First job, first assignment, two lessons | Work

After so many years, I fondly recall one of my most dreaded moments…
quick read.

…the day I learned two crucial corporate lessons.

Here’s the story – 

I was working on my first project at my first real job.

One of the assignments was to create a pitch deck for the system solution we were planning for the client.

Since I had engineered most of the solution and (being new), I was considered most suitable for creating the deck that my VP would present to the client.

I spent days perfecting the deck with flows, bullet points, images, animation, colour, and the works (Minimalism was not a thing back then.)

Given that it was a high-value proposal, our CEO wanted the VP to do a dry run ahead of the meeting. Accordingly, I reviewed the deck and the placement of the information with the VP. After some minor changes, we were ready for the dry run.

The Dry-run

I should have been nervous about being in the CEO’s office, but I was calm because I was not the one presenting, and I was to do the page-turn and leave the rest to the VP to impress the big boss.

The presentation started very smoothly, and I was paying less attention to the words and more to the cue from the VP to move the slides.

Barely two slides after, the VP appeared uneasy and began coughing heavily. He tried to continue after a few sips of water, but it got worse.

Soon he was out of the CEO’s office, leaving me alone with him.

I still remember the CEO’s words that followed. He wished the VP would recover soon and asked me to continue the presentation. I was stunned. I had not prepared for this and wasn’t even paying attention to the discussion because my job was not present but to build the deck and do page turns.

I was done, I thought.

My turn

I gathered all the courage I could, collected my thoughts, and went ahead with the proposed solution without going through the slides in the given order.

I don’t recall what I blabbered and for how long, but it felt very long. I wished I had the severe cough instead and thought I had a nervous breakdown, but somehow I survived.

The Presentation day

When it was time for the client presentation, the VP and I did the presentation jointly – he positioned the high-level, and I would add the details and answer any technical questions.

After so many years, I fondly recall one of my most dreaded moments when I learned two crucial corporate lessons –

– Know your part well.
– Know your boss’ part well too.

You will be well prepared with that mindset, and it will help you stretch and uncover your skills beyond your known limits.

Thank you for reading.

Bye for now.


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