Ironic Lesson

Today I gave two back-to-back presentations at a conference on Financial Risk Management.  In preparation for this day, the conference organizers required me to send them my slides months ago.  I explained to them that I use PowerPoint on the Mac and that the advanced features I use don’t always translate well if they’re putting the slides on a PC.  So after they put the slides into the official template with the right colors and all that, they sent the file back to me to make sure everything still worked.  All this happened two months before I got here.

About an hour before the I was to start, I was asked if I could end my presentation with a demonstration of my firm’s Risk Management website.  “Sure, I just need an Internet connection in the room.”  Now I’m the kind of person who tests things three times before I’m convinced things are OK.  There’s just no excuse not to.  Back before laptops, I was the guy who took two copies of my (physical) slides with me whenever I presented, and I NEVER checked the slides as luggage.  Just not worth the risk.  So I made sure I was in the room about 20 minutes before the presentation to test that Internet connection and to make sure the right slides got loaded up.

I met the guy who was coordinating everything and he asked me “right, so where’s your computer?”  My stomach sank.  “What computer?  You guys converted my slides so you could put it on a PC.  You told me not to bring the Mac because you’ll have the computers.”  I couldn’t believe this was happening minutes before I’m about to talk about how to practice RISK MANAGEMENT of all things!  “No problem, we’ll have one here right away.”

After what felt an eternity, it arrived, was hooked up and off I go testing.  The PowerPoint worked fine, as it did months ago, and the Internet connection worked too but the screen resolution was lousy with that browser.  Two minutes before I’m supposed to start, I find myself running to my hotel room to grab my Mac laptop because, well, it’s because I hadn’t practiced anything like good risk management.

Risk Management isn’t easy.  Never mind trying to estimate the potential impacts on a financial portfolio made of stocks, bonds, options and swaps.  I mean just trying to give a presentation.

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