Quince & Co and professionalism
Based on my experiences working for advertising agencies, tech companies, and other organizations with intellectual property and being a consultant for 15 years, I have some thoughts (which may make me unpopular).
Yep, Ryan crossed a line. Sounds like a lousy manager with unpolished communication skills who could use coaching and HR guidance. It was rude for him to ask Christine to train his girlfriend for free. He did not appreciate that her fee included the experience and brilliance she, and only she, brought to the project—Bravo for saying no.
Yet, she could have put up a boundary before the situation got to this place. Since interviews are two-way conversations – both parties are testing the others – Ryan's ongoing requests for more spec work (aka homework) should have been a red flag (at least to me). As a consultant, you learn to walk away.
Was he exploitive? No. He was self-focused and took advantage of her. It was business. Not personal.
But really – asking the internet to ruin the company? When the problem seems to be with an individual? While it’s personally satisfying to have a mob cheer your outrage, does mob anger solve real issues? And by smearing Ryan’s insensitive behavior onto the rest of Quince and Co. employees, suppliers, and customers – now, who is crossing the line?
Be angry. Write a flame email (and don’t send it). Scream at the mirror or call your friends. Do what needs to be done to release the anger. Then self-reflect and figure out how to establish your own boundaries, so it doesn’t happen again.
Ryan was solving a business problem. He did it poorly. By putting it on the internet, Christine turned this into a personal attack. Not the most professional way to handle a situation.
As for the “Free Leila’s designs” part of the firestorm, someone correct me if I have this wrong. Leila was an employee at Quince. It is intellectual property law that the work you do for your employer belongs to them. You do not have rights to your work after leaving (ask the Uber self-driving car guy. That assumption cost him $147MM). Unless she had a contract that states otherwise, all rights to her work belong to Quince & Co. Why is this open for discussion?
Let’s tone down the rhetoric. Let’s elevate the professionalism in the industry on all sides. Calling names and inciting a mob is best left on the playground.