Born, Dallas May 11, 1979
Moves to Oakland, age 2, 1980
Mother: Martha, Stepfather: Justin
Graduates from high school age 17, 1996
Princeton age 17, 1996
Justin dies 2002
Graduates age 23, 2002
Manhattan age 23 to 27, 2002 to 2006
Minneapolis age 27 to 29, 2006 to 2009
San Mateo, age 29, 2008
Valence Corp, age 29
First Executive position, age 30, 2009
Arnold Peters arrives at Valence, 2009
Meets Larry Thompson, age 31, 2010
Marries Larry, age 32, 2011
Valence merges, March 2013
Larry dies, Sept 2014
Arnold leaves Valence, Oct 2013
Susanne joins Distributed Nanotech, March 2016
Moves to Oakland hills, Nov 2016
Story starts, March 2019
Five foot seven, reddish blond hair, Irish ancestry, green eyes; she had freckles when she was a little girl, but those have pretty much vanished except for a couple around her nose. She has thin lips and loose breasts that she keeps tightly enclosed in a bra at all times. She likes the way she looks – thin waist, long legs. Hips could be smaller, cheeks too puffy and rosy, hair hard to control, cut mid length and curled to keep it from wandering.
She usually dresses in very business-like clothes. Usually wears a blouse that closes at the neck with a scarf or tie. She is very conscious of how she looks and wants to make sure people have the right view of her. When alone, she likes to wear warm, fuzzy, comfortable clothes – just like when she was a little girl.
Susanne was born in Dallas, Texas, but her mother, Martha, moved to Oakland when Susanne was two. Her mother left her father, who was an alcoholic. Her mother remarried when Susanne was four. Her stepfather, Justin, adopted her when she was five. He was a business executive with a consumer products company – made good money. They lived in Piedmont, an upscale neighborhood. Susanne’s mother, Martha worked in an electronics company from the time she moved to Oakland until she married Justin.
Thomas was born a year after Martha remarried (5 years younger). He died in an auto accident when Susanne was 24.
Susanne excelled in school. Not only was she bright and fast on her feet, she had an internal drive that made it possible for her to do all the work her teachers asked of her, and usually a little more.
She had her first serious romance when she was in her sophomore year in high school. She fell in love with Michael, a senior. That was a hard year for her. The romance went bad. She made love to him and then found out that he was seeing another girl. She was angry and rebelled in her classes. By her junior year, she was feeling better, but didn’t date but a few times for the rest of High School.
Susanne went to Princeton where she started dating again. She majored in business with a focus on marketing. College was a bit of a disappointment because she found that most of the students with business majors were not as bright as she was. They also tended to party rather than work. Semester abroad spring of her junior year in Florence, takes a semester off to travel in Europe, she graduates with honors at age 23.
A large network corporation in Manhattan recruited Susanne at graduation. She worked there four years in marketing communications (two years) and customer communications before taking a job with a computer company in Minneapolis (age 27). At the computer company, she managed field customer support for the Northeast. After two winters in Minneapolis, Susanne found a customer service manager job in Silicon Valley at a software company, Valence (age 29), and moved to San Mateo.
Two years after moving back to California, Susanne met Larry Thompson. Everything about him was different: he wasn’t in business; he raced cars. He didn’t live anywhere in particular; he was always on the move. He dropped out of college. He was black. But Larry was the most exciting person she had ever met. They met at a party given by a high school friend of Susanne. Susanne had looked up some of her girl friends when she moved back to the bay area. Every once in a while, she would be in town when one of them had a party.
It was a very on again and off again kind of romance because they both traveled: she on business, he to races. When she could, she would travel to a track where he raced and watch the race. Being in the pit with the sounds of the cars and the smell of the machines was exciting.
By the time she was 30, she had moved into executive management. She had always been a leader. In high school she had been the ringleader of her group of girlfriends. In business, she found that she had an easy time making decisions and that people like to follow her. Her natural intelligence meant that she did well with technology and soon became a project manager for large customer projects. Her first executive position was as VP of consulting.
A month after she became a VP, the CEO of Valence quit and Arnold Peters arrived to take over. The company took off and Susanne got to see how a strong executive could turn a company around and make it go fast.
Susanne could not get enough of Larry. She worked seventy to eighty hours a week and then spent every weekend with Larry. When he proposed, she immediately accepted. Unlike most decisions in her life, which were made with her intellect, this one was made with her heart. They had a large wedding that her mother planned in detail.
She was thirty-two when they married. Larry raced Nascar, and so for their honeymoon they went to Europe for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, Formula One races.
Valence, headed by Arnold, was doing very well and was approached by a bigger company for an acquisition. Susanne knew that, from a business perspective, it made sense and for her personally it would be a very good thing, but she had reservations because she thought that Arnold would not stay for long after the merger. Sure enough, nine months after the merger Arnold left. She knew that he left behind a stay bonus because she had one too. She was promoted to be EVP – number two.
Susanne and Larry decide to have a child.
Two months after Arnold left, Susanne was watching Larry race at Sears Point. Just after turn seven as Larry and another car were accelerating through the S curves, the other driver tried to pass and clipped Larry’s back wheel. The car swerved to the left up the bank, flipped over, and bounced end over end. On one of the bounces, the detachable steering wheel detached and drove a rib through Larry’s lung and the envelope around his heart. Larry died two days later.
The stay bonus was for twelve months. But only a ten months later, her phone rang. It was Arnold. He was with DNI and wanted to tell her about the opportunity. They danced for a couple of months, and then she joined DNI in March 2016.
Susanne lives in a hilltop place near the Oakland zoo. It has a great view of the bay and San Francisco. The house is a low, single-story, California ranch style that circles around a pool that enjoys the full view of the bay. She drives a BMW sports car.
Susanne has a very good relationship with her mother. Justin died 17 years ago when Susanne was in college. After a significant period of mourning, Martha became involved in politics. She is now on the county Democratic committee and a delegate to the state.
When Susanne was eight, her grandfather died. She remembers sitting on his lap listening to him tell stories. Her natural father died the same year from the effects of alcoholism.
Susanne loves Arnold like the father she lost, but she knows that he is a master manipulator. She has seen him in operation with her and other executives. She studies his skill, and is afraid of the power he has over her.
She lives her life balanced between the anxiety that work stress causes and the need for the adventure and challenge of her high-pressure job. Larry was like that: she would be tense and afraid when he raced and lost in passion when they were alone.
What drives her? What is her redeeming value?
Addiction to adventure, stress, and anxiety.
She cares about the people that work for her. She doesn’t want to fail them. It’s not the money. She knows that future financial success helps motivate people, but, although it might appear to be her motivation, it isn’t. She doesn’t want to fail Justin. She communicates her successes to Martha as a way to talk to Justin, but that doesn’t quite do it. While Larry encouraged her in her career, he thought of it as an adventure. Instead, her fear of failure drives her.
Susanne shares her mother’s do-good sentiments. Susanne believes that further automation will free people from drudgery. However, she knows that it isn’t working that way. The answer must lie in developing greater respect and caring for others.