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But Can She Demo Her Capabilities?

, , , , , | Working | April 10, 2022

I work in a highly-specialized but rapidly growing field of engineering. My company specializes in niche design software for some of the most complex design questions. These are typically questions that four or five PhDs with a hundred years of experience between them couldn’t answer without our software.

Nevertheless, our marketing director has decided to be… willfully ignorant… about exactly what we do. She is smart and capable enough to LEARN, at the bare minimum, the basics. She just chooses not to. She is also the kind of person who likes the sound of her own voice and refuses to listen to anyone, especially if it is another woman, which — surprise! — I am.

We are in a meeting when, out of the blue, she asks a random question.

Marketing Director: “What is the status of the demo?”

Me: *Taken aback* “Uh, can I ask what the demo is pertaining to?”

Marketing Director: “The GUI demo! It is top priority.”

We have several Graphical User Interfaces in the works right now, and as the project lead, I am not aware of us being at any stage to create a demo. But maybe she means a previous GUI? Or even something other than a demo?

She has a habit of miscalling critical projects, no matter how many times I correct her. For example, we have a project called Baseball and another called Cube. She will frequently refer to both projects as Baseball despite them doing two very different things. It’s the same with the word “demo,” which can mean anything from an actual demo to a demo video, a tutorial, or training material.

Me: “I was unaware that this was a priority. Can I have a little more detail on it? Like what this demo hopes to accomplish?”

Marketing Director: “It always has been a priority!”

Me: “Well, I have no knowledge of it, so let’s talk about what you are looking for.”

Marketing Director: “Are you telling me I am going to have to wait three months to get this done?”

Ah. Well, that at least narrows “the GUI” down. I am able to pinpoint what GUI she is talking about based on the project completion date, so I can proceed.

Me: “The work on [Correct GUI] is optimization. It won’t affect the branding so we can work on a demo, but I am going to need a bit more information. For that, I would like [Owner] present to give his feedback.”

Marketing Director: “I want a demo of the capabilities! Are you telling me I cannot get a demo on the capabilities?”

Me: “What do you intend to do with this marketing-wise? Li—”

Marketing Director: *Cutting me off* “The capabilities! Like what it does! Can we do that?”

Me: *Pauses* “I don’t understand the question.”

Here she goes on a tirade that I just kind of space out on because, at this point, I know she doesn’t even know her marketing message or her target audience. She is expecting me to do this all for her.

Me: “As I have stated, I don’t understand the question. As I explained several times before, the GUI doesn’t have any new functionality or capabilities. It is a wrapper for our current command-line capabilities. We can make a demo, but we need to know who you want to market for, and [Owner] should provide feedback on what he wants to use it for so it is multi-functional.”

Marketing Director: *Beaten but annoyed* “Well, do you have any questions for me?”

Me: “Do you have a statement of work for this demo so we can work it in?”

She didn’t answer and instead opted to change the subject before leaving shortly after. We will see if we get that Statement of Work or if she is going to keep acting like it is done until someone gives in.

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