

I recall some of the details of our last meeting, you sitting opposite me at the non-threatening circular table. You were the ‘good cop’ in the game that day, a privilege of being the CEO.
You told me that as the head of this company, you had the right to choose the people you staffed your teams with.
I could not agree more with that.

Then you followed this up, that as things were, I was no good for your team, did not fit in.
That’s it. Finito.

Believe it or not, Mr Ho – even this statement I would accept after only 11 or so weeks within the company. I was even prepared to take it on the chin, as you said, the chemistry was just not right – who am I to force myself on anyone?
And why should I? Even in this highly connected  industry where strange allegiances rule, I could find a place that someone will appreciate me for who I am and what I do.  

that you are the boss , The Boss, at Gammon, of the Gammon Way – EXCELLENCE, INTEGRITY.
Would you just swallow your pride and move on? These things did happen, but you make it more tricky. Your ship flies the “Excellence” flag, and far worse, the “Integrity” flag.
On only the tittle tattle of a struggling manager, you roared “you’re fired”. Integrity?  So you say.

Even if no one stands up for me, I must remind you that integrity has a narrow meaning.
(and I’ll remind you that English is not my native language.)

You have misused this “Integrity” word and continue to do so, everywhere you place Gammon banners, every official letter you print.
For the misuse of this word and the consequent damages, the fine/fee/tax is set pretty low at a share of a million US to be paid by you and your brother Leighton.
Your risk managers should probably agree. Or maybe not, I’m in no position to guess their stance of what constitutes ‘acting with integrity’.
The text books say that to look after shareholders, managers should look after staff, so the staff can look after the customers because with satisfied customers there are repeat orders, there is word of mouth; the customers look after the shareholders.

So, Mr Ho, pay up or take the word down. It is simple.
Then, we can both carry on building up our own teams with the right chemistries for the right tasks.
And with integrity?