Janet Pywell ellie Bravo“Thanks for that newspaper cutting you left on my desk last week.”

I slide into the seat opposite Maria in the boardroom. “I think you might have saved my skin.” She bites into a biscuit and pushes the crumbs absent-mindedly into a small heap on the table. “What happened?” she asks.

“Thanks for that newspaper cutting you left on my desk last week.” I slide into the seat opposite Maria in the boardroom. “I think you might have saved my skin.”

She bites into a biscuit and pushes the crumbs absent-mindedly into a small heap on the table. “What happened?” she asks.

“We got it! OUT In Belfast, the new city magazine, they’re launching a new product and website. We’re redesigning their existing web, and hosting the site for the entire group of OUT magazines in the UK and Ireland.”

Maria raises her coffee cup. “Congratulations.”

“I owe you a drink. I would never have seen it in the paper.”

John is panting and perspiring when he arrives.

He flops into the nearest chair.

“Simon said, you got the contract signed with OUT magazines.” As he speaks he leans passed me for a chocolate cookie, and when he eats, crumbs sprinkle down his shirt. He flicks at them with a chubby hand leaving a smeared stain. “So, I’m going to give Liam this account to look after.”

“It was Stuart who helped me.”

“He’s too busy. Anyway, I’m the one who manages the schedules, so I’ll decide who’s looking after what accounts. But we need bigger companies where there’s more money to be made, Elly. I’m surprised someone as qualified as you would bother with small fry deals like this.” He grunts as he reaches to fill a mug with coffee and spills milk on the table. “Still, I suppose, once you get burnt out in London, you loose your luck. Just make sure you don’t get your fingers burnt over here.” He winks at Maria.

Simon comes in and tosses a red file on the table between us unaware of the tension and animosity.

“As I see it,” he says, “there are two possibilities. We can expand on our software programming and App development, or buy a retail outlet, and provide hardware components and sell to the public.” He looks expectantly at us.

“Why don’t we carry on the way we are?” John asks.

“We’d be bankrupt in a year,” Maria replies, “We haven’t increased our sales only our costs.”

John looks at me. “We’re over staffed.”

“Selling hardware is not only a big risk but a huge investment.” I lean my elbows on the table. “We will be up against major companies who sell high volumes on the internet or have a major retail outlet already established. We cannot compete by diversifying in that direction. If you don’t expand and branch into Apps and games, it’s back to basic online marketing. The only thing that makes financial sense is competing for tenders, targeting potential new companies, upgrading existing customers, networking-”

“I’d need staff if we expand,” John interrupts.

“I agree. You need trained staff.”

“Liam and Stuart are well trained,” John blusters.

“I mean someone who works in sales, who can close a deal.”

“I sell! That’s my job!” John slams his fist on the table.

“Well, as I see it, you had the Zenfitness deal all lined up. It was in the bag, you said-”

“That’s how we do business in Belfast,” John raises his voice.

“Then maybe that has to change,” I say deliberately quietly. My eyes lock with John’s.

I need confrontation today. It’s about time I made a difference.

“I like your proposal Elly. I like the idea of expanding on App development.” Simon eyes are cast at my report in front of him. “Let’s explore this further.”

An hour later I am behind my desk, deleting four unanswered calls from Kat (my ex) when Maria appears in the doorway.

“Well, the sparks certainly flew in there. You caused a stir.”

“It’s been waiting to happen.” I turn my attention from my mobile to her. “I’d prefer to know where I stand. I can’t bare people saying one thing and meaning another. I went through that in my last job. At least John and I both know where we stand now.”

“Open warfare?”

“No!” I shake my head. “Not on my part. I don’t want to fight with anyone. I’m only thinking of what’s best for the company.”

“So is Simon. He’s sending John on a sales course!”

“Not before time.”

“So, how about celebrating the OUT contract? What about that drink you owe me! Michael’s working all week in Dublin and he’s not back until Saturday. We could go out on Friday night. I could collect Lily from ballet and take her to my mother’s and we could meet up?”

“Great!” This is the last thing I expect. I am beaming happily but desperately trying to arrange my features so that I don’t look too pleased or too excited.