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It’s All About Who You Know

, , , , , , | Working | November 13, 2020

After several years at my first professional job after college, I’m promoted to supervisor of a small group of engineers doing design and analysis of power plant equipment. I supervise the group’s daily activities but have almost no say in who is hired for or assigned to the group.

One Monday morning, I’m called into my manager’s office to be introduced to a new hire engineer assigned to my group. He’s right out of college but seems well qualified.

After about six months, he starts finding excuses for not getting his work done. He’s married with a child on the way, and it seems he needs the job. We discuss his productivity, but things just keep getting worse.

After nine months, he comes in, tells me he’s quitting, and starts gathering up his personal belongings into a briefcase that I have not seen before. The briefcase has a name tag with his name and the title “Vice President of Research” for a company with “[Family Name] Engineering” in a city about a hundred miles away. Turns out his father was the company founder and gave him the vice president job upon graduation, pending working a year in the industry.

Apparently, nine months was good enough for the father. His salary was going to be about double what I was making at that time. The idea was for him to eventually take over the company. We never heard from him again. I hope he worked for his father’s company better than he did for us.

This story is part of our Best Of November 2020 roundup!

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