Into the lioness' den
The day she chose to fly back to London was also one of the coldest and darkest days of the year. It should have been the beginning of the English summer, but natural gas prices jumped to £5.00 per therm. It was enough to make some energy trading companies bankrupt.
She was directed to work for the head trader. Apparently, she was to work on a project started by an MBA who didn't make it.
The story was that her predecessor had been working on this project for months. While she was away on holiday, one of her colleagues looked at her work and found that she had accomplished nothing. On the day she returned from her travels, she was sacked. Everyone on the trading floor watched as a personnel officer escorted her from the building.
This was a horror story. Having just returned from her comfortable life in Houston, she was now too scared to take time off to hunt for a place to live. Besides, it was a seller's market. In the booming economy, it was nearly impossible to find an affordable place. So she decided to focus on her project and look for a place near the office.
Meanwhile, another female colleague suddenly disappeared. She was "borrowed" by another department - and decided that she didn't like working there. After her assignment ended, she tried to return to her old department. But they didn't want her. When she tried to stay in the department that borrowed her, they didn't want her either. So she was without a job.
These two horror stories confirmed one thing: as a woman, there's a risk of being sacked by the female head trader. Indeed, after these two departures, she didn't see other women entering the picture. Only after the head trader got promoted, did other women start to appear.
By then she had successfully completed the project but overstayed in the company flat by three months. As a result, she had to pay more than half her salary to cover her overstay. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) the head trader was pleased with her work and wanted to retain her services. Thinking that having a powerful champion in the company was a good thing, she agreed to move into the trader's department.
12 December 2001 Wednesday