Friday, April 25, 2008

Executive Suite

This is the essay I did for the movie "Executive Suite". My teacher seemed to like it so I thought I'd share it here. For more info about the movie you can check out this.




When Tredway Furniture's President suddenly dies we are taken behind the scenes to see the power struggle that ensues. What I'd like to show here are the people involved and the situation they are thrown into. Then I will cover how and why they come to choose the President they choose. What are the ideals and principles they live by? What you may discover is that they are not much different from ourselves. None are perfect with strength's and weaknesses like the rest of us.

It's hard to describe Tredway without first mentioning Avery Bullard. Avery Bullard was the President of Tredway furniture for many years. He had rescued the company from it's dark times in the past. He took great pride in his work but had perhaps lost his way in the last few years in which he was heavily influenced by Loren Shaw's way of efficiency and maximized profit. He ran the the company with a firm hand. He had apparently a close relationship with Julia Tredway, the founder's great-granddaughter who was also a major stockholder. The exact nature of this relationship was never revealed.

We first meet George Caswell who was one of the last to see Bullard alive. He is an investment banker who is also a member of Tredway's Board of Directors. He believes he sees Bullard on the streets below being taken away apparently dead. In which he first tries to make a shady insider deal. This reveals what kind of character he is. He likes to make a fast buck and lives life lavishly.

Frederick Alderson is Tredway's Vice President, Treasurer. He's a close friend of Avery Bullard's and is considered the number-two man in the company. Upon the news of Avery's death he tries to take command of the situation only to find Loren Shaw already making moves. At which point he realizes that he was never to be President of Tredway. Though he is unsure of who should be President but, he is sure who doesn't want. Loren Shaw.

Jesse Grimm is the Vice President of Manufacturing and member of the Board of Directors. He's very proud of his work but has grown weary. He's somewhat resentful of Don Walling's education and probably feels jealous of it. He's now feels ready to retire.

Walter Dudley is Vice President of Sales for Tredway. He's a people pleasing type of person usually avoiding confrontations. He's married but is having an affair with his secretary. Loren Shaw finds out about this and tries to bully Dudley for his vote. Though he does overcome this in the end.

Erica Martin is the Executive Secretary. She is very professional in her work and in her demeanor. She is not intimidated by Shaw but shows no preference for who the next president should be. She was also close and respectful of Avery Bullard.

Julia Tredway is the great-granddaughter of Josiah Tredway founder of the company. Her father had committed suicide after which the Avery Bullard took over the company and built it up to what it is currently. She apparently had a very close relationship Mr. Bullard but was very jealous of the time and attention he gave to it. She is a major stockholder and member of the board of directors. She is so despondent over Bullards death that she is ready to sell her share of the stock.

Loren Shaw is Vice President Controller of the company he's very proactive and attention to

detail orientated. I perceive him to be a very nervous and insecure person inside and tries to overcome this by getting every detail, fact or figure about whatever he is to encounter. In this manner he tries take advantage of Caswell by assuring him he'd cover his insider trader deal. He also find's out about Dudley's affair with his secretary. Also he takes advantage of Julia Tredway's depressed condition to gain control of stock and vote on the board(by proxy). He is of the opinion that stockholders “return on investment” is the most important thing for the company.

MacDonald Walling is the Vice President of Design and Development. He's an idealist designer devoted to his work. Despite the feelings of his wife he's reluctant to blame Bullard for failings and lack of funding of recent research and development projects. At first he has no aspirations for the presidency though like Alderson he is certain it shouldn't be Shaw. He comes to realize the company lacks pride in workmanship and overall vision for the future. He comes to realize this and that he should be the one that leads Tredway into the future.

The climax of the drama takes place in the meeting boardroom to elect a new president in Bullard's place. Don Walling is waiting for his one known ally Fred Alderson and Jesse Grimm whom he's having trouble reaching. Shaw seems to think he's got the votes needed. Both literally and figuratively in his corner are Caswell held by an assurance to cover his insider deal. Dudley with the knowledge of his personal affairs. Also in hand is Julia Tredway's vote by proxy. In the other corner is Walling and the neutral Erica Martin.

Just as the meeting begins the security Shaw had starts to come unraveled. Julia Tredway decides to enter the meeting taking a sure vote away from Shaw. Loren Shaw is nominated by Dudley but the voting is inconclusive in the first round. Alderson arrives with Grimm before the second round has begun. Alderson had been unable to sway Grimm's opinion. Walling then challenges Shaws to exactly spell out his vision for Tredway. Loren then spells out what he believes. His belief is that the stockholders are the most important ones to please. In which profit and stock dividends are most important. He also believes strongly in return on investment.

Walling then outlines his vision. He feels in recent years Bullard had perhaps lost his way and became focused on profit's and dividends. He had reached a plateau. What was lost was a sense of pride in accomplishment not only by Bullard but by many in the company. They had even resorted to producing inferior but highly profitable products like the “KF” line. Walling essentially envisions a balance between profit and investment in the future. Then he feels that Tredway had reached a turning point. That just trying to gain profit will starve a company. Arguing that profits must be used for future research and development for new products. Growth of the company is important as well as profit and dividends. He in turn assures Grimm, Dudley, Shaw, and Julia Tredway how this would effect them. He encourages them all to work together as a team to reach this next goal of the company. Uncharacteristically and with enthusiastically Walt Dudley nominates Don Walling for President. Perhaps caught up in the moment the move is made unanimous and he is made president of Tredway.

In all it was an interesting insight into what goes on in the boardroom. No one person is perfect each with there own strengths and weaknesses. One thing it does teach is that a company it's not just about reaching a profit. To also grow and sustain itself is important. Companies need to invest in the future as well as profit. Just like in personal finances if you work and spend your pay without saving for the future. What will happen when retirement time comes and you have nothing to show for it. Another observation is that one should have pride in your workmanship. To reach for goals that are important and that we care about. Without this type of compass in our lives we can perhaps lose our way like Avery Bullard had.

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