1 afternoon, 2 conversations

I’ve been roped in to conduct some behavioural event interviews to assess Leadership qualities.
I generally dread doing work like these.
I am painfully introverted to begin with.

I don’t fancy writing lots of words down – the reports just sap all my energy; as difficult to understand and contradictory as it may seem for someone with numerous blogs and moonlight as a content writer.
I didn’t understand why I had to meet the first woman.
She’s after all attached to an independent subsidiary which have not been acquired and – as the grape vine goes – will not attain the central bank’s approval for a re-sale. Hence, I took a cursory glance at her profile, consoling myself that even if I had sincerely put effort in reading it, I would only comprehend 40% of the highly technical and jargon embedded resume.
The second woman was a swap with my actuarial risk consulting colleague he reasoned logically that he should be speaking to my candidate as he had earlier assess the counterpart of the other merging entity.

The swap was interesting.
I got a medical doctor. Yes, a qualified MBBS who’s part of an underwriting team.
But forgive me… what do I ask a doctor? What does a doctor do in underwriting?

“interesting” I murmured more to myself.

To which my colleague responded:

it’s an experience. it will be interesting if anything.”

– – – – – – –
Omission of truth for the preservation of the dead’s dignity
– – – – – – –

I’m constantly balancing the need to satisfy 3 governing policies; the medical board, the central Bank and the company. Technically the company has the right to know as it pays for the tab. But there’s the righteousness of the doctor-patient confidentiality as well,” she goes on to explain.

Then there was a long pause.

With her, it’s difficult. It started off painfully with mono syllabus answers or hypothetical responses.

If not, she rattles on with medical terminology, repeating the terms rather than simplifying it to plain English for the lay man. I was close to telling her: “oi! I am not deaf. I don’t understand what-the-freaking-hell stenosis is!

And then, out of the blue she stares at me and finally said:
“Here’s a specific example for you. There was this guy. He was young and healthy. Happy, bubbly. Everyone knows him. People loves him. He fell ill. Got hospitalised and died. The hospital got in touch with me and handed me his medical reports and autopsy. Cause of death pneumonia.”
Long pause … at this point I nearly pee-d in my pants.
Not that the story was all that exciting and what she had said was hardly a cliff hanger.
I just have had one two many coffee for the day, had rushed back from lunch at the poolside with my actuarial risk director and skipped the toilet en route.
My do-not-pee concentration was broken with: Do you know why he died?
I replied pneumonia in a deadpan manner and did an imaginary brow wiping with the back of my hand ‘phew!’ … and all of a sudden it strike me.
I could only manage a whisper: “HIV+
She nodded and clenched her teeth before finally saying:
I kept it as pneumonia. I never told anyone. It’s on his death certificate. I submitted that to HR for processing. I weighed it. The financial impact was immaterial to the organisation. Let him go with dignity …

– – – – – – –
An outcast and self exiled vagabond saviour
– – – – – – –

“I don’t need to be in Gaza. Or to help the poor and desolated in Libya.
I changed a stranger’s life here.
Charity begins at home.
Charity comes from the heart and is private.”
Interestingly we were never born conceited.
Or to judge … and if that’s not bad enough, somewhere between birth and puberty we acquired the skills to ostracise… something we perfected with more cunning abilities to mask with pretense and timely punctuated sarcasm.
Faced with such cruelty, she tells me of a story where short of being reduced to a total wrecked which would be a big disappointment to her 6 year old son who needed her to be strong, she fled some 16,000 kilometers to seek refuge in a country that did not know her, her past, or her future.

In the course of 5 years, she rebuild her self esteem, established her son in a new land where his not labelled and mentally strong to handle an stigma, and started an illustrious career. However, she finally made the tough decision to return to provide her son a sense of being Malaysian and a Muslim, only to realise that her return would mean displacing someone at work.

As fate have it, her contract was water-tight that as an outbound expatriate, she was guaranteed a return to her home country.

As fate have it, it wasn’t just someone.
It was someone who was at the same life crossroads as she was 5 years ago, but only financially worse and was in a real need for employment.

Without hesitation, she worked a ‘deal’ with the local human resources team to swap places.
6 months of unemployment resulted, she never regretted it once.

– – – – – – –

I’m writing this hours after meeting two amazing women this afternoon.
By the time this is published they would have been names in boxes. And I am positive they would be filling the right boxes.

As for my colleague, he was more than right!
I’m blessed to have met such amazing steel women.

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