I enjoy my job in corporate America, but my day to day life at work is somewhat different than I would have imagined in college. As a mid-level manager, my role consists of two main tasks: 1) leading meetings with people about topics I don’t understand and 2) creating PowerPoint presentations.
As to the former, here’s a snippet from a conference call I led yesterday with 2 statisticians. As you’ll see, by using a few well-placed, vague comments, I managed to pull off my role as meeting leader without being discovered for the fraud I really am.
Jim: My concern is if , then So, by including that set of values associated with variable X in our regression model, we’ll have the problem of perfect separation.
Me: I see. (Actually, I have no idea what you just said.) Steve, do you agree with this analysis?
Steve: Yes, Jim makes a good point. Let’s not forget, however, that
Me: So, Jim, can you please refine the regression model based on Steve’s suggestions?
Jim: Yes, I’ll do that this week.
Me: Great, I’ll send out an Outlook meeting invite for Monday to circle back on this action item. (Phew, I made it through without completely embarrassing myself.)
Side note: Because I managed to use “circle back” and “action item” in the same sentence, I earned 2 bonus points on my corporate scorecard.
The bulk of my job, though, revolves around less frightening work – creating PowerPoints. In fact PowerPoint is the main tool of communication at my company. We start a project, I draft a timeline in PowerPoint. We finish a project, I summarize the results in PowerPoint. I have an idea, it goes into PowerPoint. I need to use the restroom, I take my PowerPoint. In other words, I live out my days in PowerPoint Purgatory (PPP).
As I’ve observed, to make it out of PPP you must either 1) rise to a higher level of management (the preferable solution) or 2) fail miserably and be forced to go back and join the ranks of the people actually doing the work described in the PowerPoints.
Since a pre-requisite to upper management is being able to sound like an expert in your area when you’re not even sure who reports to you, I’m hopeful that a few more meetings with the statisticians just might spring me from purgatory.