In which Sarah discovers all that glisters is not gold
Sarah was not happy!
The new job with Fashco Plc was all she could have dreamed of and more. The fastest growing fashion company in the FTSE100, the highest profits in the retail sector and with a soaring share price, it was a company going places in a global market place. Head of Social Media Marketing, working closely with design and PR, she really was in a cutting-edge role.
It seemed an age ago when she had been whisked off to London early that morning in Nigel Tort’s chauffer driven Jag. She had been ensconced in a company flat, high up in a new tower block on the Isle of Dogs. That first evening, she had been left on her own (thankfully) as Nigel had had to make an appearance at his country home. She had raided the well-stocked fridge, poured herself a very large glass of Pinot Grigio and sat on the balcony. As the sun set she gazed down at the Thames and across to the Old Royal Naval College and the green expanse of Greenwich Park.
Her phone rang and seeing it was John again, she ignored it; she could safely say that he was a part of her past.
The next few weeks went by in a blur. Nigel appeared on occasional evenings, took her to dinner at some of the most exciting new restaurants and would spend the night (or part of it) with her. He introduced her to the team at the offices of Tort, Precedent & Wisdom as a PR consultant, reporting directly to him. Sarah was delighted to find that the position paid an attractive salary, despite remaining very unclear about her exact responsibilities. A dress allowance and company credit card soon followed. She was advised that it wasn’t necessary to inform anyone in the company of her address though.
The social whirl with Nigel worked in exactly the way Sarah had hoped. Soon she was mixing with main board members of some of the largest and most progressive companies. Anxious to make the most of these unique opportunities, she played the role that Nigel obviously expected of her with perfection. She would use the evenings Nigel spent at his country home meticulously researching the companies, their markets and key personnel.
Rubbing up against the great and the good at the dinners and charity events Sarah attended brought many opportunities for a little extra ‘overtime’. Sometimes she would strike lucky finding that not only would her ‘project’ live up to the promise of his looks but his real potential would be reinforced. Sometimes, when faced with the knowing looks of the Uber driver who took her back to her Docklands tower in the early hours, she would feel a little ‘grubby’. However, she would push the fleeting sensation from her mind, telling herself only fools failed to take advantage of life’s opportunities.
Nigel never mentioned her ‘overtime’, and the lifestyle continued. However, there was an implicit understanding that Sarah’s lifestyle and her vague status at TPW brought heavy responsibilities and the expectation of the achievement of substantial goals.
When Sarah brought the unquestionable prize of a new client in the form of Fashco to TPW, Nigel’s investment and tolerance had paid off in spades for him. With its newly won elevation to the FTSE 100, Fashco offered serious long-term returns.
Sarah’s own reward came in the form of her new role with Fashco and a parting bonus of some size from Nigel. A peck on the cheek, a whispered “Good girl, keep in touch” and a squeeze of her nether regions and she was off and away.
Not only had Sarah pulled off a pay packet that would have had her old boss at The Bugle turning puce with envy, she had a shiny new BMW, a substantial expense account, business class travel and samples of the finest fashion (even if she did have to drop a dress size of two). She’d had to move out of the TPW tower but she’d found a super flat she could afford in up and coming Dalston, the new heart of London’s swinging fashion scene.
But the best aspect of Fashco, its real potential for Sarah, lay not in the job but in the form of Jeff, its CEO, who had been instrumental in engineering her appointment. Yes, there had been the initial ‘overtime’ which brought its immediate rewards in ways Sarah had never dreamt of and then the new job. But the real potential prize was Jeff, early forties, handsome, wealthy and single. She sensed a prize beyond her wildest dreams was within her reach.
Every day now brought fresh challenges and excitements. Spring had brought the annual whirl of international fashion shows. She had jetted off to New York, Hong Kong, Milan and Paris. She was now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Stella McCartney and many more. In fact, she was beginning to acquire a reputation as one of the cognoscenti.
But the sad aspect of much of this travel was that whilst Sarah had to cover entire fashion shows over an extended period, Jeff might just fly in for one dinner or not at all. Their relationship, if she was brutally honest, was irregular, ill-defined and therefore uncertain.
Then came the bombshell – a hostile takeover bid for Fashco from a Chinese corporation looking to expand its global reach into yet another sector. Months of uncertainty followed with little or no contact from Jeff who seemed to be working 36 hours a day. A fierce defence was mounted by the board but to no avail; the City seemed to think the takeover was a route to riches.
The morning after the completion of the takeover, arriving early in the office, Sarah learnt that Jeff had resigned and no-one knew of his whereabouts. Minutes later, the new management swept into the offices in force and announced sweeping changes to Fashco’s strategy which would bring significant redundancies, including hers. Worst still, whilst in the Ladies Room later that morning, she overheard two of the other women giggling about Jeff’s bisexuality!
Sarah, hid in her office and wept with frustration; these were not the rewards that she had envisaged!
Ah, well, she thought, win some, lose some!
Note: we await further news of Sarah…