The room in the hotel's conference center was large enough to hold the 200 plus attendees. That being said, the meeting itself had not been very interesting so far. Brad Williams was anticipating listening to the next speaker as he had seen her on television a number of times and he knew she could handle herself. He wondered if her two month tenure as the new General Counsel of this large insurance company was long enough for her to get comfortable in her new position. There was quite a bit of litigation pending and some other legal matters that she had needed to become familiar with in a short time.
This Florida business meeting was a reward to the twenty Regional Managers and their staffs for what had been a very successful year for this insurance company. Record profits had been realized and the company was showing its gratitude to those that were responsible for the results. Brad thought that the absence of major hurricanes, a reduction in the number of tornados and no large fires in California were the main reasons for the large profits. If the company wanted to treat the Regional Staffs to a three day holiday in Orlando, Florida, that was fine with Brad because it did help with employee morale. Brad thought that it was ironic that State Regulators gave serious scrutiny when insurance companies requested rate increases but didn't bother to check if the insurance rates are too high when the insurance companies reported record profits.
As a Regional Manager, Brad was very familiar with the subject matter that the speakers had been presenting. If he was an effective communicator as he hoped he was, his staff should have also been familiar with most of this material as well. The presentation that was currently being done was something they hadn't seen before. They had been watching the new commercials that would air on television this coming year. These new commercials emphasized automobile and life insurance product lines and were introduced by Bud Hogan, the Vice President of Sales.
Brad had been promoted from a Regional Manager in a small region to replace Bud in what was one of the Company's premier Regional Offices. Both of these men respected each other and considered the other to be a friend and not just a business associate. Brad had been Bud's Regional Sales Manager and knew that it was on Bud's recommendation that Brad was promoted to the position of Regional Manager. He also suspected that Bud had recommended Brad to succeed him when Bud was promoted to VP of Sales in Home Office.
The presentations of the new commercials were completed and received a round of applause. The Vice President of Human Resources who was acting as the MC stepped up to the podium to introduce the Company's relatively new General Counsel, Debra Sterling. The introduction he gave her was a reading of her biography; undergrad degree from Pepperdine, a graduate of UCLA law school, Assistant District Attorney, Dean of a Catholic University Law School and for the past three years Assistant Attorney General.
What wasn't said in this introduction is what Brad had learned from googling her name on the internet. Debra Sterling had been the runner-up in her State's contest for who would be their representative in the Miss America Contest. Her hobbies were horseback ridding and swimming. She had enhanced her reputation as an attorney by successfully prosecuting some high profile cases. Socially she had dated some celebrities and politicians but was still single. Debra did some fashion modeling while in college which paid her school expenses. She was a very attractive lady who had become quite successful.
The change in administration because of the federal election results had her out of a job and there were some talk that she would return as a law school dean. It surprised a number of people when she became the Company's General Counsel. It didn't surprise Brad that much as he knew her salary was at least double of what she would get as a law school dean and with benefits, bonus and stock options it didn't seem to be that hard of a choice.
Debra walked up to the podium to a large round of applause. Brad noticed that she wasn't carrying any material with her to refer to in doing her presentation. There was no teleprompter for her to use. She was wearing a light grey tailored suit that was knee high with a slight slit on the side. Her legs were encased in nylons and were very nice showing some slim tapered calves emphasized by what appear to be three inch high heels. The color of the suit was in contrast to her short dark red hair. Facially she was very attractive and looked younger than what Brad was guessing her age to be which was close to his. He could see in her walk and mannerisms that there was a natural confidence that not many women possessed.
Debra's presentation went well. She discussed in general the status of two class action suits by agents against the company that were pending, the settlement of a discrimination suit concerning the difference in starting salaries between men and women as well as some important regulatory issues that were pending in various States. She opened the floor to questions and handled the ones that were asked effortlessly.
Brad had seen her on television when she testified before various Congressional Committees and noted that she never had any problems in answering their questions. While what she said to Congress was important, the committee members seemed mesmerized by her wit and appearance. Brad could understand that after seeing her in person.
This business meeting had lasted four hours. The length of the meeting was required to be four hours to justify the expenses as being business related for tax purposes. The activity options that were offered to the attendees this afternoon were a visit to the various theme parks at Disney World or Universal Studios. The evening activities were cocktails and dinner at Sea World, which was located across the street from the hotel they were staying at. After dinner there was to be a private aquatic show featuring the killer whale 'Shamu' followed by a fireworks display.
Brad had opted to go to Epcot with two of his staff for the afternoon's activity. It had been a number of years since Brad had visited Epcot which had him wondered if there were many changes. It was his observation at Epcot that there weren't that many changes with the exception of the availability of beer and wine which Brad didn't remember as being available in the past. The crowds were large and it was enjoyable to visit some of the country pavilions
After a shower, shave, and change of clothes, Brad was ready for an adult beverage and dinner. Wearing a button down black linen shirt and tan linen slacks, Bard exited the elevator on the first floor of the hotel and saw Bud Hogan who was exiting another elevator. Exiting the elevator with Bud was Debra Sterling.
Bud noticed Brad, extended his hand to shake and said, "Let me introduce you to Debra Sterling. I don't think you two have met."
"No we haven't. It's a pleasure to meet you Ms Sterling and a belated welcome to the Company."
She extended her hand and said, "Please call me Deb. It's also a pleasure to meet you. Bud has been telling me about you and I feel I know you already. There are some blank spots in what Bud has been telling me and maybe you can fill me on our walk over to Sea World."
"Fair's fair, I will answer your questions but in return I will expect you to answer mine and not talk around them as I saw you so expertly do when you testified in front of those Congressional Committees."
"So you noticed that."
"Yes I did. I will say you were good at it."
"Thanks, I will need to watch what I say to you."
On the walk over to Sea World, besides answering some of Deb's questions, Brad had the opportunity to closely observe her. What he saw he liked. She was wearing crème colored slacks which while not overly tight were made of a material that clung to her hips and showed her to have a very nice bottom. The dark green silk blouse she was wearing emphasized a pair of breasts that were in proportion to her slim figure. Eliminating the three inch heels she was wearing, he gauged her height to be about five foot five inches. He thought her red hair added to her attractiveness. dded to her attractiveness.
"So where did you go to school?"
"The University of Illinois at Champaign for undergrad and then I received my MBA from Northwestern through their executive MBA program while I was an agent.
"Why did you hire in with this company?"
"Well to give you an honest answer, I thought I could do better in salary compensation if I had a career where my salary was based on commission. That way it would make me a master of my own destiny so to speak. The agent position offered me that opportunity."
"Were you successful as an agent?"
Bud jumped into the conversation and said, "Let me answer that one. Brad was ahead of his time. On his own he hired housewives who wanted or needed some extra money but because of their young children were stay-at-home moms. He paid their phone bills and had them working as telemarketers for him soliciting new business. They were paid on a commission basis for those potential customers who wanted quotes and more for those who purchased a policy. Brad's business model is what the company has since adopted and is strongly encouraging all of the sales agents to implement."
.... There is more of this story ...