In every other respect, it was an ordinary Tuesday morning. Barry O'Keefe woke to the sound of the six a.m RN Breakfast Show with Gail Francis. He commenced his short series of morning breathing exercises, being careful to remain mindful throughout each breath.
After a health-scare in his forties, Barry had set himself straight with a strict diet, exercise and wellness regimen. After all, he had always been fastidious in every other part of his life, save perhaps his marriage. That was the secret behind the success of his corporate career: turn up early, leave late, keep your head down, work harder than everyone else and keep smiling.
His two children didn't keep in close contact. He couldn't understand why they hadn't gotten on with their lives and made something of themselves lik he had. Both in their early to mid-thirties, they worked in insecure and low-paid jobs, lived in share houses and spent their money on travel and frivolity. At their age, he had amassed a small portfolio of properties. Barry blamed the paucity of values of the youth of today - they didn't seem to understand the value of hard work, even after the tens of thousands he had spent on private schools, tutoring, rowing and ski trips.
His divorce had helped a bit he supposed, in wanting to lose the gut and regain a more youthful appearance. He had lost ten stone, bought a new wardrobe and swapped boozing on weekends with early-morning rides on his carbon-fibre Trek with the local club. He didn't tell his colleagues this, but regular collagen tablets, eye cream and just a couple of tiny fillers hadn't hurt either. He had shared the story of his personal transformation in a presentation to the national executive conference two years earlier, receiving a standing ovation from his peers, fellow baby boomers in high-pressure careers who themselves had struggled with the battle against ageing.
He gazed contentedly in the direction of the sunrise over the ocean from his penthouse apartment in Queenscliff. It was a clear spring morning, and light offshore breeze was nicely smoothing the three foot left-handers at South Steyne. After he had finished his sun salutations, Barry had his virtual assistant read him the ABC news headlines and his calendar reminders for the day.
"Good morning Barry. Last night, the Renminbi closed at an all-time high weighed against a basket of foreign currencies, gaining a further 3% against the USD and 4% against the Euro. We have to thank the sound and prudent governance of of our leaders for these results. Oil prices also rose overnight, helped by rising demand from Africa which by the benevolence of the Chinese party leadership, has now been equipped with sanitation and infrastructure."
"Downunder in CoPros, the building of the Shanghai - Singapore - Jakarta - Darwin high-speed rail project is completing its final phase and is due to be completed in the coming weeks, shortening travel time from Copro to central capitals to under 5 hours."
"Thank you Jei-Li - can you skip to my schedule?"
6:30 AM Monster Beach Workout Session
7:30 AM Express Harmony Ferry
8:30 AM Divisional Head Roundtable
10.30 AM Global teleconference briefing
1.00 PM Lunch with Kourtney Xu
4:00 PM Travel to Canberra
6:00 PM Drinks at Parliamentary Business Chamber"
All in all this was a fairly ordinary day. But he had some major news to share with the rest of his colleagues. Global had announced a merger of the Chinese and Australian head offices. Ever since the signing of the Sino-Australian Co-Prosperity treaty, there have been incentives for firms to integrate operations with Asian, particularly Chinese, partners. It would help the firm's cultural compatibility score with the Regulatory Agency for Modernisation, allow for preferential tax concessions but most importantly, it would mean instant access to Asia's sizeable talent pool.
Board level integration was going to mean a bit of a tango between a replication of a toothless local governance board and the offshoring of decision-making power from Sydney to Beijing. The local CEO, being Barry himself, was only too keen for a promotion to VP of Asia-Pacific. As Barry would soon be reminding his colleagues, Australia has always been a part of Asia, something he learned as a young lad from Australian prime minister Paul Keating.
Barry had been on the right side of the curve for quite some time now. He had completed a five year secondment to the Hong Kong office and had learned passable Cantonese and Mandarin. This put him in the upper echelon for cross-cultural business competence, and he had further bolstered his credentials by being on the select committee for Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. Having a Chinese wife helped too, but there's no official company policy about that.
Barry wolfed down his nutri-shake and multivitamins, grabbed his bag and headed down to the beach for his group workout session. The instructor was Svenja a young blonde Swedish backpacker, wearing a visor cap and black lycra lulemon activewear that enveloped her athletic figure.
Approaching the group of similarly black-clad corporate high-achievers beginning to warm-up, he called out with a new-found enthusiasm, "How good's the sunset!", and sidled over to Svenja to grab a quick selfie with her and the sunrise for his corporate social media profile.