Jinnie’s Story – Book Six, Chapter Thirty-Two

A new IT Director times two

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

Jinnie said good morning to Ro and walked into her office and switched on her computer. Before she had finished reading the first of her company emails, Nigel entered the office, closed the door, and sat down. He was closely followed by Ro with two mugs of coffee which she put in front of the pair. Jinnie thanked her, looked at Nigel who nodded and she said to Ro, “Do me a favour, find Jed and tell him I want to see him in,” she glanced at her office clock and saw it was five past nine, “ten minutes time, at 9:15.” “OK, boss,” said Ro and walked out closing the door behind her.

Nigel pulled an envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Jinnie. Jinnie slit the envelope open quickly, read Nigel’s official resignation and said, “That’s perfect. I take it Camilla was happy. Now, I know your contract says three months’ notice, but I’m obviously not going to enforce it. I’ll tell HR. I talked with Alberto yesterday and he is delighted. At the moment, he suggests you use my office at the Potters Bar offices temporarily. But there is no room to set up a department there, so I think we need to start looking for something very soon. How many staff do you need initially?” “Well, I’ll need a personal assistant/deputy, a couple of analysts, an SAP or Oracle expert and a programmer so that’s five. That should be about right,” answered Nigel.

“What about a departmental secretary/administrator?” asked Jinnie. “Yes, they would be useful, but I don’t want to ask for too much,” said Nigel. “Right oh,” said Jinnie. “That office’s for six and space for another six for growth, close to the existing Potters Bar office. I better get busy. We have settled the wages and bonus but what about a car? You will have to return your DKL one.” “Can we talk about that later, I have a car of my own which I am happy to use if you pay mileage. If I find a home near work, I’m happy for it to stay that way. Otherwise, we will need to talk again,” said Nigel. “That’s OK with me,” said Jinnie. “Are you happy starting a week on Monday? Can you hand over to Jed in a week?” “Yes,” said Jed. “He could take over today if he had to, the only thing in the department that he doesn’t know is that I’ve resigned, only you know that.” Jinnie asked if Nigel wanted to stay while she spoke to Jed and he said, “Yes please, I want to see his face when you tell him.”

Jinnie saw Jed walk into his wife’s office and he obviously asked if she knew what the meeting was about, and she chuckled as Ro shrugged her shoulders. Jed tapped on the office door, and Jinnie beckoned him in and told him to take a seat. He sat down on the other visitor chair and tried to catch Nigel’s eye. Nigel managed to look the other way while drinking his coffee. Jinnie asked Jed if he would like a coffee, he said yes please and visibly relaxed. It was well known that if the boss offered you a coffee you weren’t in trouble. Ro brought in a mug of coffee and Jinnie said to her, “You better stay for this; Jed will only have to tell you on his way out so it’s better you hear this first hand.”

Jinnie continued, “I have just accepted Nigel’s resignation and he starts his new job a week on Monday. That leaves DKL looking for a new IT director and as one of his last actions Nigel has recommended that I appoint you, how do you feel about it, are you ready and willing to step up?” Jed looked a little shell-shocked, but quickly recovered and said, “I must admit, I didn’t expect this development. I would like to thank you for considering me and yes, I am ready and more than willing to do the job.”

“Excellent,” said Jinnie. “You realise that this promotion is, of course, subject to board confirmation, but as I control the board it is rather a formality. I think we better quickly mention terms and conditions. You will, of course, be remunerated at the same level as Nigel is currently receiving, which is a substantial increase on your current salary, I can’t remember exactly, but I think it’s around £65,000 pa more, I’m sure HR will give you that detail. Your company car moves up a grade, if you want to take on Nigel’s old one for a while, until we can organise to lease a new one for you, you can or you could hang on to your current C3 until your new car arrives, the choice is yours. I think Nigel currently has a C5 Hybrid and you would, of course, be entitled to similar. You will, of course, move into his office, and take over his secretary and we need to find you a number two. Do you have anyone internal in mind or do we need to advertise the position?”

Jed had recovered his composure and said, “I think I’ll stick with the C3 until the new car arrives, that way I don’t have to swap twice. As for a deputy, I have someone in mind from GCHQ, can I approach them on an informal basis to see if they are interested in applying for the job?” “Who do you have in mind, do I know them?” asked Nigel. “I think so,” replied Jed, “it’s Mick Shepherd.” “An excellent choice,” said Nigel. “He is bright, personable and knows IT and networking inside out.” Turning to Jinnie, he said, “He is an IT man and not a spook and was highly thought of as someone capable of going places when I was at GCHQ. However, he had the misfortune of being in a department where both the people above him were young and very capable. Yes, he might well appreciate a move into industry. Do you keep in touch with him, Jed?”

“I do,” said Jed. “Ro and I had a meal with him and his wife last time we visited my parents. He was getting itchy feet and asked me if I knew of any suitable positions. I believe he had been interviewed for a job with BAE Systems, but it meant moving to Glasgow and neither he nor his wife fancied that. What does his wife do for a living Ro?” “She is a directors secretary for an electricity utility in Barnwood, I think,” answered Ro. “I wonder if we could use her here?” pondered Jinnie. “Brian really needs his own secretary. I have noticed that sharing Ro with him has got more problematic as the company has grown. I know neither he nor you, Ro, have said anything, but I rely so much on now it’s unfair to both you and Brian that I monopolise your time. I was going to suggest it to Brian anyway, if she is any good it would kill two birds with one stone. Jed, I suggest you speak to Mick and if he bites, let’s interview them both. But whatever you do, make it sound like competitive interviews and not a one-horse race.”


Jinnie rather liked the Ennios Hotel she had chosen to stay in for the night before the meeting with P&O. It only had a dozen rooms and was really a classy Italian restaurant with rooms. And what rooms, large, modern, extremely comfortable and well appointed. Her room was at the front of the building, overlooking a busy road, the Red Funnel Ferry Terminal and in the distance she could see one of the cruise ship terminals and the National Oceanography Centre. The triple glazing did a perfect job and all she could hear in her room was the gentle hum of the air conditioning.

She and Brooke had met at Waterloo and travelled to Southampton together on the 16:00 train. Brian and Belinda were travelling on the next train, the 16:30, as Belinda had a meeting with a client and catching the earlier train was tight. The hotel was a short taxi ride from the station, and they were dropped outside the hotel. On checking in, the receptionist asked, “Will you be requiring a table in the restaurant tonight, Dame Jinnie? It is nearly full, but we always save some tables for residents.” “Yes, please,” replied Jinnie. “Can you put me down for a table of four? I will be eating with my colleague here and Mr and Mrs Quarendon who should be checking in shortly. Could we have the table for 7:45 please?” “Of course, Dame Jinnie,” replied the receptionist, “you will find a copy of the menu placed in your room so you may browse it at your leisure.”

Brooke knocked on Jinnie’s door and they headed down to dinner together discussing what they were going to eat. They were shown to their table in a crowded restaurant and found Brian and Belinda already there perusing the menu. “This is rather nice,” said Belinda. “I agree,” replied Jinnie. “I wonder if there is room for a Trattoria Trevi in town. I have an idea, tell me what you all think. We open a Trattoria Trevi with rooms and make a deal with P&O to sell pre and post-cruise packages. Off the top of my head, parking for the duration of the cruise, room for the night before the cruise, dinner, a full English breakfast and a limousine to the terminal. On return, the limousine returns them to their car, which has been valeted, and they have the option of a day or two in the hotel.” “I love it,” said Brooke, “but would it generate enough customers?” “Well, I don’t see it as the only source of trade. There are cruise ships out of Southampton most days, often more than one and as many as five. I think we sell the package independently but offer a discount through P&O as an incentive to take on our sandwiches.”

“Interesting idea,” said Brian, “it needs a lot of work on the costing, and we don’t even have a site in mind. But I love the concept, it really could work.” Belinda added, “You realise that P&O is part of the Carnival Group and that includes Cunard and Princess, if it works, we could extend the deal to the group, that would mean a lot more customers.” “True,” said Jinnie, “but I want to pitch it as a P&O exclusive to start with. I think I will only pitch the concept when I feel the time is right. Please don’t mention it until I do.” They all agreed that the meal was very good, bordering excellent. Jinnie commented that, “There was nothing wrong with the meal that Alberto couldn’t fix in a week.”

As they left the restaurant, Brian said, “What if we made an offer for this place for our Southampton branch? It’s ready-made.” “It’s not got enough rooms and there is no parking on site,” said Belinda. “Yes,” said Brian, “but the restaurant only occupies part of the building. I think we could buy more, if not all of it and how about we have people on hand to park the cars in a compound where we valet them, like they do at Las Vegas hotels you see on the TV.” “I think you might have something,” said Jinnie, “we could be up and running very quickly if we went down that road but with only a dozen rooms we would probably have to limit the offer initially, maybe to just the expensive suites on the ships. I want to pursue this idea even if P&O don’t want in.”


Jinnie was buzzing in the taxi from P&O back to the station. She was sharing the ride with Brooke who was grinning from ear to ear. They didn’t really have time to talk about the meeting in the short run to the station other than to agree that it went exceptionally well. The party found four seats together in the First-Class department and discussed the meeting. Jinnie had done the company presentation stressing that Artisan Sandwich was a fully owned subsidiary of the Trattoria Trevi Group and had its full financial backing. Brian had given a brief financial summary showing they were profitable in their own right and expanding fast under its own funding.

Brooke gave details of the sort of sandwiches and cakes they served and that their most popular sellers were prawn salad on crusty white bread and good old egg, mayonnaise and cress, but customers choose all different types of bread from malted to farmhouse. She told them that the homemade cakes were a more recent product, and the big Bakewell was the best seller. She added that their Windsor shop often supplied the Bakewell to the castle where she understood that it was a firm favourite of Princess Charlotte. Finally, Belinda showed some proposed designs for a sandwich counter, with the name Artisan Sandwiches prominently displayed.

The lead P&O negotiator asked, “Would you object if the signage said, ‘Artisan Sandwiches by Trattoria Trevi’,” and Jinnie said, “Not in the slightest,” and thought ‘We’ve got them.’ The discussion turned to how an outlet could work, and it was generally accepted that it would have to be a licence to use the name, menus and standards. Brooke wanted to have assurances about standards as P&O wanted to use their own staff to make and serve the sandwiches and cakes. Much to her delight they suggested inspection cruises. Then talks turned to license fees and Brian stepped into the discussion and after a few minutes he and the P&O financial man had struck an agreement they both seem happy with.

P&O said they wanted to try the concept on one ship, ‘Britannia’, as it was due a minor refit in two months between its winter, Caribbean, season and its summer, Mediterranean, season. If it worked, they would introduce it on other ships as they were refitted and on new ships as they were built. The license agreement was drafted to reflect the discussions and it was agreed to have the lawyers draw up the paperwork and the two teams shook hands on a deal.

The P&O team were just pulling their paperwork together and about to close the meeting when Jinnie introduced the hotel concept plan. She explained that the group planned to either acquire or construct a high-class restaurant with rooms in Southampton and the pre-sailing package for cruise passengers they were going to offer. The P&O team took some notes, and someone said, “That sounds attractive to the high-end cruiser but I don’t see where we fit in?”

Brian answered saying, “How about we give you the right to sell this as an add-on to your suite passengers? You get a percentage of every sale and we set a lower price if the package is bought through you rather than directly from us. The plan we have in mind would see us starting with only around 12 bedrooms, so you could offer it to the top suite customers and move down the pecking order as the packages are either taken up or passed on. If the scheme goes ahead, and we have every intention that we will launch it this summer or earlier, we intend to add another 50-odd rooms as soon as possible.”

“I’m interested,” said the lead negotiator, “but it’s a bit above my pay grade. I think I would have to boot this upstairs for a decision. Tell me how you would envisage us market such an offer.” “I assume you have a database of suites and cabins on each ship in descending value. Email the top twelve and say it’s a limited 15% off deal, open for seven days. We will show the 100% cost on our website. We give you a 25% discount, you make 10% per extra sold for sending an email and processing the result. If one passenger buys, you repeat the process with the next 11 on the list and so on.”

“That’s quite plausible,” came the reply. “I really think you have something, and I will talk to our president as soon as I can get an appointment with him. I promise I will come back to you Dame Jinnie, I have your business card now, so I have your phone number and email. I promise I will be in touch.”

The group spent the journey back to London discussing the meeting and came to the conclusion that things had gone better than they could have expected. Jinnie said she would have to run the idea past the board. Brian said he had a small worry that they may have to borrow to make the deal work as they had committed most of their spare cash to other projects. Jinnie thought for a moment and said, “If I could put in a director’s loan to tide us over, how much would you need and for how long?” Brian immediately replied, “You realise a bank loan would be no problem, in fact they are falling over themselves to lend us money.” “But I think in a short while, I will be in a position to make the company an interest-free loan of millions.” “Wow,” said Brook.


The interview with Mick Shepard went extremely well. At the conclusion of the interview in the boardroom, Jinnie asked Mick if he would mind waiting in a small meeting room that had been put aside as a waiting room, and his wife, who was being interviewed by Brian, would join him shortly. The interview panel, that consisted of Jinnie, Jed and Angela, the HR Director, had a very quick discussion and agreed to offer him the job. Jed knew the GCHQ wage scale and it was agreed that they would offer him the same level of wage as Jed had been earning as a deputy to Nigel and a company car.

Just as they finished their discussion, Brain stuck his head around the door and said he wanted to hire Alice. She was extremely impressive, and he got on with her at a personal level. Jinnie said OK, let’s do it then and Brian went back to his interview room to hire Alice while they called Mick back into the boardroom. He accepted the job immediately, saying he had just spoken to his wife, and they had agreed that if he was offered the job he would accept it even if Alice wasn’t successful. Mick said she thought she could easily find a job in the buoyant jobs market in the area. Jinnie grinned and told him that wouldn’t be necessary as Brian was currently offering her the position.


Nigel moved into Jinnie’s office and spent his first day phoning around the local technical recruitment agencies who emailed him over several candidates. Like Jinnie, he didn’t much like using agencies as they were generally rather costly, so he used the phone number for the Potters Bar Press group and spoke with the advertising department. After a short chat, he roughed out a hand written advert saying a successful, fast-growing local company was bringing IT support in-house and consequently were looking for an assistant IT director, an SAP specialist, two analysts and a C++ software developer/programmer to form the backbone of a new department to be set up in Potters Bar. In addition, a personal assistant/secretary to the IT director was also required. Wages for all positions would be competitive and there was a pension scheme and profit sharing. The contact details were Nigel’s mobile phone number.

The Press Group promised to turn Nigel’s rough design into a display advertisement by early afternoon and get a proof over to him for approval. It would be in tomorrow’s group papers and on the group’s website as soon as the advert was agreed and paid for. While waiting to get the adverts proof back, Nigel rang Jinnie and asked if she had got anywhere with offices. She said there were a couple of possibilities, but there was a fairly new office block further down the High Street that looked ideal. Maple House was modern, floor to ceiling windows, parking, on several bus routes, within minutes walk of Trattoria Trevi and the Dark Kitchens, about fifteen minutes walk from the station or four minutes on the bus, next to a Tesco Extra and it had raised floors for ease of installing computer networking. “What’s the rent like?” asked Nigel. “Not bad,” replied Jinnie. “Less than Brian has budgeted. If I come over now, the letting agent will show us spaces. He has several offices on more than one floor. Belinda is around locally following up a lead I gave her on a firm of solicitors, so I’ll try and get her to join us. I’ll see you in your office in twenty minutes.”

First, Jinnie rang the letting agent and agreed a viewing in 45 minutes time, then she rang Belinda. Belinda was driving, and said, “Hi Jinnie, I was just about to ring you and update you on my meeting with Mr Mann.” “I’d love to know how you got on, but I have something I’d like you to do first. I’d like you to have a look at some offices we’re thinking about renting for Nigel and his new IT team. Nigel and I have a viewing in 40 minutes, and we wondered if you could join us?” “Where are these offices?” asked Belinda. “Potters Bar High Street, on the corner of Mutton Lane right by the new Tesco Extra,” replied Jinnie. Belinda burst out laughing, “I was driving past there when you rang. I can turn round and be there in a couple of minutes.” “Great,” said Jinnie, “why don’t you head round to the DKL kitchen? Nigel is using my office there and is waiting for me. Why don’t you ask him for a coffee, he’s sharing Alberto’s machine, so it will be a decent cup.”

The agent showed them several vacant offices, none of which were quite what they were looking for. The only one that came close was on Floor 18 and had wonderful views but Nigel really wanted something on a lower floor, he hated the thought of the lift being out of order or lugging stuff up 18 flights of stairs. Suddenly the agent said, “I have an idea. How about we put two or three offices together.” Belinda asked, “Will the landlord let us make the necessary alterations.” “Almost certainly,” answered the agent. “They let the whole 8th floor to one client, and it had been a number of offices before it was combined. I think we could do something similar on Floor 3, it’s nearly empty and the last client has just given notice.”

There were three five-person offices available together on Floor 3 and Jinnie said, “This is much better, this is a tad bigger than we are looking for, but I have an idea. What if we take the whole floor and move Alberto and my office, the accounts, purchasing and boardroom over here and return the old offices to DKL? With my other hat on, I know they want to enlarge the order takers and the staff room and there is no available space.”

Belinda was busy measuring up and said, “How about a run of directors’ office over there?” she pointed to one wall, “A boardroom over there in the corner, we can open up for open space offices like Manor Royal. We’ll need a staff room and at least one more meeting room, there is plenty of space for a server room. The building has a common reception area, and the toilets are all in the building core and not our worry. I would like to model this on the computer and do some preliminary costings, but this could work as corporate offices, not just the IT department.”

Jinnie asked the agent, “Do we get a deal if we take the whole floor?” “I don’t know,” he replied. Nigel asked, “Did the company who took Floor 8?” The agent said, “I wasn’t here then; it was over a year ago when the building opened. But I think they might have.” “Right,” said Jinnie, “come back with an offer, remember we would want a long lease and we have other places in the area to look at, I particularly like the idea of Cockfosters or maybe Brookmans Park.”

As they walked back to the Trattoria Trevi offices Nigel asked, “What about these offices in Cockfosters, should we drive over and have a look?” Belinda laughed and replied, “There is nothing to look at. Your boss was playing the agent.” Jinnie added, “She’s right Nigel, I have watched Belinda do it so many times, I thought I would give it a try. That agent now thinks he has competition and will tell the landlord he has a client for a long lease of the whole of the third floor if he is willing to drop the rent a bit and give a license to alter. If we sit tight, he’ll phone me with a good offer.” Nigel just shook his head and said, “Well, you had me fooled.”

In Chapter 33 – New Offices

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