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Corporate Secrets

Corporate Secrets

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Corporate Secrets

221 pagine
2 ore
Jul 31, 2018


A novel of business and political intrigue, Corporate Secrets is the story of a quest for power in which private abuses are combined with national tragedies. Susan Blakely is a young marketing executive who joins the pharmaceutical company GMA Corporation, headed by chief executive officer Richard Danziger. Danziger wants to be the leader of his company, his industry, his country and perhaps even the world. When he realizes Ms. Blakely is an honest and talented person, he subjects her to verbal abuse and sexual harassment. After she refuses to tolerate his repugnant behavior, he shifts his attention to other targets. When the Food and Drug Administration denies the company's application for a weight loss pill, Danziger orders a successful murder attempt on the FDA commissioner. When the president of the United States proposes price controls for prescription drugs, the CEO arranges a murder attempt for him as well. Will the attempt be successful? Will Danziger escape justice? Can Susan Blakely do anything to stop him? Corporate Secrets provides the answers.

Jul 31, 2018

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Corporate Secrets - David Hula


The Offer

Congratulations, Mrs. Blakely. The board of directors has just authorized me to offer you the position of vice president in charge of marketing for the GMA Corporation at a base salary of $250,000 per year.

She heard these words as if in a dream. Yet she was wide awake, holding the telephone receiver, actually being offered the proverbial golden opportunity. For a moment, she was stunned into silence.

We’d like to know within three weeks whether or not you want to join our team, the company spokesman said. Mrs. Blakely, are you there?

The job was being offered to her by Richard Danziger, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of GMA (Gabriel Montgomery Anderson) Corporation, one of the market leaders in the pharmaceutical industry and a substantial participant in numerous other lines of business. Her momentary silence was prompted not only by her surprise, but also by her reluctance to trust Danziger—a person she had immediately distrusted when she had met him for an interview.

Thank you very much for the offer, Mr. Danziger. I’d like to discuss this matter with my husband. You’ll be hearing from me shortly.

Danziger was annoyed that she had not immediately accepted. He attempted to conceal this fact by feigning a cordial tone of voice, but Susan Blakely’s intuition was not entirely fooled.

We’ll send you a letter repeating this offer and verifying the other details of the position we discussed in the interview process. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you again, Mr. Danziger.

Thank you, Mrs. Blakely. Goodbye.

After concluding the conversation, Danziger’s face was crossed by a ferocious scowl. He grabbed a sheet of paper upon which was written one of his innumerable redundant memoranda, slowly crumpled it in his fist, and muttered bitch as he immediately began to plot revenge against Susan Blakely for her impertinence.

With her thoughts understandably on her new job offer, Susan had difficulty concentrating on the duties of her current position as senior marketing manager for Palmyra Incorporated. Her current employer earned the majority of its profits as a manufacturer of personal care products and household cleaners. She knew how to design effective advertisements for shampoos and toothpastes––employ attractive models who look even more attractive after using these products, and imply that similar benefits await the mass market consumer. Would such an approach also work for selling sleeping pills and antibiotics? Her marketing approaches would have to be largely redesigned to suit her new wares, and her mind was already at work doing exactly that. Susan had performed her previous job duties with distinction, and she also had a Harvard MBA to bolster her résumé. She felt worthy of the position she was offered, but also suspected that she might not be shown the respect she deserved. An attractive brunette barely past thirty, she might be considered too young and too feminine to be accorded proper consideration by older male chauvinists in the GMA corporate hierarchy. The base salary she had been offered indicated they may value her abilities, but it was also possible they intended to substitute salary for humane treatment. For a quarter million dollars a year, she decided she was more than willing to take that chance. She wondered how much, if any, persuading her husband, Michael, might require, but was confident she could market her decision to him.

By the way, honey, that job offer came through today.

Susan had decided to slip the news into their dinner conversation that evening, rather than blurt out the announcement as soon as he came home. Although she could not explain exactly why, she felt it was best not to appear too excited about it.

Oh yeah? What’s their salary offer?

A quarter million a year.

Michael stared at his wife with his mouth opened in surprise.

Their current annual combined income only approached the six-figure range. His euphoria at the prospect of being on such a lucrative gravy train was quickly replaced by the realization his wife would vastly outearn him. Sensing his reaction, she countered with a clever remark.

You’re not one of those insecure men who feels castrated by his wife’s success, are you?

Well, no, but we’ll have to move to LA if you take it. I thought you liked it here in Dayton.

The job opportunities should be better for you in southern California, not to mention the sun and the mountains and the ocean.

And the crime and pollution and earthquakes, her husband countered with a purposely insincere smile. Susan looked back at him with a facial expression which acknowledged that such a move would require they take the bad with the good. Although she had not openly declared she wanted to make the move, her position was obvious.

Let’s think it over for a few days, she suggested.

After retiring for the evening, Susan used her considerable feminine charms to support her case. The decision was made promptly after receiving the official offer letter, which verified the base salary of $250,000 and also offered profit sharing, stock options, bonuses, and other perquisites of managerial power. Richard Danziger had made an offer the Blakelys could not refuse.

Chapter 2

The Orientation

The GMA Tower did in fact tower over the skyline of downtown Los Angeles. An imposing skyscraper with a blue-gray color mirroring the waters of the nearby Pacific Ocean, she took the elevator to her new office on the twenty-fifth floor. The window there afforded her a panoramic view of the northern half of the Los Angeles area and beyond, which was beautiful but unsettling. She thought of all the people in her field of view, and of all the trials and traumas they endured as a result of the wickedness of the human species. Although she did not have a pronounced fear of heights, this dizzying view would take some getting accustomed to. The GMA Tower was ultramodern and supposedly highly earthquake resistant, but for the time being she felt quite vulnerable here. She almost envied the seagulls that occasionally flew within view, for they could fly away if an earthquake threatened. Her first activity for her first day was to meet privately with Mr. Danziger for an orientation session. This meeting would give her an opportunity to psychoanalyze Danziger and determine the extent to which she would have autonomy for decision-making within the marketing area. Danziger and/or the board of directors would no doubt determine the size of GMA’s annual promotional budget, but she could reasonably expect to have a major input into the design of marketing strategies. Whether or not a rule of reason prevailed at GMA remained to be seen.

I have an appointment to see Mr. Danziger at ten, Susan said after greeting Danziger’s secretary, Debra Latanich.

One method of gaining insight into the character of an administrator is to observe whether or not the people who take orders from him or her appear happy or sad. Judging by this criteria in the case of Ms. Latanich, Danziger was of dubious character. A pretty blonde in her midtwenties, Debra wore a rather grim facial expression, which was grim precisely because of its lack of expression. Many possible explanations could be given for her listless look; perhaps it was not typical of her. Holding Danziger responsible for her doldrums was a bit premature, but Susan was not sure whether she should give Danziger the benefit of the doubt. Susan took a seat in the reception area outside Danziger’s office. Ms. Latanich had informed her that Danziger was meeting with Joseph Crupp and Russell Anderson, who were president and chief operating officer of GMA respectively. Despite their lofty titles, they were principally yes men, whipping boys, and executive assistants for Danziger who made very few, if any, decisions of their own. One of their primary additional functions was to serve as scapegoats for Danziger—subordinates he could fire in the event he made a bad decision in order to maintain the confidence of the board of directors and stockholders. Their presence also gave the outsider the impression that GMA corporate policy was not dictatorially determined—a pretense that many organizations have in common.

Not the slightest hint of a sound emanated from Danziger’s office while she waited. Apparently the office was soundproof. As she would eventually learn, Danziger had good reason to prevent anyone and everyone outside his office from hearing even a trace of his private conversations with his victims. Fifteen minutes later, Crupp and Anderson left Danziger’s office together. They too had blank expressions on their faces. Susan was going to say hello to them, but they both ignored her as they walked by. She was next.

Good morning, Susan, Danziger said as she entered his office. So how are things going so far?

Fine, she replied. Susan was not taken in by his token effort to be courteous. Danziger’s voice had a harsh, grating quality to it, which was both unusual and unpleasant. A tall, thin man in his late forties, his hair at one time was a medium brown color. Now it was largely gone, and what remained of it had mostly turned gray. Danziger’s eyes had a cold, evil quality that made it very difficult to look him in the face—a characteristic he had in common with Hitler. He wore a brown suit and lackluster tie, which were as colorless as his personality. Susan couldn’t decide whether he looked more like a vampire or a Nazi war criminal. Danziger shuffled through a pile of papers, giving the appearance of looking for a key document when he was actually postponing his discussion with Susan in order to maximize her nervousness. As he performed this charade, she peered around his office, being careful not to move her head very much, for she did not want to appear overly inquisitive.

The office was very spacious, with a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean, which was usually concealed by drawn curtains. Hanging on the wall directly behind Danziger’s desk was a large painting of a pride of lions feeding on a vanquished gazelle. Although technically well done, it was a gruesome scene, which any psychologically sound person would not prominently display. Finished with his paper shuffling, Danziger looked up at her in a very arrogant, aloof, condescending fashion, throwing his head back and peering down his nose at his new associate.

I’d like to review the sales performance of our firm with you. No doubt you are aware of our recent stagnating sales growth.

Only in general terms, sir, she replied. Perhaps you could tell me a bit more about it.

Our sales the last three years grew at about a six percent rate, which is about our industry average. We are determined to be the sales leader in the pharmaceutical industry.

As Danziger rattled off additional numbers, his eyes repeatedly gazed up and down her body. She was accustomed to having men visually check her out, but not to this extent. Danziger continued his psychological assault by emphasizing what he claimed to be the unsatisfactory sales performance of GMA. Was it her fault that GMA was not the industry’s sales growth leader? Of course not. If anyone should be held accountable for this fact, it was Danziger. Once again he was about to evade his own responsibilities.

As top executive in charge of marketing, it is your responsibility to devise a strategic marketing plan which will make us the industry’s sales leader.

Mrs. Blakely had had enough experience with corporate bureaucracies to realize what Danziger was doing. He wanted to be able to use her as a scapegoat in case the stockholders or the board of directors expressed dissatisfaction with GMA’s future sales growth. Although he was chairman of the board, the non–chair members had the power to remove him from the chair and from his CEO position if they so chose. Danziger regarded this possibility as a fate worse than death, since some might interpret this action as an indication he was less than perfect. To him, appearances were all that mattered.

Please have a comprehensive marketing plan in my hands within one month, he demanded.

Susan’s experience with Harvard MBA case study problems had been a struggle, but none of those problems had been so all­encompassing or with such high stakes. Danziger was subjecting her to a baptism by fire, and he would be the judge of whether or not she survived it.

Any questions or comments? Danziger added.

Susan was being given the opportunity to verbally slash her own throat. She evaded the trap by doing something Danziger frequently did not do—she maintained her self-control. No, sir. I’ll have the plan prepared by your deadline. As she stepped out of his office, Danziger appeared irritated. He seemed to realize he had underestimated Mrs. Blakely’s ability to deal with psychopaths like himself.

Chapter 3

Lovers on the Beach

The Blakelys had purchased a secluded three-bedroom home in Malibu. Although it lacked a view of the ocean, it offered an attractive alternative—privacy. Concealed by a variety of exotic vegetation on a seldom-traveled side street, the nearby freeway traffic could hardly be seen or heard. Painted white and futuristically styled, it seemed an island of quiet security in a less-than-tranquil sea.

Susan arrived home from her first day of work at about six thirty. Danziger’s ultimatum was understandably on her mind as she pulled in the driveway of their new home. Closing the door of her car and walking up the front sidewalk, she saw a hummingbird fly past her and hover within nectar-sipping distance of a cluster of red blossoms on a nearby bush. Within a few seconds, the hummingbird left the blossoms and disappeared around the corner of their house. Seeing this feathered jewel helped brighten what had been a rather bleak day. Michael was already home, attending to a couple of steaks on their backyard barbecue. He was adapting quickly to California life, and was whistling that immortal Mamas and Papas song California Dreamin’ as Susan stepped inside. As of yet, he had not landed a chemical engineering job, but that would come in time, and why need he worry when he was married to a beautiful brunette raking in a cool quarter million a year?

Susan had quickly discovered her husband’s carefree mood, and was not eager to speak to him. Even though he had acquiesced and agreed to move here as she desired, she felt he was taking undue advantage of her, albeit perhaps unintentionally.

Hi, honey, how did the day go? he said as she stepped to the patio door.

Don’t ask, she recommended. Danziger’s already on my back.

For what they’re paying you, they’re entitled to something, aren’t they? The look on his wife’s face caused him to immediately regret his choice of words. A lengthy silence followed, during which Susan stared at him indignantly.

"Easy for you to say. Is high pay a

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