The Insolvency Chronicles, Part 3

Posted on September 20, 2008

Lehman Brothers Office @745 7th Ave 

Saturday, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see you in my life!

You’ve finally brought closure to a madcap week filled with more drama, suspense, and uncertainty than an episode of 24. And when all is said and done – I’m still standing, though for how long can be anybody’s guess.  

For the moment, it seems like we (North American business/IT staff) have our jobs, or at the very least a severance package – Barclay’s seems to have agreed to hold onto the company’s employees for 90 days, or else pay the employees 20% of their salaries in severance. (This is all a matter of public record, so don’t worry – I haven’t been meeting anyone in parking garages after dark).

Perhaps even more interesting is that Barclays wanted the firm’s employees as much as the, business, data centers, and office buildings – it has identified a list of 200 “key” employees, and 8 “critical” employees – the majority from the former group and all from the latter group who are required to stay for the deal to go through. Who are the Lehman 208? Most likely some of the top traders and bankers – I won’t delude myself into thinking any lowly Java developers are included on the list! They will probably be paid a king’s ransom to stay, whereas we, the IT staff, who built the tools that made them so successful, can only watch and wait.

A good deal? It could be worse. It gives Barclay’s a chance to figure out what the heck to do with more than 10,000 new workers – the reorganization will be long, and probably very messy. It gives the employees their current salaries and/or severance packages – all very helpful while finding a new gig. And it’s a heck of a lot better than what the London workers got – the London headquarters was all but stripped of cash just before the bankruptcy, and the administrators actually had to borrow money to make payroll!

And thus, the “one firm” breaks itself apart – the vultures of Wall Street dividing the carcass among themselves.

This, my friends, is the reason you do not give your lives to a company. Of course, as a matter of personal and professional pride, you do your best at any task you are given, but when the rough times come, who are the people who will stand with you in the lion’s den? Only our loved ones – friends, family – those whose loyalty is not dictated by a balance sheet. Certainly not the executives, who probably liquidated their positions as the ship sank. Or senior management, which was absolutely clueless this week. 

After many a 10-12 hour day in the office, all they have for me is a note from the CEO claiming he “feels horrible.”

» Filed Under Everything and Nothing, Work


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