I was invited for an interview at XLN Telecom for a management position. I researched the company beforehand: financial statements, directors' names, products, achievements and so on.
The information available on the web about this firm is everything but conclusive: one might find that they are the fastest growing telecommunications company in the UK; others might find that they promote bad sales practices, having breached several provisions of the Code of Practice for sales and marketing activity. Fair enough. However, the situation gets uglier when you find articles on a Birmingham paper describing how new hires have been promised a management position and find themselves cold calling and working on the field. Apparently, this is part of XLN Telecom way of training managers - the 'ACADEMY' - whereby unachievable objectives are set and everyone gets sacked in the first weeks without a penny.
Even feeling suspicious I decided to see by myself.
11:10, XLN Telecom HQ in Vauxhall. I come in, put my name down on the visitors' book and wait to be called for interview.
11:20, I am asked to go upstairs and so are other 24 people. We all sit down. After filling in a form, an XLN employee presents the regional director (Steven Pun) - "Steve is a very important person, he made his first million pounds when he was 26, 50% of the employees in this company have been recruited by him, so I advise you to be very straight with him and never loose eye contact."
11.45, Steve comes in and begins his speech which I would qualify as a stunning acting performance. The speech lasts 4 hours.
Steve enjoys himself. He has got his million pounds, 7 estates in London and a Lamborghini Murcielago. He likes to point out that he hired 87% of the staff (his colleague said 50%). He mentions that whoever does not like him can 'f*** off' and that it would be such a pleasure to slap and throw underperformers out of the window. Good corporate image I would say...
But the interview is not about Steve. He also goes through the company's figures, as follows:
(i) Profit After Taxes in FY2004: 500k
(ii) Profit After Taxes in FY2005: 1K
(iii) Steven Pun salary in FY2008: 170k
Turns out that the financial statements of XLN say it different, as follows:
(i) Profit After Taxes in FY2004: -215k
(ii) Profit After Taxes in FY2005: -1,230k
(iii) Directors wages in FY2008: 188k (so... he has got 170k and the remaining 5 directors 18k?!)
SLIGHTLY different! Nevertheless, as far as profits are concerned the company is pretty successful now. Not as much as Steve says though.
The most interesting thing about this company is the training they provide - the 'ACADEMY'. They want to train people for 8 weeks and the ones who manage to go through the process will earn 30k-50k. During the training they will go to the field and call some businesses (which I understood as field sales and cold calling, respectively) so XLN can ensure that people know what the business is about.
Steve does not actually explain what the role consists of but he highlights that the successful ones will be directing the ACADEMY' in their areas. So, the job is about getting people to recruit more people. As more people one recruits, more money he/she gets. If one manages to stay 4 weeks, this person will train a new hire. The new hire will, in his/her turn train another new hire when he/she achieves the 4th week. So, after 5 weeks the first person would be managing the new hire and his/her trainees. The scheme goes on and on.
In a chestnut, the underlying truth is that new hires stay for few weeks, go to the field and get some contracts for the company. XLN then says that they have not achieved the targets and get rid of them without paying.
I am delighted to have turned down this job. I cannot complain about the company because nothing happened to me but I have heard from people who had terrible experiences at XLN. I expect with this report to prevent people to be deceived by their offer which might sound attractive at first.
By the way I looked up Steven Pun on the web: he is an artist! I identified him by his photos. Apparently he has even released an album. You can check him out at http://www.angelfire.com/pop2/stevenpun/abouthim.html
Turns out that he might well be an actor and I watched a play for free not everything is bad then.