Interview with Consulta CEO
By Adrienne Brookbanks
I’ve been working at Consulta Research for about two
months. During this time, I’ve learned a great deal of lingo (“pivots”, “cem”,
“V-lookups”) and I’ve noticed that everything revolves around one person – Prof
One of the reasons I was appointed was to help Prof Adre
with his “blog guilt” [adj. pronunciation: ley-zee-ness]– a severe illness that
preys on people who set up fascinating Word Press blogs, but fail to update
them. Ever. In order to soothe this “blog guilt”, I set up the first of what
will be many blog discussion meetings.
At approximately 1pm yesterday afternoon, I made my way up
to Prof Adre’s office for our meeting. As I approached the office and reached
for the door knob, Estie (Prof Adre’s ruthless patrol guard that decides who
gets to see him and when) jumped out of nowhere, creating a human shield between
myself and the door.
“You’re early!” she said accusingly.
five minutes,” I replied feebly, trying to see past her through the crack in the
door into the office.
“Wait here,” she said untrustingly, turning away to
squeeze herself into the office, swiftly shutting the door in my face.
hung around, stroking and prodding my Blackberry while waiting for Estie to
appear again. After a few minutes, she opened the door a crack to reveal only
“Prof Adre will see you now,” she said ominously as she
squeezed out of the tiny door opening she created, before moving aside so I
could enter the room.
I walked in, expecting to smell Old Spice and see
Prof Adre doing “normal CEO things” (shaking hands in front of globes,
presenting oversized cheques, peering over somebody’s shoulder to sign a piece
of paper on a clipboard), but instead he was standing by a window, staring out
into the office park in Esdoring street.
“I’ve been waiting for you to
come,” he said softly, almost sadly.
“Yup – well I’m here now and I can’t
wait to start interviewing you for the CustomerX blog, I really think we can
“I started this company so many years ago,” he said, cutting me off
“When we started doing research, many of our clients didn’t
even know what customer experience meant.”
I silently sat down in a chair
by his desk and watched him carefully.
“A couple of years ago, the South
African market research community was in really bad shape. Business growth had
stalled, and even reversed amongst many of our clients. We were getting squeezed
by competitors offering tickets to Cirque du Soleil with their mystery shopping
packages and it was getting hard to keep up.”
I started dutifully writing
all of this down, but soon discovered I couldn’t write that fast. I angled my
notebook away from him and faked it. In fact a lot of what he said in the
previous paragraph was made up (sorry).
As I doodled on my notebook, I
noticed a stack of wood in the corner of the office. My eyes wondered to his
desk, where I saw a huge map, a compass and what looked like a blueprint of the
“BANG!” shouted Prof Adre while slamming his fist on the
blueprint, making the entire room tremble.
“You see where I’m going with
this?” he asked me, his eyes both excited and menacing.
“Uhm, sorry I
must’ve drifted off for a second. Where were we?” I asked nervously while
fumbling through my notes.
“We’re building an ark! For everyone in
“An….ark?” I asked doubtfully.
going to Fiji!” he said gleefully, pulling up a chair and stretching out a huge
blueprint in front of me.
“We’re going to build this ship and sail to Fiji. Everyone’s
going to come and we’re going to build the ship ourselves,” he said looking at
me eagerly, waiting for me to wrap my head around the concept.
people are going to be on the ship?” I asked while looking at the blueprint in
“Thousands! Maybe even tens of thousands!” he
“But we’re only about 140 people in the company?” I asked in
“Okay well a hundred – two hundred max” he said while looking
at the ship blueprint and shrugging his hand at me.
“What if they don’t
want to come? What will you do then?” I asked.
“My Consultians are an
imaginative, impulsive lot…they’ll come.”
Suddenly Prof Adre swung his
chair around, looked me dead in the eye and opened his two palms, presenting a
blue pill and a red pill.
“You have a choice, Niel. You take the blue
pill, and you start tumbling down the rabbit hole. You take the red pill, and it
all stops here. Are you ready to see how deep the rabbit hole goes?"
realised he was trying to recreate the scene between Morpheus and Neo in The
“No – I’m in,” I assured him.
“Your job is to get everyone on board. Only a few
of us know about this – Yolandi, Johan, the girl with the purple hair…” Prof
Adre drifted off.
“The point is that everyone’s in for a fascinating
ride. The ship sets sail to Fiji on 21 September,” he said.
September?” I asked.
“I dunno, it’s Helen’s birthday and it seemed like a
good day to go. Spread the word, Adrienne.
We need to make sure
everyone’s on board – it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime.”
None of this actually happened. Stay tune for
riveting (real) articles from Prof Adre on the CustomerX blog – coming to a screen