The Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Moves On

In December, my company was purchased by a private European concern. Otherworldly as I am, I knew that mergers are rarely good news for the employees of the mergee. Still, hoping against hope, I hedged my fears: they’re technology oriented… I’m technology oriented… I’m one of the leading people in my field… I can be a big help to the new company…

Late in March, some members of our catalyst R&D group went for a joint meeting in Europe with our catalyst colleagues from the two European labs. In a meeting on their return, our new group head said that the meetings went very well… there would be all kinds of joint projects… Hlatky (who had just filed half a dozen new invention disclosures) for president…

Twenty-four hours later, our site manager said something quite different at an employee meeting: research would be concentrated in Europe and North American research activities were to be scaled back. Two weeks later, on April 17th I was told that my position was to be eliminated effective at the end of August.

I am now looking for a new job. This is not an easy prospect. With mergers and the high cost of feedstocks, the North American polyolefins industry looks like the steel industry did twenty-five years ago. In my industry, we go through troughs and cutbacks every three or four years. It’s like being a duck in a shooting gallery: this time I just got hit. Our catalyst group, which numbered 11 researchers ten years ago, is now down to three.

And yet to my surprise I don’t feel as depressed as I thought I would. Sure I wake up and say to myself, “I’m going to be out of a job soon,” but on the whole I’m not pessimistic. I have a long record of accomplishments and I think something is going to turn up in the shorter rather than the longer term.

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