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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Tuesday, 19th June:

Well usual day really, get-up, get dressed, eat breakfast, walk to the office, and work! Nuff said?

I had a Cyprus project review meeting with one of my Team Directors during the middle of the afternoon, and we got chatting about the status of the Cyprus project and my other work commitments. More specifically, about the plan when I return in a couple of weeks time. He indicated that I was going to be given a new project today – related to our Greek partner – which sounded very intriguing. Maybe another excuse to come out more often to visit the market - to see you know who!!

We then went on to the programme of projects that I was currently kicking off here, as part of my work assignment. My team in Brighton view was that I would still be part of those projects when I return – but take a more “holistic” PM role – i.e. support role, rather than lead each projects. Now I understand this in terms of we would slowly take a more back-seat co-ordination role, but is this realistically going to happen here and now. I don’t think so.

Firstly, the Greek partner doesn’t have the resources or those with the necessary skill-set to actively lead them – in the way we do. But you could say the same on the resource-front with my team in Brighton too!

Secondly, the platform has just come through a very challenging period of time, where we had to overcome a fair number of issues. A lot of which could arguably been due to lack of overall ownership or management. So if were aiming to do the same for these “new enhancements” (projects) then aren’t we just going back to the same ol’ problem again? i.e. there is too much risk for things going wrong again in the next few months!

Thirdly, each of these new projects have very tight business timelines – to be deployed in Greece. For this to happen, not only does one have to have build up the relationships with GSS, ITS, WRT and Alpha Bank – but also drive them to completion. How is this going to happen if I were to take a more “relaxed” role?

Lastly, I think new “bigger” projects are meant to come my way when I return to Brighton. Personally, I rather concentrate and become very skilful on a specific “product” or “service”, and this loyalty think but be the thing to focus on!  Specifically, since I do not think I am going to get my promotion in my current team as-is, so feel its time to jump ship and get a promotion elsewhere!  If it (the loyalty programme) succeeds (and I think it will) there is soooo much potential in other markets.

Anyway, I took this on the chin, and decided to flag my concerns to the team who was sponsoring my work secondment. Because, ultimately, it is that team’s responsibility to drive the success of the scheme here in Greece, and they might be an opportunity on the offering – if they really want me to be continue to be part of it!!!

Whilst I was checking my e-mail, I received a note from my Expense Review Unit (ERU) – who normally process and reconcile my business expenses - who advised me that my latest expenses would not be processed without an EBT approval form. Hmmmm this may be a HUGE problem!

Lets take a review of the events leading up to my work secondment. In early-March, I was offered to take up this work secondment (still working on a number of “other” partner projects – but that’s a separate comment!!)  In accordance to AXP travel policies, if I were working on a business trip that lasts over 30 days but no more than 183 days, then this falls under something called an “Extended Business Trip” (EBT). This involves a vendor called Priceo which would process my EBT application, provide me the support I need to go to the market etc etc (involving agreeing a monthly “per diem” allowance, ensure I “settle” in, ensure HR, Tax, Compliance and all the other aspects are resolved or aligned as part of the trip). Well I raised this to my boss – VP, and my other Director, who both indicated that I should just go out there and not to worry about processing it as an EBT. BIG mistake. It’s the role of my leader to process the EBT application and oversee the process, ensuring I receive the support I require as part of the trip. Because of his crap attitude towards it, I instead went out with NO support – NOTHING! And now I’m left picking up the pieces of the huge mess.

I am losing out, because I have to use my personal money to cover the costs of my expenses (including taxis and other cash expenses – which I couldn’t use my corporate card for), and no one made sure I was settled in.

The effects? Well if my expenses are processed before the “cut”, I am going to incur Late Payment Charges (LPCs) and then have to deal with the hassle of sorting this all out. What an utter (but avoidable) mess! Who’s fault is this? Hmmmm .not mine! We’ll see, I’ve now escalated this to my new director, who became my direct boss during the first few weeks I was out in the market – I almost feel sorry for her too, as she now has to deal with the mess, retrospectively!!

I was meant to go out this evening, but I simply was snowed under. I left the office at 4.30pm, and still ended up working until 8pm (e-mails, reports etc). I decided to get room-service, as I couldn’t be bothered to go out for food, and continued working until 11.30pm. What a tough day this was – and I didn’t see my lady-friend today, sob, sob!!

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