Jan. 29th, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
A full-page ad in the FT this morning from Morgan Stanley.

"We are proud to introduce our new managing directors".

How many do you think there were?

Well, I dunno, because there were too many to count. But my guess would be about 250.

In India there is a three-letter abbreviation in business of "CMD". It's short for "Chairman and Managing Director". Companies only have one of them.

The point is, if Morgan Stanley's description is accurate, and all of these people are really managing directors, then Morgan Stanley is by definition too unwieldy. They couldn't hold a board meeting, for example.

But, as we know, the description isn't accurate. Managing Director isn't board level. It's middle management. It's just a way for employers to make stupid employees feel good about themselves.

It all started with the term "vice-president" and some American company (my guess would be Salomon Bros -- that seemed to rule the roost when it came to wankers in the 1980s. Then again, perhaps iot was Hollywood. Most new-word-shit seems to come from Los Angeles if you look hard enough). All of a sudden, "vice-president" did not mean what it said. It was just some vague term. Indeed, you could be "vice-president in charge of xxx", which is not even meaningless; it's a contradiction.

Now Morgan Stanley has decided to make the term "managing director" meaningless as well.

Does this matter? Well, for journalists, yes, it does. It's bad enough covering a business sector globally where the products are called different things in different places (what's the difference between general and non-life? When is casualty just another word for liability, and when is is accident? And what exactly is "third-sector" insurance? It all depends what country you are talking about). But this problem is compounded when job descriptions mean fuck-all.

These days I just eliminate the term "vice-president" and, doubtless, I will soon be eliminating the term mangaing director.

Unless it's a bloke in India.

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