Fridays are often quiet days, when the archivists are processing boxes of records and everyone else is tying up loose ends. Today, however, the Center was a-buzz when I walked in. Several members of our security and investigative services—from Hong Kong, Mexico City, Long Island, and Tampa—were being filmed in a borrowed room a few floors down, as part of beginning to capture their institutional memory. The shoot went on throughout the day, with interviewees coming to our floor afterward to tour the Center, meet the personnel, and talk through potential projects. If the videos go well, we hope to expand the program to other departments. ( The dream would be to take it into the C-suite and Board of Directors, which would add a vital dimension to our 200 years’ worth of Board minute books. Check in within a couple of years, and I’ll let you know how we’re getting along with that.)
I got word that our original (1977) ATM is being loaned to us long-term. Note to self: Must write extended label to mount alongside it. Having the ATM means that we will be able to exhibit it at the upcoming alumni event–but as it will take the place of one of the two artifact display tables, I spent late morning rethinking which artifacts to retain (good-bye adding machine, check embossing machine) and slimming down the numbers of ads and handbooks. A key part of the process is to work with the archivist to determine how to give people access to some our neat stuff without getting any of it damaged. The early ATM card and credit card will be sandwiched between plexiglass, for example. The office coordinator also made a significant contribution. After spending hours searching the digitized employee newsletters, she had located some 30 of these alumni in articles and photographs—lists of promotions, classified ads, team sporting events—which we will print on large card stock and encourage people to pass from hand to hand as conversation pieces.
Fridays are also the day that I sit down with the Center’s director to go over the Research and Analysis projects. Today that included finalizing a piece on Citi’s support for soldiers, reservists, and veterans over the last 200 years, plans to support the communicators who create content for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, ways to move forward a history of Citi’s Private Bank, as well as histories for three countries where Citi is about to celebrate 50th anniversaries, Switzerland, Greece, and the Netherlands.
The final part of the day went into looking how to build a database of “knowledge assets” (corporate-speak for facts and information that are thoroughly documented). We already have an extensive database for our US art collection, which over the next year or so is being expanded to account for all pieces of art that the company owns worldwide. Ditto for the archives collection. Some of the information that will be in “my” database will come from our recent publications:
Thank you for shadowing me over this last week, and thank you to Michelle for giving me the opportunity to write. I don’t know that I’ve been able to give much insight into how or why someone becomes what my boss calls a “recovering academic,” but if you have any questions, I’m fairly easy to reach and more than happy to try to answer them.
Serge Halvorsen says
Patricia, thank you so much for the very interesting blog. Your boss’ term “recovering academic” is funny, but I’d say a bit inaccurate. The work you are doing seems intensely academic, albeit in a corporate context, and in some ways you might be doing even more “academic” work than I, and some of my colleagues, who are immensely burdened with administrative work. Your blog (perhaps unintentionally) is a fantastic recruitment pitch for the kind of work you do.
Patricia Fann Bouteneff says
Serge, It’s interesting that you should note the relative lack of administrative work. There is administrative work, but at my level I don’t come in for a lot of the onerous kind. What I find even more notable is that there is a lot more teamwork than you find in the academic world. In fact, individuality of thought and sole ownership of any given piece of work seems almost a fetish in academia (having said that, one of my best articles was a collaboration with two other outstanding Greek scholars). Not having full control over my own work grated on me at first–that I never had sole responsibility for a document, that almost anyone seemed to be able to edit my choice of words. Over time, however, I’ve gotten to feel professionally naked without having excellent colleagues and their trenchant criticism at/on my side.