Dilemma - MBA Recommendations vs Getting What's Owed To Me

Orkid's picture
Orkid - Certified Professional
Rank: Orangutan | banana points 346

Hi,

I have a tricky situation I need some help with. I'm currently working at a small 6-man PE shop that recently merged with a listed company. Before it listed it was the partners and I, and I was treated as a partner with 10% profit share. This meant that anytime the partners paid out a bonus, they would get 30% each and I would get 10%.

The merger was pretty definitive almost half a year ago ... anyone with half a brain would then realise that chances are that from that point onward any excess cash would be reinvested in the business or held in the business for the merger/post-merger. My 10% has effectively been 0% since the talks and much more so since the merger actually happened. I have been promised my new employment contract for months now and have received nothing, even though I've been asking ... No one really cares. I've been working around the clock on the basis of an incentive structure, as if I'm also an equity partner though I'm not.

The partners used to have the same incentives as me with the previous structure. Now, they sold their company for shares. It was basically a reverse IPO as we are the only ones in the previously empty shell company. Clearly, they are motivated by share price now, i.e. reinvestment. I have been promised stock options but I mean it's been a year on a simple salary and no bonus or stock options in sight and I feel these should be backtracked and not given to me to receive one year from now.

I have a lot of negotiating power here. I have worked around the clock and I do the work of two people. I know for a fact that if I were to leave they would be screwed, especially since they couldn't find anyone comparable to me in this country, and they would not be able to entice a foreigner to go through what I went through to get a work permit here for what they pay.

To give you an example, I have developed a Due Diligence and Valuation tool for growth companies based on self-assessment. We use this tool for our companies, and for several consulting gigs we do for cash flow. To give you an idea of its power, we need to write around 16-page reports for 15 companies each quarter for only one of our cash cow clients. This is actually a stream of income we need in order to sustain our business, especially now that we have an EPS to report. My tool can create an unlimited number of these 16-page reports with valuations in one click of a button. Without my tool, that I used my weekends to develop with VBA and quite complicated "algorithms" and that is very difficult to create (according to my current former developer intern), each report would have taken about 4 days of undivided attention to create. My job's main function is investment analyst, so if we didn't have this tool we would need yet another employee just for that project (and maybe a little bit more).

This tool is now going to be spun-out, led by me, into its own self-assessment tool and has very good potential. Since I created it, I don't want it to be a wasted opportunity to get credit that is due.

To summarize, I have two issues:

1. I'm not incentivized
2. In hindsight, I've created the most scalable thing this business has which has gotten everyone excited, but feel like I will get nothing out of it (feeling like I will get screwed with this also). At the moment, if I were to leave, no one would probably be able to understand the tool in this firm or how to use it (I haven't left any instructions or anything), and they would therefore be pretty screwed with capacity, even if they replaced me with 2 or 3 people who would be very hard to find, at least at short notice before losing clients.

What I want:

1. Incentive structure that I deserve, and to not be taken advantage of like this because I haven't complained. It shouldn't be on me to drag it out of them. They should know the risks involved.
2. Shareholding/CEO or something with my name to it with regards to this "startup" we're spinning out.

Now the twist:

I am applying to do an MBA at a top school soon. I need recommendations. If I bring this up with my recommenders, I risk losing very good recommendations. However, I also want my initiative and entrepreneurialism to stand out in my applications, which it would if I became CEO or partner of this spin out that I created. You need to understand that this report is full of analytical text based on the combination of answers that the filler of the questionnaire completed and flows extremely smoothly. Think of it like automating a novel almost by asking e.g. "Do you want your main character to be a fighter or a nobleman?" A lot of work went into it (for selfish reasons because I wanted to do investment analyst work and not write boring reports quarter after quarter that are the same every time).

So, WSO, what do I do? I don't want to risk recommendations, but I can't be fired. My only risk are the recommendations. Firstly, t's very difficult to fire someone in this country, and they can't really afford to lose me. Second, I don't even care if I get fired to be honest since I'm looking to leave in the next year anyway because I don't like this emerging economy I'm in.

Where does my investment lie here? In what I can put on my resume? Is it worth risking recommendations trying to boost that part of the resume from entrepreneurial within the firm to actually publicly having my name attached to it? Should I simply lay out my demands as I feel like I've been taken for granted and quite frankly screwed by these people and not taken seriously at all? Because my impression is that they know that I am not incentivized, but it's a case of "Oh well he hasn't said anything so better not mention it ..." which is highly unethical in my opinion. I joined this firm because I thought they were good ethical people that would do right by me.

EDIT: I understand it may look straight-forward from an outsiders' perspective, but being in a small office where you're the only non-shareholder/director, office politics is a b*tch.

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