The second interview for the new CEO which Sally Gulliver and charismatic headhunter Harry Aske carried out was in a discreet room tucked away in the basement of Global Blancmange.
Sally told me about it afterwards. I was indisposed, having had a number of strictly medicinal Baby Bios the night before. I never before realised the ruinous effects of certain medicines, especially taken with enthusiasm.
Mark Temple loped in to meet them. He was outlandishly tall, standing over six five in his executive socks. Bespectacled, he had (reported Sally) a voice like a hamster who had just been having a particularly riotous time on his wheel: high-pitched and enthusiastic. He shook hands with them both as if their arms were levers he was able to pump for information. ‘So tell me, Sally, how long have you worked here? Any good, is it? Can’t believe you lost so much share in Q2 to Universal Semolina – their proposition’s terrible. Reception’s a bit tired, isn’t it? Do people like working here? Not sure I would. That’s mostly why I want the job.’
They looked at him, baffled. Harry cleared his throat, tentatively. ‘You wouldn’t want to work here – so that’s why you want us to employ you?’
‘You wouldn’t want to work here – so that’s why you want us to employ you?’
‘Yes! I wouldn’t want to work here, don’t see why other people should. So need to do something about it! How can we make the employees want to work here? How can they make our customers want everything we do? The two fundamental questions! Well, that, and where’s my coffee. Where is my coffee, by the way…?’
They got him a coffee.
‘So,’ he continued, without obviously pausing for breath, ‘tell me what you see your main issues are, and the kind of person you’d like to sort them out. Got any sugar? Daft question to ask in a pudding factory. Hang on, what’s in here..?’
Before they could stop him, Mark Temple, coffee cup slopping in his hand, marched out of the interview room and straight into the meeting room next door, followed hastily by a spluttering Harry Aske, and a protesting Sally Gulliver. ‘Hello! What are you doing? That looks interesting. My name’s Mark – these good people are attempting to interview me. Good God, is your pipeline really that dire? Suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, with research showing the Global Blancmange brand has plunged 12.8% in the last five months alone. What’s it like working here? What would you do, if you were in charge? Don’t suppose you happen to have any sugar?’ Next Friday: Meet Annie James
Bingleby was confiding in Richard Goff
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