Letter no. 39: The Exit Interview

images (1)She had the law in her hands, a fierce woman who had lived independently all her life, a boss to some thousand employees…

He was a top agent whose tongue is designed to sell, with a work ethics who can set the standard and kill the metrics anytime….

Two faces sitting across each other on a blank square table, both ready for the conversation that would change their lives forever- the exit interview.

Dear Michael,

May 2009.

Meet Ms Katherina Holsy, half Belgian-half Filipina with other blood mixes running on her name; an executive business partner in one of the leading BPO companies in the country. She is a lawyer herself who decided to build a name in the outsourcing industry as a company lawyer and business partner under human resource. She acted as a company consultant as well for procedures of recruitment, transitions and exits. At 33, she still looked stunning despite the pile of papers she’s handling and signing everyday. Her sophisticated aura coined her few A.K.A’s from employees on the floor: The terror, The boss, Ms K. She’s all that, a woman of dignity without a sense of humor. She’s a woman of one word- “win”. She hasn’t lost any case to add by far.

Meet Gregg, a top performer agent whose tongue was designed to talk and sell, and noted, yeah… be sold. He pretty much got most of the perks the company had offered. He talks so well on phone for his colleagues to call him the god of telesales on the floor. He worked for the same company as Ms K’s, under a telecommunication account. At 23, he considered his job temporary. He knew some other profession out there was waiting for him to fill his toes in. He paused for college due to financial constraints where he took up a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

One time on a busy rainy Monday, their paths met for an important conversation they didn’t know would change both their lives. Gregg was resigning from his work and Ms Katherine was the personnel assigned to conduct the exit interview with him.

It was a busy Monday and the rain was pouring heavily. Ms Katherine was running out of time as she dragged her SUV to the garage, right just near the building where she was working. She pulled her trench coat out of his carseat and grabbed some documents that she’s supposed to sign in that morning but she forgot due to a lot of other paper she needed to work on the night before. She rushed towards the glass door and almost got lost as she passed through the crowded lobby, full of employees waiting for the next elevator to swallow and drop them to the world of telephones. In a call center industry, everywhere you look is so fast paced. People are always in a rush. She still managed to fix her hair a little bit though while standing in line at the lobby. She took a quick look at the wall mirror for a retouch, and everything else seemed fine.

And there he was, Gregg, on that same elevator in a soaked loafer shoes, faded jeans and plain white shirt with a full blown hair misted with raindrops. He was so ready and prepared. He was holding a brown envelope, almost wet, with the copy of the resignation letter and clearance inside. 

Life in a call center for Gregg was routinary. He takes calls for ten business days, wait for the 11th and be temporary rich. He answers about 50 calls a day from irrate customers for a non working mobile phones just to find out that their phone battery is not charged. He sells mobile accessories that really wouldn’t matter for a day to day living. He reaches his quota with a speed limit no one has ever exceeded, and get extra perks in between payout cut offs. But that’s just about it. He found no other reason to stay apart from friends who had really been so close to him since day one. But he would set that aside because he felt that he has a mission somewhere out there in the world, a job where he could use his skills and where he could be happier. His plans were all laid out. This was the beginning of his fulfilled life at least he thought. He cleared his throat as the elevator opened and landed on the 9th floor where the human resource department was located. He was excited rather than nervous. That’s going to be the last process and he’s totally out of the company.

At 8:00 in the morning, Ms. Katherine was in, on the dot.

At 8:05, just five minutes later, Gregg knocked on her door. 

He sat quietly just as she offered a seat. She ran through his records with her index finger and almost got surprised with his metrics.

You have quite an impressive record in telesales”, she began.

Thank you Ma’am.”, he simply replied.

He looked down the floor and noticed the dripping water from his wet pants. It’s terrible.

So what made you decide to leave the company. Basing from records, this could be a good start for you to acquire even higher positions, a perfect opportunity. You know this business, new accounts are popping almost every month. Are you sure about this?”, Miss K continued.

Was he sure about it? Yes he was. Why was he leaving then. He thought for several seconds to compose an answer.

“You know Ma’am, in my almost two years of being in the company, I realized I really don’t belong to a routinary work where I drag myself everyday to shower and prepare. I never get excited for a single day. I always look at my wrist watch and wait for my break time or to finally log out. A job is supposed to be something that you are happy working for and won’t need to wait for a day to be over”, he paused for a while and thought twice if it’s necessary for him to say, but he said it anyway.

“I just realized there’s something out there waiting for me to fill my shoes in. The world is big for me to stuck myself in a small room. Time is running. Two years had passed and where am I?..,still going back and forth to this building, filling my logs for 10 business days, waiting for the 11th  and be temporary rich. I go home and sleep. I go back to work but still sleepless, burnt and toxic. I talk to people over the phone and sell products that aren’t really mine, and the cycle goes on.”, he finally dropped the bomb. images

Miss Katherine became a little bit interested in a way. The man had a point. God, How long had she been here sitting on the same chair everyday. She had been staying in the company for seven years, made an average to high pay but she never had a time merely to discover her other potential. 

He interrupted her daydreaming.

“I just feel like being a rain who becomes water eventually. I travel a little bit to land, stayed for sometime, goes up in the air and mingle with clouds. If I get promoted here, I would do the same though, the ladder is not too steep, I would still answer calls, like at the end of the day, I am still a rain. I will still drop on land and go with the flow.”

“Does that suppose to mean under estimation of the industry?”, she curiously replied.

“It isn’t Ma’am. It is a state of reality. If people are happy doing these things like you do, then you stay. Because this is your forte. If this is something you like to do, then there’s nothing wrong. What I’m just saying is, people have different perspective and level of contentment.”. He answered with conviction.

She paused for awhile and pretended to be writing down something on a piece of paper. The truth is, her mind was traveling to some place by then.

Had she not been here, she could be somewhere else, maybe a manager of a coffee shop somwehere in a serene place like Tagaytay, where people often smile on a day break. She could be managing her own salon, where everyone enters to be more beautiful and relaxed. She never liked being a lawyer anyway. It just runs in their blood. She was forced to take up law by her parents who happened to be lawyers themselves. Being an only daughter, she never had any choice but follow her parents’ path. And there she was, contemplating on what had happened. She thought of that once in a while, but never really did risk to go on and start over what’s making her happy.

“Ma’am?”, Gregg broke the sudden silence.

She got back to reality.

Oh yeah, as I was saying. That was really brave of you to face life…Now, tell me, how old are you?”

I’m 22 Ma’am and been working here for two years. To answer your question about leaving, I am doing so to probably continue and eventually finish college. I paused studying.., due to financial constraints the time I started working here. But you know, I realized, if I stay here for too long, I would die here for nothing. So, I’m going back and regaining. On the span of time working here, I saved some and I recently acquired a scholarship from our town Mayor who would waive for my tuition fee, so I guess I could start. I have this friend who’s working in Starbucks and they’re accepting part time job for students, or maybe in McDonald’s. I am not sure, but sure thing is that I am leaving. I hope that makes sense.” Gregg answered.

Miss Katherine couldn’t say a word. The man had a wise tongue and a big brain, surely he’s the type who’s never gonna give up. 

Absolute sense. You are too young but you think too experienced. I know you’d go far, but I just have one question.”

‘What is it Ma’am?“, Gregg’s interest arouse.

“I was just wondering since you are targetting for a part time job, why won’t you just continue here, I mean like part time, while you are studying, you can devote four hours to five here, not bad. I mean I’m just curious. Why would you rather prefer to resign” She said.

“Because I have tried working here Ma’am and for here I realized these things. I’m not happy of what I do, I’d rather go out and explore other possibilities and interact with people, where my words could make a change, where my words would better be valued. I have small knowledge of marketing and business and I’m planning to start up my own. I know it would be too big think  about, but you know, all successes came from small idea. I proved that I could sell, so what am I doing here? Let’s put it this way Ma’am if you won’t get me wrong. I’d rather sell my own product rather than be paid for someone else’s to do so. I hope you get the point…, somehow..”

“I do.” She spoke clearly.

There was a long silence. He was right. It was all crystal clear, maybe this boy was her sign to open herself to some other possibilities. Maybe it’s time to find what really would make her happy. In her 33 years of existence, she’d been single and had no time to mingle. She missed the feeling of being heartbroken. She never had much time with her friends. She never had a chance to travel for too long and enjoyed the perks of being independent.

This boy was her calling.

“So where do I sign?”

He handed over the clearance to Ms. Holsy and without a doubt, she signed firmly with dignity on top of her name- Ms. Katherina Holsy, an executive business partner. It sounded really elite, untouchable, boss, yet unhappy.

Right after signing, she closed Gregg’s file and cleaned her desk. There was something running on her mind, a plan. Yes, she would file a leave and find herself, like a retreat. At 33, she believed it’s not too late yet. She pulled her planner from a drawer, checked her emails, ran through the calendar, composed a notification of leave and sent it to the management.

Ms Katherina Holsy, 33, lawyer and executive business partner in one of the leading business process outsourcing company in the Philippines, resigned from the company a week after that exit interview with Gregg to explore the world and seize life before it’s too late. 

May 2014.

Ms Katherina Holsy is running a law firm on her own which is based in Manila. At the same time, she paints on her vacant time. She’s been holding exhibits and conferences and doing auctions of her work to donate to children charities. She’s now married to John Stanzkho whom she met in one of her visits to her hometown in Belgium, and those things make her happy.

Gregg, a dearest friend, I am proud to say, graduated Cum Laude from University of the Philippines in 2012 under Business Administration Bachelor course and is now running his small coffee business in the province. It just started as an idea for his thesis and eventually he made it happen when he was chosen to attend a Bussiness conference October 2011 in Tokyo with two other students as participants. It really inspired him to pursue business. He is now the boss of himself- happy and counting.

An idea only becomes a dream when you start risking and doing a way to make it happen. Time flies, we age physically that we should grow socially too to keep our heads above the water. We are put here not to be stagnant. The world is way big for us to explore.

We should not look for happiness, we should make one.  



Posted on May 8, 2014, in LETTERS 33-40, LIFE LETTERS and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Interesting story. Have a blessed day.

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