Sisley Lowbank could see, partly hear, but mostly feel the 300 people waiting to hear her talk…

From here, from this moment, she loved it. Loved every single piece of it. Standing here, on the side of the stage was when she found her feet again. She could see, partly hear, but mostly feel the 300 people waiting to hear her talk. And that was all she needed. She was on. She was amped up and ready.

But then as she heard her self being introduced

“…and Sisley Lowbank is here today to….”

She had a thought that sent her back to the frenzied state that characterised the last 24 hours. Did she update the heading on the global infection rates comparison slide? It was the last change she had had to make and the bloody thing would have been perfect. Her mind started racing, who was in the audience that would notice?

She was sure she had glimpsed Peter and Andrea’s faces, they always travelled together, so they had company as they politely eviscerated whatever was in their sights.

And that was enough to taint the experience with discomfort for her. She didn’t even really want to be there anyhow. Andy was the real expert in this area, she had only put the submission in for this conference because she thought it would be good for the company, she though she would be able to convince Andy to take it on. And now she was going to look like an idiot. Humiliating.

After the presentation, in the holding pen where everyone was getting cups of tea and avoiding the inevitable task of meeting each other Rebecca made her luck happen…

“Sisley that was fantastic, thanks so much for your insights…”

Sisley was taken aback; she smiled sweetly and felt humiliated. She knew it had been a train wreck and that this young woman was trying to take a little of the sourness out of the experience, she appreciated it, she really did, but when she knew she was bad this just made it worse…

“Thanks, I felt under prepared…”

“Really? No sign of that out here! How did you come to the conclusion that the research…”

An awkward exchange rattled along for a few minutes and Sisley made her exit. Rebecca was left deflated. It was clear that she had not impressed Sisley, she had had her chance, she had admired her work for the last year and she had had this moment and, well, no go. Clearly, Rebecca thought, she had failed, had not asked the right questions or…whatever. She was not up to par for Sisley, and that was no surprise, today’s presentation alone put Sisley in another stratosphere, so she could kiss having her as a mentor goodbye.

As Sisley walked away she felt grateful to the young woman who had tried so earnestly to boost her spirits after such a terrible performance. A thought occurred to her, quickly she looked around to catch her eye, Rebecca would be perfect for the new project team she was putting together, as she looked over her shoulder she saw her get in an elevator and disappear. She hadn’t taken her card, she knew nothing about which division she worked in…

“I’m sure she will contact me…”
Sisley thought
“…she seemed so keen!”

By Luke Hockley


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