Near Death & (Welsh) Team Building

Stuart D was offered the role of International CIO at Howmedica (one of the SBU’s of Pfizer Hospital Products as it was known then) after being the lead KPMG partner overseeing a strategic review of our technology portfolio.

KPMG gave me this hat!
KPMG gave me this hat!

He actually joined as our European CIO due to a reorganisation in-between him accepting and arriving with a different boss to what he envisaged too but that’s another story best told by him!

Subsequently all was put right when he got promoted to be global CIO of Pfizer Medical Technology and relocated to the US, but before he left and appointed a replacement IT Director for Europe (Nic O.) he had the (great) idea to bond his newly restructured European MIS Management Team together by having a team building session in, yes you’ve guessed it , Wales!

His management team of six consisted at the time of Peter R – head of applications (of My Old Dutch fame – see previous post), Alan F – head of development (exclusively AS/400 RPG!), Marina J – head of service delivery, Steve T – head of security & myself  – planning, strategy & infrastructure.

The last supper
The last supper

Just to prove it’s a small world the facilitators he chose for the weekend just happened to be two of my officers in Int & Sy Gp (V), namely Captain David M and Lieutenant Henry D who operated as “The Paradigm Learning Group Ltd” at that time.

The proposal..
The proposal..

The team building event entitled “Accelebrating to Perform” was scheduled for 18th-20th January 1996 (yes dear readers, nearly 20 years ago!) at was held at Caer Llan in the Wye Valley, just up from Tintern where driving Stuart’s Jaguar car I managed to curb his passenger side front alloy wheel.

Obviously a future VP!
Obviously a future VP!

The weekend (remember Stuart is Scottish!) followed the normal theme of team development through forming, storming, norming and performing stages.  At that time we were definitely “storming”, Stuart because of his alloys, Alan because just before I’d called him pompous, Marina because I called her a whinger for not wanting to do anything physical, Steve as I’d described him as a “barrow boy”, Peter didn’t get off lightly either as his company car was a Ford Scorpio while mine was only a Ford Sierra…

I saw Stuart's wallet first (we later found out it was empty)!
I saw Stuart’s wallet first (we later found out it was empty)!

As a result I wasn’t totally assured when one of the first group tasks was for a “volunteer” to be hoisted up by rope a tall tree and remove a bottle of champagne that someone from Paradigm had placed in a box at the top.  Now given I was persona non grata with 100% of the people pulling me up on a pulley with no breaking system apart from the palms of their hands you can see dear readers how I approached this task with some trepidation.

Lynching, or winching?
Lynching, or winching?

That said, alcohol deprivation is a great healer and triumphant I was gradually lowered to the ground & somehow we started the bonding process.  Being a great hoarder of trivia (due to my appalling memory) I even have a copy of the song we wrote together celebrating the event so here goes:

There once was a VP from Staines
Who had outdoor events on the brain
He dragged us to Wales in clothes bought in the sales
We were never the same again

We didn’t much want to get mucky
Till Eastwood said “Do you feel lucky?”
And a strange Cary Grant who spoke more like my Aunt
Helped us to be much more plucky

We tramped through the mud and the mire
Till we thought we would never retire
Then a man in a mask said “Here is your task”
And Steve bounced him out by the fire

“Find a box” said a strange Mr Shark
Then we blundered around in the dark
As we puzzled and skied we all tried to succeed
It ended up being a lark

With Marina to map-read the way
We soon found where all the clues lay
If left to the rest we would have all gone West
She ended up saving the day

The box was high up in the tree
There was no easy way up to see
We sold Peter a pup, he was quickly strung up
And he got us some champagne for free

Now the moral of all this training
Is “Don’t try catching goats when it’s raining”
We met more than one horse while completing the course
Though I never heard Peter complaining

All friends together (now)...
All friends together (now)…
Near Death & (Welsh) Team Building

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