Monday, June 05, 2000

Don't be accessory to boss's irresponsibility

Silent suffering no way to cope with intolerable behavior

By Andrea Kay

        Dear Andrea: I worked for a boss who is young, single and irresponsible. I always followed orders because he was my boss but didn't always agree with what we were doing. He would order me to take the day off to play golf with him two or three days in a week.

        We were supposed to leave on a road trip, and I had to get him from home two hours late because he got drunk and had a girl stay all night.

        He lost important paperwork and then blamed me for it. I bailed him out of jail for driving with a suspended driver's li cense. He considers alcohol a food group, keeping beer in the break room refrigerator and a keg at the warehouse. Then I was terminated two weeks after I got a raise.

        I was told I don't follow orders well and am inefficient. How can I respect a boss like this and follow his example? How would you have dealt with this? — Wronged and Fired.

        Dear Wronged and Fired: The best thing that happened to you was getting out of this no-win situation. If you ever work for someone like that again, document events and talk to your human resources professional before it gets this bad.

        Don't ever do something you consider immoral or against your work ethic. Next time make the choice to leave.

        Dear Andrea: Our office has the typical cubicle office arrangement and after years of complaints, management is finally open to changing it.

        They have actually asked our opinion! Other than regular offices, I don't know what to suggest. Any ideas? — Stumped in my cubicle.

        Dear Stumped in Cubicle: The arrangement would depend on what your company does and how people need to interact. But some companies that want to minimize hierarchy are moving from segregated cubicles to a setting in which the boss' office is in the middle of the floor with everyone else organized around him or her.

        Cubicle walls are being replaced by picket fences, plants, bookcases and couches, Herman Group's Trend Alert says.

        Dear Andrea: I am interested in the field of biotechnology but don't know where to start.

        What they are looking for and where are these firms? — L.P.

        Dear L.P.: The place to be is in bioinformatics, which is a merging of biology and computer sciences.

        This cutting-edge field is where computers, not scientists, test models of genes and drugs to develop new drugs, according to an article in Employment Review Online.

        You need a background in structural biology, computational chemistry and mathematics, which probably doesn't fit a lot of people.

        But as hot as this field is, jobs have decreased a bit because of mergers and acquisitions during the middle to late 1990s. Don't let that stop you if you're interested because there are still more than a quarter of a million people in the field, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

        The firms that have grown into pharmaceutical companies and are profitable include Biogen, Centocor, Genentech and Genzyme. There are many start-ups emerging.

        These kinds of companies also have positions in research and development including chemists, clinical researchers, data management personnel, SAS programmers, biostatisticians and medical writers.

        Also in demand are engineers who create and maintain equipment used to research drugs and computer programmers who create databases, maintain systems and develop computer models. This is also a need for sales people and health-care professionals since these companies work with hospitals and government agencies.

        You'll find more jobs in San Francisco, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, San Diego, Texas, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Princeton, N.J., and its surrounding area and Richmond, Va.

        Dear Andrea: I appreciated your article on stay-at-home moms. I worked in corporate America for 12 years before I decided to stay home with my two daughters.

        When people ask me what I do, I tell them I am a CEO of two small children and go my merry way. I'm glad I made that decision. We had to scale back, but it was worth it. — C. in Cincinnati.

        Career consultant Andrea Kay is the author of Greener Pastures: How To Find a Job In Another Place, Interview Strategies That Will Get You the Job You Want and Resumes That Will Get You the Job You Want. Send questions to her at P.O. Box 6834, Cincinnati, OH 45206; fax: (859) 781-2228. E-mail:


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