Interview with Consulta CEO

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by ConsultaPanel Team, 30 Sep 2011

By Adrienne Brookbanks

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 Adre Shreuder.

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.

The first encounter

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.

“Only 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.

I 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 her face.

“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 mid-sentence.

“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 Taj Mahal.

“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 Consulta Research!”

“An….ark?” I asked doubtfully.

“Indeed. We’re 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.

“How many people are going to be on the ship?” I asked while looking at the blueprint in amazement.

“Thousands! Maybe even tens of thousands!” he replied.

“But we’re only about 140 people in the company?” I asked in disbelief.

“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?"

I realised he was trying to recreate the scene between Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix.

“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.

“Why 21 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 near you!


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