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“My boss works in the corporate office.  He is not to be confused with my immediate supervisor, the site Project Manager…who is a great guy.  My boss is not a great guy. ”

I wrote about this (or as one of my detractors said, I “whined” about this) in a previous blog post entitled Sucks.

The post was about a project I was on out in the boondocks and how miserable the assignment I chose was.  One might notice in the above that I indicate that my immediate on-site supervisor, the site Project Manager was a great guy.  He was…however, my corporate supervisor…was not.  Well, things got worse but in spite of having an incompetent as a corporate boss, I trudged on.  A couple of weeks after I wrote that post, the project manager resigned.  And, when he did, so did a number of the construction supervisors I had developed very close rapports with.  The result of their resignations had major impacts on my position.  Allow me to give you some background.

What I do is project controls.  A good and simple definition of project controls is this:

“Project controls is that element of a project that keeps it on-track, on-time and within budget.”

Project controls (PC) is a subset of project management.  And, though project controls engineers more often than not know as much or more about construction management as the project management team does, seldom is it the other way around.  Most good project controls engineers started in project management and then, due to a gillion different reasons, settled into their current PC position.  That was the case with me.  In many ways it can be compared to quality assurance.  Just as quality assurance is charged with guaranteeing the project is constructed to specification, project controls is charged with assuring the project is built according to a well thought out and logical plan and that construction management sticks to that plan…and does so on-time, and with the amount of monetary and labor resources that were allocated.  QC assures that what is built is done correctly…PC gauges measures how the work is done.  Both QC and PC are independent and report directly to the overall site manager/project manager.  The rationale for their independency is that if there is a quality assurance or project controls issue and those two groups work for and report to construction management that the construction group would have the ability to simply squash whatever concern might be raised.  On projects, QC and PC are the project manager’s guns; construction management is their target.  That analogy implies there is an adversarial relationship between QC/PC and construction management.  In the past, twenty years or so ago, that was often the case, but not so much anymore.  Professional construction personnel now fully realize that their job is not made more difficult by the two groups, but considerably easier.

So, what’s my point?

When the project manager on my project resigned from the project, he was not replaced.  Instead, the construction manager was assigned to assume both roles, construction manager and project manager.

Things quickly digressed to the point that upon returning from the Christmas Holidays, one week ago today, I was more than miserable.  For the first time in my career I had found myself in a position that was simply unacceptable.  I had supervisors that were borderline incompetent, not to mention extremely difficult to communicate with.  I was shackled to an earned value system that made it all but impossible to measure project progress and a P7 schedule (I didn’t develop) that had 167 constraints I was forbidden to remove.  And, I was on a project that had no project manager.  To myself, I wondered just what the hell the company I was working for was thinking.  Last Monday night, I went home and told my husband I was resigning…he supported me completely.  Enough truly became…enough.

Tuesday morning, at 5:15, I sat down at my desk and wrote the following e-mail to my superior:


 Please be advised this is my letter of resignation and two week notice.  Effective January 14, 2012 I will no longer be an employee of the XXXXXXXXX group.  Having spent two months in this position, I find that the overall approach and culture, as it applies to Project Controls, does not match my career goals and aspirations.  I fully realize I could be released from employment upon your receipt of this letter but in the event I’m not I will do my best to train my replacement or assist in any way that will minimize potential discontinuities within the XXXXX-XXXXXXXXX project.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve the XXXXXXXXX group.

I sent the e-mail…and waited…and waited.

I got no reply.  As monkeyed up as this project was, even to me not receiving any reply was downright weird.  Surely someone within the company would respond.  But, they didn’t.

The next day, last Wednesday, I was done…and I mean done.  I couldn’t make myself do any more work at all and staying even one more minute son-site was not an option.  I wrote another e-mail…it went like this:

In my resignation letter to you I mentioned I would stay on until next Friday to “train” my replacement.  In reality, there is nothing to train that person on, in event you could get someone in that quickly in the first place.  The schedule, which you aware I think is useless, can easily be handled by XXXXXXX or yourself.  The progress/earned hours process has crashed and is all but uncalculatable under the current circumstances you have presented me with; it has been a challenge on every front regarding the progress.  Construction management here on site could care less about either the schedule or progress; they are old school, used to doing it their way, and march to their own tune.    The truth is there is little I can offer my replacement in the way of training for it will be up to that person to wade through the issues they face…something I can’t help them with.  Upon sending this e-mail I will be leaving the project.  I’m done.

So, I punched in the e-mail address of my boss.  I immediately got a message at the top of the screen that said the e-mail was undeliverable because the e-mail address no longer exists.  Uh oh!  So, I changed the address to that of my boss’ boss…and got the same message.  That, I thought, was hilarious…but chuckled to myself that it kind of sucked for my boss and his boss, though.

Quickly, I called my counterpart at the corporate office (who was a super guy and of whom knew I had resigned) and told him the situation.  I told him to not look now, but I thought maybe our bosses had been fired.  He was shocked.  I told him I was done and leaving the project but if he thought about it to call me when he found out what was going on…he said he would.  I was already packed, had cleaned out my office, and had turned in my company cell phone, etc.  I signed out and left the most worthless, good for nothing, and miserable project I’d ever been on.

Once on the road, I called my husband and told him what had happened.  We both laughed, with him saying, “It’s a hell of a note when you’re trying to resign from your job and can’t find anyone to turn in your resignation to because they are being fired.”  Too true…

About two hours later, as I’m driving back to Houston, my friend from the corporate office calls me.  He said to me, “it’s official.”  It turns out that the afternoon of the morning I resigned they fired my boss…and his boss, the VP of Project Controls.  They also fired the CEO/COO and the VP of Construction Services.  The CEO/COO was said to have stepped down to pursue other interests…which is always corporate speak for being terminated.  While the two VPs and my boss were said to have taken a direction that was not conducive to the long term objective and goals of the company.  What a clusterfuck.  I’ve never been more happy to get out of Dodge in my life.

Quite a story, huh?

In other news…the project manager on the job above…who himself resigned around the first part of December got word of my departure.  Last Friday, two days after I left, he called me up and offered me a position working with him on a $955 million refinery expansion for a major oil company near where I live.  The position will be, as they say, on the owner’s side.  I will head up the project controls section and represent the owner.  The job is straight up project management, and I won’t have to move away…it’s close enough for me to be home each night.

Things work out…


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