woensdag 4 januari 2012

My years at Research International - Memories of Phil Barnard - Michael Roe - Jon Wilkinson.

4/ My years at Research International

4A                        The Early Days of Research International
                      By Phil Barnard  -  CEO Research International Worldwid

- And in the beginning
.................there was Unilever. As one of the largest multinational fast moving consumer goods companies, it led the way in keeping close to its consumers throughout the world. It was the most decentralised and ‘local’ in its approach to each national
This led, from the 1930s, to Unilever’s establishing consumer research departments in many of its businesses around the globe. From the 1960s it began converting these cost centres into stand-alone businesses, sometimes merging units together (eg. here in the UK, the central Unilever Market Research Department was merged with the research unit of its advertising agency, Lintas, to form Research Bureau Limited in 1962).

Stricter financial objectives were set although, in the early days, any ‘surplus’ (‘profit’ was not yet a term in common use!) had to be returned to our Unilever clients! This changed as we were permittedby the Unilever Board to take ‘Third Party’ clients albeit with a low percentage cap on the level of non-Unilever business we could accept.

As Ken Fraser and Mike Angus, RBL’s first two Managing Directors, were succeeded by Eileen Cole, the restrictions on our business freedom were gradually eased and eventually we were able to seek business from virtually any organisation that did not compete directly with Unilever, and to make whatever profit we could (a theoretical freedom for some time, it has to be said!). The quid pro quo was that by this time our Unilever-owned clients were no longer forced to buy their ad hoc research from us; so, we were entering the real world of competition.

With all that’s happened in the intervening half century, it is perhaps easy to forget what a remarkable company RBL was. Its resources were unmatched with a huge postal panel; test centres; massive fieldforce (rivalled only by BMRB and the BBC!); pioneering
UK telephone interviewing and the application of computers to MR; international research leadership and conducting more qualitative research than any other British agency. 

Innovation was in our blood. Not only were there constant technical advances arising from the unique Basic Research Programme, funded by Unilever through RBL’s Technical Control & Development Division (and equivalent bodies in three other countries), but we also had an early leap into continuous research with
distribution/price checks and Ian Hunt’s Motorists Diary Panel. Later to become my predecessor as CEO Research International Worldwide.

We recruited and trained the best executives in the research business and increasingly developed specialisms in agricultural; medical; industrial; social and other sectors as well as our ‘bread and butter’ of consumer packaged goods markets. All in all, we had
the most professional ‘services’ departments as well as being something of a university of the market research world. I’ve laboured the point about our unique heritage in the UK because it was a key driver in the Unilever review that ultimately resulted in
Research International’s emerging as the world’s leading full service market research company.

Some of RBL’s research assets were found to a (generally) lesser, but variable, degree in the research units that Unilever had in other countries. The Board of Unilever determined in 1972 that, in a similar way to the creation of its Detergents, Toilet Preparations, Foods etc. international ‘Coordination Groups’, so market research
would be coordinated on a multinational basis from the beginning of 1973.
Initially, four countries (plus RBL’s overseas subsidiaries- see below) would be involved: UK, (West) Germany, France and the Netherlands. They would form the European Market Research Group (EMRG) and report to a Head Office based in Rotterdam. Eileen
Cole, hitherto Chairman of RBL, was appointed its head and, thus, the Chairmen/Managing Directors of RBL

The Head Office team was kept small - initially comprising, in addition to ‘Miss Cole’ (as she always remained to many). Given the preponderance of Brits., the Rotterdam location was felt to provide some geographic balance at a time when ‘sensitivities’ still existed between Unilever’s twin power bases of London and Rotterdam.
So, what did EMRG do? It was far from a passive Head Office as all
those knowing Eileen Cole would not be surprised to learn.

Naturally, there were commercial targets set by the ‘Concern’ (as Unilever was commonly known) and, to use a modern term, they were somewhat ‘gold-plated’ by EC. Through the EMRG Policy Committee (Eileen plus the four Unit Heads, supported by Messrs. Wiegers and Barnard) she established the famous 10/10 targets ie.
10% profit on turnover and 10% share of the MR market in each country (each of the four founder members of EMRG was among the top 3 ad hoc research companies in its own country; RBL was actually no. 1).

The 1973 oil crisis and related economic distress rendered most of EMRG’s financial goals, and those of its constituent businesses, courageously unachievable for several years to come! Nevertheless, these were the years when a wide range of ambitious
programmes were established to help build the RI that would become the acknowledged world leader: international seminars covering key business sectors/technique areas; training programmes; international transfers (especially to and from RBL); establishment of research study classification systems and multinational client databases; global research brand development; best practice transfer; new business development; diversification; aquisition; a much higher external profile through
conference/seminar participation and the publication of cutting edge papers..........

Some of this, and other international activities, built on what had already been set in motion before EMRG was created. For example, the ‘Linked Unit’ system began in the 1960s. Senior executives from more ‘advanced’ units (usually RBL!) were designated as ‘minders’ of smaller, ‘less sophisticated’ units. I remember being allocated Belgium (SUMA), Italy (CER) and Sweden (IFH) as my ‘territory’, tasked with bringing technical and commercial enlightenment to them through regular contact and consultancy visits!

The Middle East and Africa featured prominently; interviewer teams were sometimes imprisoned and a certain colonial spirit which oozed sang-froid and acknowledged the role of bribery and alcohol was indispensible. Typically, the RBL executive visited the country, set up and ran the project (including recruiting a temporary fieldforce) and then returned home carrying the questionnaires for hand tabulation in London!

Where, I hear you ask, was ‘Research International’ in these times of ‘RBL’ and the early days of ‘EMRG’. Well, the name itself predated the formation of EMRG and, together with RI’s first logo (a blue, people-populated globe), was created by Lintas’s Presight unit in
the 1960s to provide an umbrella brand under which RBL and its sister units (still, at that time, reporting separately to Unilever National Management in their respective countries) could offer international research to clients. Although for internal Unilever
purposes the Management Coordination Group was known as EMRG, to clients (both Unilever and Third Party) the name ‘Research International’ became increasing familiar as more multi-country studies were conducted.

For national research, the local unit name continued in use (RBL, IVE etc.) although membership of RI was signalled in the letterhead. Eventually, the suffix ‘Research International’ was added to the local name in most cases, followed by a war of attrition (in which ‘reluctant’ units used legal, ‘client familiarity’ and straightforward chauvinism weapons to argue for the retention of their local name) over many years before going the ‘Full Monty’ and adopting the name ‘Research International’, usually as a prefix to
the country name, e.g. RIUK, RI Nederland.......

Of course, the key to everything was clients. When EMRG began in 1973, its client list was still dominated by Unilever’s national companies (in the UK: Levers, Gibbs, van den Berghs, Batchelors and so on) and we handled 80% of their ad hoc research. However,
the third party portfolio had already grown to one third of our business from less than a tenth five years earlier (in RBL’s case, from 16% to 40%).

The future EMRG units had, in fact, been phenomenally successful in building third party business. Our Unilever parentage had bequeathed us a unique palette of techniques, resources, highly trained talent (with RBL’s graduate training scheme widely considered the industry’s best) and a closeness to marketing and advertising that our competitors could not match.
All of this proved highly attractive to third party clients and we had another key feature, not greatly exploited by our Unilever clients at that time, namely expertise in international research coordination. Having increasing numbers of RI units under common (EMRG) ownership and management, engaging in the same training programmes, familiar with each other and our proprietary techniques and experienced in coordinating international projects was a source of comfort to a growing number of multinational companies.

So, even in 1973, over half our non-Unilever business was for mncs, predominantly American. You could argue that RI was built on ashes as the most important product category was tobacco, followed by pharmaceuticals; petrol/oil; office equipment; alcohol; cosmetics; media owners; snacks/confectionery; coffee/tea and food.
The close relationship we had with our clients (and not only Unilever ones) meant that account conflict guidelines had been drawn up by EMRG which restricted to some extent the business we were able to handle even when conflicting clients/product fields could be managed by different research groups in a country.

A review of RI/EMRG’s early days would not be complete without mentioning the role of ‘The Globe’. This journal was launched by EMRG in 1974, edited primarily by Elizabeth Hussey, and sought to provide a means of communicating information and ideas among
Research International employees. It not only covered clients; seminars; techniques; business development; organisational changes; competitors and a wide range of research-related issues but also focussed particularly on the people in our units. This helped to ‘flesh out’ the sometimes transitory contacts made across countries between ‘Master’ and ‘Commissioned’ units in conducting international research projects.
In its fifth year (July 1977), EMRG Head Office moved from the Netherlands to the UK, a more ‘natural’ home for a global research business, relocating in Unilever offices off London’s Fleet Street.

4B            Phil Barnard retires    --- Esomar newsbrief - July 1999

Philip Barnard has now retired as Chairman of Kantar, the WPP research arm - the third largest research group in the world controlling Research lnternational BMRB lnternational Millward Brown, Kantar Media Research, Goldfarb Consultants, IMRB and Winona.. He remains as non- Executive Chairman of Kantor in a consultancy capacity, but no longer has a non-stop day-to-day role. He talked to Phyllis Vangelder during his last active week ot the headquarters of Kantar in central London.

"It will be nice to have time to live at a different pace. You don't even get away from work on holiday. As often as not, your holidays are tacked onto the beginning or end of business meetings in various countries and if you remain in the country you are drawn into other meetings. But of course, it has been an enormous privilege to have this job and go to so many countries. I am very curious and try to see places for what they are, to see people's culture through their background. I try to suspend the fact that I am a British visitor and hear and absorb impressions in an objective way".
This is the scientist talking. Like so many top researchers in his peer group, Philip Barnard's education was not linked directly to market research. His degree in Natural Sciences at Cambridge was followed by a fourth year doing experimental psychology (very useful for evaluating the qualitative research studies which were emerging in the '60s). "The market research industry has a richness and good balance because so many of us came from different disciplines.
The scientific discipline and objectivity underpinning what we do, often starting from hypo theses and testing them, differentiates us from other sectors in the marketing information world. Market researchers tend to have clear analytical minds and the essence of what they can give - the search for truth and objectivity- is invaluable to organisations of every kind".

Although the ownership of the organisations has changed (Unilever, the Ogilvy Group and finally WPP), and, of course, his functions within them as he progressed steadily to the top, Philip Barnard's life career has been with the same group. Starting as a graduate trainee with Research Bureau Ltd (RBL), the research arm of Unilever, he was soon recognised as a potential high flyer, progressing via posts in The Netherlands and Germany to head of RBL, UK and then, via the US, to CEO/Chairman of RI and subsequently Kantar. In 1973 Unilever pulled together its main research units into the European Market Research Group, based in The Netherlands and he joined Eileen Cole in Rotterdam. He was back at RBL in the UK in 1977 and in 1984 went to Germany to run IVE and Marplan. In 1986 he again returned to the UK to head RBL, changing its name to RI UK and masterminding the move from a converted soap factory in Wapping in the East End to its present prestigious location at Hyde Park Corner, in London's Knightsbridge area.
At the same time he developed a federal structure within the company, with specialisms in different profit areas. WPP bought the Ogilvy Group in 1989, forming Kantar in I993 to bring the worldwide research entities together.
Philip Barnard became the first CEO/Chairman in 1993, as well as remaining as Head of Research International for a further 18 months.

We talked about the changes he had seen in the industry during the past four decades. "As in other professional areas we have become more industrialised, moving from a kitchen-table industry to a business environment. There are now more people who have a top management and business mindset in our industry. Perhaps we miss out on the sparkle and creative insight of the early days, but we are now running big businesses.
"Respondents were much more open and responsive to market research in the '60s. A lot of Unilever's work was in interviewing housewives and they were usually delighted to have a dull day interrupted by a market researcher. It was a time when we could invent new things - I introduced a Family Buying Index, a Smokers Panel (unacceptable today) and ran a Motorists Panel. We also found we could extrapolate the purchasing power of many products from ad hoc surveys on a panel, and this I suppose is the precursor of today's Access panels. New small companies were being set up - some of these are the ones now being snapped up by conglomerates as their original owners retire. There was more 'ivory tower' time. We had a Technical Control and Development division which had money pumped into it by Unilever to develop research into research. We still have budgets to develop new techniques and systems, but now there is a tighter focus on achieving competitive advantage.

International research
"Apart from the set-backs during the oil crisis, the research industry has been remarkably resilient. In the '70s internationalism became more rooted. I was very fortunate to be around when international research was developing and Research International was in the vanguard of this movement. We had a strong headstart with the EMRG. Nielsen, IMS and Gallup were really the only other significant international groups. The first two were in very specialised areas and Gallup was made up of separate companies. We were pioneering international ad hoc consumer research. At the time I was heavily involved with the International Committee within the UK Market Research Society as well as in ESOMAR with international seminars and statistics. We contributed to a Panorama of the EC which took every industry and looked at it on an EC basis. I used to write the chapter on research.

Standard Research techniques
"During the '80s we saw the spread of standard research techniques. Europe has been behind the US in this area. In the early days we believed that every problem had its unique solution. In the US they did not have the semi-intellectual pretensions (some would say arrogance).        They are much more action-orientated and the development of standard products for NPD, simulated testmarkets, pricing, customer satisfaction, ad testing, brand equity and so on was pioneered in the States. They gradually spread to Europe and are now a significant part of our industry.
"Best practice now is to benefit from the knowledge of past generations and previous research and accept that many problems are very similar and a set of standardised techniques produce data that can be compared cross country and products, although there might be slightly different variants for different products and markets. Our major clients are multinational and they want databases of results that can be interpreted across markets. The move to standard branded techniques is very much client-driven. Clients are becoming increasingly sophisticated and we are under pressure from them to provide information that can be presented throughout their organisations. We can help clients to co-ordinate the internal dissemination of this information and learning.
"Of the $11 billion market for research, 35 % is syndicated market and media measurement. Qualitative research, which accounts for some 15%, is more specific problem-orientated, but even here branded products have been developed. Branded quantitative techniques account for
20-25%. It is these branded products and the syndicated services which are now globalised.
The '90s are like the '60s in that everything is being challenged. Our boundaries are now uncertain. Associated with this is the change in the nature of marketing: relationship marketing, on-line and e-commerce are making us reconsider our roles. How do we treat anonymity, data-mining, fusion? Our task in the '90s is to deliver the things that clients want, ideally in partnership arrangements".

The future
Philip Barnard remains optimistic about the future of market research "Our core competencies, dealing with fresh objective data and our conceptual abstract orientation cannot be equalled. If this is linked with smarter business acumen we remain unique. We may have to recognise that market researchers are of two types: the business man or woman and the technical researcher.
Some have been able to straddle both areas. The future is not only for global companies. There are still niche opportunities in the whole information sector.
However, the main thrust in the industry is from big research companies, operating transnationally, focusing on one or more business categories or types of research. These can afford to employ people with different kinds of skills.
"We still do not know who will take the leadership in  integrating research with areas such as database management and competitive intelligence in the next century.
Certainly there is tremendous interest from the financial community in our business. Because we are in the forefront of marketplace information and knowledge the financial analysts have put us in the spotlight".

As the recipient of a superb company training programme, Philip Barnard believes passionately in training a new generation of researchers. The major companies in the Group take on regular influxes of graduates and he comments that the large research companies have been'the universities of the industry'. As a founding member of the Advisory Board that guides the graduate research programme at the University of Texas in Arlington, he is delighted and honoured that the  University has established an endowed scholarship fund to create the Philip Barnard Scholarship for students pursuing a Master of Science in Marketing Research (MSMR) degree.
Philip Barnard has no immediate plans to restructure his business or personal life. His knowledge of market research, his business success and global experience, linked with the fact that he is one of the most well-liked people in the industry, means that he will undoubtedly be wooed. Meanwhile he relishes the time to stand and stare'.


4C                             My years at Research International Netherlands
                                  Memories of Michael Roe CEO 1979 - 1984 

My wife, 1 year-old son, the family cat and a British au pair girl (the 18 year-old daughter of our London neighbours) stepped off the Cityhopper plane at Zestienhoven in September 1979 to join me for my 5 year term as head of Socmar.

A year earlier, Eileen Cole, boss of EMRG, had asked me to go to Milan from London and take over at CER. I had refused because Teresa was about to deliver our son (and first child) and we thought this would put too much pressure on her. Eileen had not been happy – you could not refuse her twice and survive. So it was to the land of cheese rather than the land of pasta that we finally arrived.

My first impressions of Socmar? Well, 8 years previously I had gone to Athens to start the local RI agency from zero, having no staff at all originally. In Rotterdam I was both impressed and felt comfortable with the large, smoothly operating team, who had a long history. But I wondered initially if they fully believed in me. Eileen had virtually dismissed my predecessor Berry Rutten, who I was told had been unable to follow the flamboyant, superficial success of  Frans Tummers. The company was now in financial trouble and although things turned up quickly after my arrival, the 1980 general economic crisis knocked us right down again.

In terms of personnel things were also up-and-down at the start. The senior staff were a fascinating mix of the young and dynamic (e.g. Frank Vermonden, Willem v Noort) and conservative long-termers (e.g. Ernst Koster). I also had to get used to the idea of Research Control, the separate engine-room of research projects guided by Guus  Kors and Peter v.d Bijl (after the sad, unexplained death of Esther), a structure which we did not have in London. And then just as I was getting to grips with the Amsterdam qual office, its boss, the temperamental Anjo Schreuder announced her departure while I was away on holiday. But huge support - business and personal - in these early days came from (and was repeated for Jon Wilkinson later) Harry v Breemen and my secretary Magda Hoebe.

After about a year things settled down. Home life was excellent – my family loved our house on the lake in Hillegersberg and Teresa and I were getting on well with the dutch language (I could even read some of NRC Handelsblad). The climate couldn’t quite match Greece, but was
equally familiar as the UK. We ate a lot of cheese and even stampot occasionally. Loved filet americain or paling on our boterham but could not get used  to kroketten. However much milk I drank I could not grow fast enough to buy clothes in Holland – I was still much too short for shirtsleeves and trousers (had to go to Antwerp).

My own ‘big idea’ and primary focus was to start to sell our services professionally and Frank drove forward this active new business development to reduce our dependence on Unilever; Robert Petrescu replaced Anjo in his own unique way in Amsterdam; Ton Oosterhuis was our resident technical guru (and looked after the important but enigmatic Lever client Koen Thio; can’t remember who had the task of dealing with the tough v.d. Bergh & Jurgens margarine client named Lex Olivier!); Willem developed B2B and started pharma research; ‘cool hand’ Loet Magnin and Koos Blacquiere did big, solid, reliable client service business as always………and  Henk Benning provided me with the vital weekly fiattering info from which I built my management info system on one huge sheet of squared (graph) paper (which still hangs on the wall of my home office where I am writing this memoire).
As a result, and after fierce monthly negotiations with Harry, our profitability soared and was recognised by Head Office when we received the ‘Agency of the Year’ plate at the annual EMRG General Management Meeting.

None of this would have been possible without the solid field service of Aad Worseling and his team, plus IT from Leo v. d. Linden, supported by Gretha v.d. Pas. And then print from Andre (when we could get him out of ‘the Jungle bar’) and house services from Aart Blokland. If I have forgotten to mention others, my thanks to them also and please excuse me.

The research ‘scene’ I found in the early ‘80s in the Netherlands was most impressive. There were so many excellent agencies (e.g. NIPO, IPM, NSS) who were all highly professional and forward looking. When I arrived Socmar had a relationship with InterView on the ‘exciting, new’ data collection method of telephone interviewing which I broke, but at the regular meeting of agency heads the atmosphere was always amazingly friendly and cooperative. And at my leaving party I was so surprised that people like Anjo and her ex-RI team were there.

Technology was basic at Socmar. We had the card sorter for data analysis at the beginning, but soon moved to Prime computers and Quantum software, which Ton Oosterhuis was always trying to improve (as a ‘hobby’). International communications required the laborious teleprinter.

Visits from the Head Office team, now based in London, were always nerve-wracking. Eileen was joined by Peter Hayes and David Cooper in those days and our financials and plans were examined in forensic detail. But since we were still Unilever-owned, our profitability did not have a much wider impact. And the process was worse for Harry than for me, though I guess nothing like it became later under the eyes of the ‘bean-counters’ of WPP!

I liked our Vasteland offices. My own room was the largest I had ever had to myself…and have ever had since. And most remarkable – a box of cigars always on the table (who did I inherit that habit from?) The view of the trams (already gone from the London streets) and the river in the distance was always of interest. At lunch I would enjoy a pleasant walk by the riverside which was so busy with barges compared with the quiet Thames we had next to RIUK at Wapping.

After 3 years in a new country one starts to put down some roots, and even though we always knew we would be returning to RIUK, when the end came after nearly 5 years it was still a wrench for me and the family to leave. With Jon announced as my Socmar successor, I was able to introduce my Dutch colleagues to someone who was well known to me. I described him as being very similar to myself in many ways: nationality, age, education, research background, and the fact we lived only a few streets from each other in London. But when they met him the first time I was accused of seriously misleading them – where I was short, he was tall; where I was dark, he was fair; where I was loud, he was quiet; and so on. ‘Dig beneath the surface’ I said...and in time they came to see the similarities, especially that we both wanted the best for the company, and both appreciated the friendship of its staff and of the Dutch people. And we still do to this day (more so for me when “van Persie” scores for Arsenal).


4D                                   My years at Research International Netherlands
                                               Memories of Jon Wilkinson CEO 1984 -1988  
I was asked in early 1984 by Eileen Cole to succeed Mike Roe as CEO of Socmar, and formally took over in August.  I was a little uneasy, to be honest, to be the second foreigner in succession in the post – I feared that there might be some resentment.  But from the beginning, I felt nothing but warmth from all the staff, and they were very patient with my stumbling Dutch and my climbing the learning curve with the company, clients, and market. 
In fact I was very lucky, Socmar had an excellent team both on the client facing and Resources sides, and Harry van Breemen and Magda Hoebe were immensely helpful in sorting out the issues in the settling-in process for my family, and often in guiding me with the personalities in the company.  Harry was not only an excellent Finance man but took care of many other administrative issues.
There were also a lot of talented youngsters in the company, and I wonder sometimes where guys like John van der Kooij and Rob Kemna ended up.
Nevertheless, Socmar (like most of the RI companies of the time) was over-dependent on Unilever, and packaged goods companies in general.  The senior account directors, Loet Magnin, Koos Blacquiere, and Terry Haecker, were all consumer goods researchers, and in order to attack other markets we needed to bring in a specialist.  Erik de Kort was recruited and swiftly became a successful and valuable member of the team.  He was also the most ruthless in (rightly) insisting on speaking Dutch with me, and after about 9 months I felt pretty comfortable at least in the business context.  With Robert Petrescu running a high quality Qualitative operation, we could offer a full spectrum of services.
One vital legacy from Michael was that all the client staff were very focused on ‘new sales’, and Socmar was the only RI company to check these weekly. 
An important meeting for me was the weekly progress session with Aad Worseling, Leo van der Linden, and Peter van der Bijl, which really gave a sense of the workflow through the company and gave early warning of potential problems.  We rarely delivered late results.
These years saw the beginnings of the widespread use of technology, but it’s easy to forget the pace of change.  In 1985 I attended a meeting of European Unit Heads (as we were called) where someone suggested that all RI units should buy a fax machine.  What’s the point, someone else said, none of the clients have them.  A year later faxing was pretty universal, now it’s a virtually dead technology.
Never having worked for Eileen before, I was a little surprised that she hardly ever contacted me, maybe because the results showed a steady upward trend.  This hands-off style was inherited by her successor, Ian Hunt.
After a year or so we faced a special problem – the poor health of Ton Oosterhuis.  Ton was (and no doubt still is) a multi-talented man, and he was extremely highly regarded by clients.  He also played a major role in mentoring the younger researchers.  It was clear that we needed to recruit a new ‘guru’ and Loet suggested a friend of his from Tilburg University, Theo Verhallen.
I’ve recruited many good people during my career, but Theo was undoubtedly one of the very best.  A technically excellent researcher, his sunny and friendly personality made him a great hit both internally and with clients.  His presence meant that we could win large and complex projects from new clients.
In 1986 Unilever sold RI to Ogilvy, an event with more significance for Socmar than most other RI companies.  Unilever was one of the giants of Netherlands industry and many staff felt pride in working for it.  It was also a very paternalistic company with excellent pension schemes and benefits.  The Board was apprehensive about the transfer, and potential adverse staff reactions, but in the event through careful handling by my Dutch colleagues, there were few problems.
The following year we moved offices from Vasteland, which was getting very tired, to Coolsingel.
By this time I found I was speaking 100% Dutch and thinking in the language while at work. Even when I woke in the night worrying about some problem, I would find myself thinking in Dutch out of habit.  I managed some clients, notably Niemeyer, the tobacco company, which took me up to Groningen.  Until the time I left, however, I struggled to understand Aart Blokland!
In late 1987, I informed Ian Hunt that I should come back to the UK in 1988, and would need to find a successor, insisting that it should be a Dutch national.  We considered candidates from inside and outside the company, and found an outstanding man in Lex Olivier.
I think of all the jobs I did in RI, managing Socmar was the best.  It was a high quality company with excellent professionals at all levels, and for the most part a happy company.  I’ll never forget the support and kindness of all the staff, they made my time in the Netherlands so pleasant, and memorable. 

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