I wake disoriented to two waiters in black and white lifting me up between them as they carry me down the hallway at the Fortune Global Forum. As one loses his grip and I smack a corner into the floor (scratching my finish no doubt) I can’t help but think…The life of a banquet table is not enviable at all.
But it’s not all bad! Today marks the beginning of the event us tables have been anticipating for weeks in Paris. The speeches I will hear! The conversations I will secretly listen in on! And the food…oh the wonderful food.
My legs are unfolded, and I am given a choice spot in the middle of the room. I will be able to hear everything from here. Guests begin to file in and I am happy to see that Shunee Yee of CSOFT is seated at….well…me. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen her at these forums, but it is the first time I’ll get a chance to get up close and personal with her. As she sits down, she mentions how excited she is for the Fortune Most Powerful Women breakfast today.
Shunee says she’s looking forward to the presentation from CEO Julie Sweet. Speaking of sweet, the waiter has just brought out some pastries and coffee. I’m an absolute fiend for anything pastry (or I would be, if I had taste buds and a stomach to speak of).
Julie Sweet makes a remark that seems to pique Shunee’s interest. She says that “If your dream doesn’t scare you, then your dream is probably not big enough.” Shunee asks her “How much is scared enough?” Everyone in the room laughs at this. I can’t say that I find it particularly funny, but then again I’m just a banquet table, and the height of humor for me is someone falling out of their chair. The guests begin to go, but I’m not worried. They’ll be back for the evening meal, a feast prepared by David Bizet of Le Taillevent.
Dinner is upon us, and once again I play host to Shunee! The waiter sets a plate on me that instantly grabs my attention. Crab meat with green apple and avocado gazpacho! How did he know I love crab? As I see that each diner gets a plate, with none for me, I realize that the waiter likely doesn’t care that I love crab. I can’t hold it against him. He doesn’t get a taste either. Crab and green apple seem an unlikely pairing, but Shunee claims that the combination has made her day.
Shunee really seems to enjoy these presentations. She mentions something about digitalizing medical data, which is a bit over my head. The CEO of Novartis also discusses recreating medicines, which does not seem to really apply to me, as nobody has gotten around to worrying about table medicine yet. The CEO of GEHC speaks for a while on clinical trials, which is of some interest to me, as my cousin is a laboratory table who got a sweet job in a clinical trial facility last year.
Finally it is time for the main event! No, not the discussions on privacy, data security, or climate change. Not even the debates on globalization and transactional costs. No, the main event is surely this lovely sea bass poached in licorice milk with cucumbers, spinach, and caviar. Steam slowly rises from the flaky, tender sea bass, and if I had a mouth you just know it’d be watering. In my gluttonous state, I can’t help but notice that they certainly didn’t skimp on the caviar.
I sleep restlessly, perhaps anticipating the coming of the forum’s second day, which begins with a luncheon. The diners keep talking about something called globalization. The debate seems heated, with some very excited about globalization and what it means to scientific and medical development. Others seem wary of the transactional costs. My opinion on it? I take a look at the six people seated around me, each coming from a different country. Globalization achieved.
Late afternoon brings a discussion about people and machines. Shunee seems very interested in what CEO Paul Hudson of Sanofi had to say. He says that we all need to let go of our prejudices towards certain concepts, and look at new ways of doing things. This strikes a bit of a chord with me, as I have felt prejudice towards chairs for years. They are quite small, you can’t even put food on them, and I’m not even going to get into the personality issues. That said, I will take what Mr. Hudson says to heart and try to make a change.
A dessert wine arrives to finish off the dinner, a lovely white that looks crisp and refreshing. The diners enjoy the wine without spilling a drop, a kindness that does not go unappreciated by yours truly. I am sad to see the event wrap up, but really felt honored to be such an important part of the experience. Without me, these CEOs and industry leaders would all be standing up, eating off of paper plates! More than anything, I will be sad to take leave of Ms. Shunee Yee of CSOFT. It was my first time hosting her at my tabletop, and it was interesting to see the various things she took from all these presentations. With the Fortune Global Forum ending, it’s back to the closet for me, but I look forward to the next big event as I go to sleep with dreams of Fortune, powerful women, and of course caviar.