10 June 2010

Fly on a Corner Office Wall

This morning, I interviewed a guy in one of the country's top investment houses, and as I hurried out of the tower and onto the sidewalks of Ayala Avenue afterward, I wanted to cry out, "Investment banking is the shit!"

Say I've been drinking the Kool-Aid, but working for BusinessWorld has given me an appreciation for the world of business (hahaha) that I doubt I could ever have picked up in a classroom.

One of my favorite movie dialogues happens to sum up the reason for my esteem quite nicely.

Linus: Making money isn't the main point of business. Money is a by-product.

David: What's the main objective? Power?

Linus: Ah! That's become a dirty word.


A new product has been found, something of use to the world. A new industry moves into an undeveloped area. Factories go up, machines go in and you're in business. It's coincidental that people who've never seen a dime now have a dollar, and barefooted kids wear shoes and have their faces washed. What's wrong with an urge that gives people libraries, hospitals, baseball diamonds, and movies on a Saturday night?

David: You make me feel like a heel. If I don't marry her, some kid will run around Puerto Rico barefoot!

Have I quoted this scene in an older post? Sorry; I can't help but recall it after meeting one of these folks in suits.

In this scene from "Sabrina," David Larrabee is upset because his tycoon elder brother Linus has asked him to marry the daughter of the guy with whom the Larrabee company is going into a joint venture. I can't remember the details, but it's kind of to seal the deal. David asks Linus why he doesn't marry the girl himself, and Linus explains that he'd be a terrible husband because he's in love with business. David asks what he sees in it, and Linus answers with what I see in it.

I don't think I've got what it takes to be a great entrepreneur or an investment banker, but I admire people who do, because their work gets things done. All these executives I've interviewed in the past near-ten months I've worked for this paper have shown me that there are powerful people who are not only aware of their impact on the community but are also glad to make it.

There are real estate developers eager to build homes for the people who can't afford a ritzy business district condo. There are investment bankers who want and will help small businesses to break into a market dominated by olde, establishde names. There are company presidents who are willing to absorb the costs of ensuring environmental sustainability.

Though I don't doubt that somewhere, such a caricature lives and breathes, CEOs are not all fat cats who light their cigars with dollar bills. Though there are still issues that need to be resolved (how much of their success actually trickles down?), suits aren't all evil, greedy, money-grubbing jerks; some of them actually want to do something to improve the lives of the people around them, and they have the power to do it. It's a breath of fresh air, and it gives you hope, even as you board the bus back to your own little desk across town, and the conductor switches the TV over to a noontime show.

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