My Paperight journey began by sheer coincidence, if one believes in coincidence. I believe, that if I gained nothing else out of this experience, that everything is meant to be. It was on the 5th of March 2012 that I was browsing the internet, doing nothing in particular. There was nothing profound or special about that Monday night and so, as with most life changing moments it came unexpected.
I decided to browse around the Linkedin website. A few people that I knew had spoken about Linkedin on Facebook but, I never really paid it much attention. As I was browsing around I came across a job posting by a company called Paperight for a Customer Relations Manager position. I decided to take a look and see who this Paperight was and what they were all about.
I was so drawn to the company and its mission that I immediately started drafting a cover letter and sent off an application for the position. I hadn’t been looking for a job and yet I had stumbled across an opportunity that I couldn’t pass by. Arthur Attwell responded to my application within 40 minutes and invited me for my first interview on the Thursday, just four days later.
The cause of Paperight was something that I was passionate about from the moment I had read the job ad and only increased as I met the people involved and learned more about the business’ culture and aims.
My first interview was at 3pm at the original Paperight office based at Arthur’s house in Wynberg. Upon entering I met Nick Mulgrew who had started working at Paperight the previous Month. The atmosphere and Arthur’s personality made this the most relaxing interview I had ever had. I was not nervous, merely anxious and excited. Battling to control my emotions so as not to come across too eager. The cause of Paperight was something that I was passionate about from the moment I had read the job ad and only increased as I met the people involved and learned more about the business’ culture and aims.
I impressed Arthur enough to be called back for a second interview along with two other candidates who were shortlisted for the position. I was determined not to lose out on this job to anyone and began researching the bookselling industry. When I went for my second interview I went prepared, and boy was I glad that I did. Arthur had surprised all three of us who were shortlisted by interviewing us at the same time.
Arthur, Nick and Tarryn started the meeting by introducing themselves and what they do at Paperight. Then Arthur had to select which one of us candidates would start introducing ourselves. I must have looked very nervous that day because, Arthur asked me to start and Tarryn jokingly quipped, ”Sure just ask the guy that looks the most terrified to start why don’t you?!” In my mind I wasn’t so much nervous as I was embarrassed.
Embarrassed to whip out the proposal that I had drafted, printed and bound for my interview. I had a colour copy for Arthur, Nick and Tarryn which contained my research, charts and suggestions on how I would proceed should I be selected as Customer Relations Manager. Tarryn had mentioned in her introduction that she is very analytical which helped me relax but, the looks on the other candidates faces made me feel like they were thinking, ”Wow! This guy is sucking up big time” Which I was. Successfully so.
Not long after, Arthur notified the three of us that he would be employing all three of us as Customer Relations Managers on a five month contract. Although it was never explicitly stated, in my mind I believed that Arthur would be using the next few months to determine which one of us would have our contracts extended. Also, three people can cover a lot more ground than one person alone could, something which was needed in the early stages of Paperight.
I started my first day at Paperight on the 28th March 2012. The first two days we spent on training and getting to know each other. My new colleagues on the outlet team were Zimkita Makwetu and Zukisani Pakamisa. Zimkita had come from a customer service background, having spent many years in a Vodacom call centre. She left seeking opportunities to move forward and doing what she loved – social networking. Zukisani had years of experience as a salesman for various publishers and therefore, had experience in dealing with schools – one of our primary target markets.
My previous experience included sales, marketing, customer service and management in an entrepreneurial position. At Paperight I would be given the opportunity to grow each of these skills exponentially. Zukisani and Zimkita got along very well immediately, which resulted in me feeling slightly like an outsider. In response to this, and the general lack of clear direction, I tried to gently take the lead and bring our team together into a productive unit.