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Careering down the corporate ladder

Hi Shelli,

Any advice for climbing the career ladder? I seem to be stuck!




It could be worse, you could actually be moving DOWN the career ladder at a rapid rate. (I seem to be doing this rather well at the moment. So this week, instead of being a good example – I am going to be a horrible warning...)

You see, one of my many portfolios is that I handle high-level copywriting for a very big client. They entrust me with the enormous task of communicating with their public at large, a job I take very seriously. But every now and then, the meetings get a bit too much for me and I develop what is commonly known as a KA (“Kak Attitude”). And if they happen to coincide with late nights, tight deadlines, PMS and a bad-hair day, then I am just a walking nightmare to be around. I don’t even like myself.

And so, I screamed into my client’s parking lot at 9.02 that Thursday morning for an incredibly insightful and deeply riveting presentation on the new Consumer Protection Act – a presentation that was scheduled to last four very long hours. And while I was not entirely sure why I had been invited to attend, I felt that it was a good idea to show solidarity and support (blah blah happy jolly hockey sticks blah blah) and so I arrived.

Having worked up until 2am that morning. Not had breakfast before I left. And chosen to blowdry my hair instead of having a cup of coffee.

Bad choice, as it turns out, because the fact that I was a few minutes late for the meeting meant that I had missed out on the world’s best cappuccinos and was made to sit down immediately.

It took about ten minutes for me to realise that this was indeed a Very Important Meeting Shelli – even the Big Boss was there absorbing the latest legal blah blah information with enormous concentration. The lady next to me was diligently taking notes (in both black and red pen), and everyone seemed remarkably absorbed.

Except for me. I was hungry. I was thirsty. And I had loads of work to be done by that afternoon.

I was also completely and utterly fixated on the enormous bowl of biscuits in the centre of the board room table.

(Oh my gosh, if I could even BEGIN to describe these biscuits to you – shortbread, choc-chip and caramel mouthfuls of loveliness all individually wrapped and waiting to be devoured.)

But no-one touched them! Not one single person in that god-forsaken room so much as LOOKED at these little packets of temptation, never mind ATE one.

I was horrified – what kind of people was I working with?

Eventually – after four very long hours in which people sipped elegantly on their bottled water, asked insightful and thought-provoking questions that sparked very intelligent debates around the table, I had taken to humming quietly to myself and spoonerising everyone’s name. In fact, I was just snorting about Kate Hids opposite me when I realised that the meeting had ended. I was so delirious from hunger and caffeine-withdrawal that I had missed the last two hours.


I quickly packed up my notepad (unused), checked Facebook and re-applied my lipgloss when it struck me. The biscuits were still there. In the middle of the table. Untouched and virgin-like in their shiny little packets.

A quick calculation revealed that if I had eaten one biscuit every 15 minutes throughout the meeting, I could have consumed at least 16 of the little morsels! Which TECHNICALLY meant that if I were to take a few WITH me in the car to eat on my way back to the office, it wouldn’t be too bad, would it?

Famous last words.

I hurriedly grabbed an entire handful of biscuits, shoved them into my bag, slung it over my shoulder and walked out of the boardroom before my conscience could make itself heard through my hypoglycemic fog. In fact, I was so guilt-stricken that when the Big Boss called my name just as I was about the step over the threshold and into the passage where she was waiting, I tripped. In what can ONLY be described as a slow-motion sequence you would see on TV, I caught my heel on the doorframe, fell forward, and grabbed my handbag as it flew out of my hands.

And would you believe that I actually caught it?

SUCH a pity that I only managed to grab the bottom of the bag though, and that about eight of my recently-acquired biscuits flew out and landed on the passage floor. One even came to rest ever-so-gently against the Big Boss’s shoe.

What’s a girl to do? I calmly picked up my bag, re-packed my/ their stash of biscuits, thanked them VERY much for a VERY insightful meeting, and sauntered off to my car.

I think I am still blushing.

And the WORST bit is that it has never been spoken about. Not once. (Well, to me anyway). But I have yet to attend another meeting where there are biscuits in the middle of the table. I can only think that they are cutting costs?

And so, my angel, to make a LONG story boring – I have no idea how to climb the corporate ladder, when it seems that I am just clinging on myself. All I can suggest is that you go the extra mile, start every day with a “Can Do” attitude, and ALWAYS have both coffee and breakfast before leaving for work! Trust me!


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