I defer to nobody in my respect for Google Maps. They are the Stephen Fry of online signposting: all-knowledgeable, permanently available – and the bits you don’t understand are almost certainly all your fault.
Bearing that in mind, last week’s adventure somewhere in West London probably was my fault. I’d decided to walk (the office I was visiting looked so enticingly close to the station, on Google Maps) and quickly found myself in an industrial landscape that looked like the back of a canal. Two minutes later the road on Google Maps which I’d intended to use as a short-cut turned out (with sledgehammer irony) to be a canal.
Having thoughtlessly left anything ocean-going at home (note to self for future visits), I continued to hoof it – at a considerably faster speed, as my ‘quick walk’ turned into a yomp. Rule One: Never be late for meetings with busy people who are giving you their time. Rule Two: Always pack an inflatable speedboat.
And Rule Three: Don’t believe the map they send you. Office maps are mostly created by people who already know exactly where the location is, as they work there; and so they can’t really see the need for a map, and tend to err on the vague side. Google Maps are best… Well, usually….
At this point a large park presented itself – and in the middle distance, what looked suspiciously like a corporate HQ. Surely that must be it? I took a risk and started to jog across the park. I was the only jogger that morning wearing a pinstripe suit and clutching a crumpled print-out from Google Maps. A heatwave having been ordered for the day, my head had turned almost entirely to liquid. Five minutes to go.
Thanks be to Fry: it was the right place, I’d made it on time - and the canal was still, bafflingly, a canal. Imminent unprofessionalism averted, European HR Director met – a good potential contact. Who’s the patron saint of air conditioning? I need to send a thank-you note.
Which just goes to show: engaging HR Leaders isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
But every now and then, it’s a sprint too.
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