The Two Princes

Attending public events had its’ pluses and minuses. On the one hand they presented an opportunity to convey how well he was doing – the money, the power, the adulation, and the glory.

In a 3rd world country such as the Republic of Granaria, where money rules, it’s fairly easy to dazzle the public.

Granaria’s citizens – both rich and poor – are easily impressed with displays of power and wealth.

On the other hand there were times when Ethan would rather be doing something else – especially on weekends.

Still, no point dwelling on things.

Another moment of public adulation had presented itself.

He may as well enjoy it.

“Has the event actually begun?” he asked his assistant as they approached the venue.

“Yes sir, it started a few minutes ago.”

“Good stuff.”

His assistant smiled.

She knew what he meant by those words.

Although he had never spelt it out she knew the man she worked for well enough to understand that he enjoyed grand entries – arriving late – for all to see – being announced on his arrival as he takes his seat.

Not that she feels the same.

But she understands why her boss enjoys it.

He had risen from humble beginnings; risen to the very top – now the Group Managing Director of the nation’s second largest bank – Soveriegn Bank.

The press had been informed of his imminent arrival and had positioned themselves at the main entrance of the Exhibition Centre.

As his motorcade arrives, escorts and all, a mini stampede begins as press photographers jostle for the best position – the best angle – the best picture.

He alights from his car to proceed towards the main hall, enjoying another red carpet moment – the ‘sirs’, the courtsies, the bows, the pictures.

Not that he allows himself to be seen to enjoy it.

Not at all.

As usual he assumes an air of indifference.

“Hey look, that’s Ethan Mogambi, Group Managing Director of Soveriegn Bank,” says one of the guests in the hall, as Ethan makes his grand entrance.

“Wow! All the big boys and girls really are here today,” replies his friend.

“Is Gibson here?”

“Who?”

“Gibson Clarke, Group Managing Director of ALL Africa Bank.”

“Oh, ok…yea I think he’s here somehwere. But what’s the big deal about Clarke? He’s not one of the big boys, and certainly isn’t interesting.”

“Are you being serious???? All Africa Bank is the country’s largest bank! Besides the president himself Clarke is probably the most powerful man in the Republic.

His bank has five times as many customers as any other bank in the whole of West Africa.”

“Why do people like his bank so much?”

“You don’t have an account with All Africa Bank????”

“Nope. Why should I?”

“Mate, you haven’t lived. All Africa has the best customer service you can possibly imagine. Being attended to by them is as though one is being served caviar in a five star hotel.

The attention to detail, the display of love and care, the courtesy, the constant smiling. They never behave as though they are doing you a favour.

No airs and graces.

Just a complete focus on meeting your needs.

It’s like they understand us – like they know exactly what we want – what we need – getting things done as quickly and as smoothly as possible, and being treated well whilst doing it.”

“Sounds like I should open an account with them.”

“I can’t believe you don’t have an All Africa account. Who do you bank with?”

“Oh, me?! Soveriegn Bank ofcourse,” he replied with great pride – pride in the fact that he banked with Ethan Mogambi’s bank.”

“What’s their service like?”

“The service is really….em….it’s really….come to think of it the service is quite awful.”

“How do you mean?”

“The queues in the banking hall are slow and often chaotic, and the staff are seriously arrogant. In-fact they actually DO behave as though they’re doing you a favour.

They hardly even look at you when talking to you, let alone pay any kind of attention to detail. To be honest, now I think about it, they are blatantly arrogant.”

“Wow! That doesn’t sound too good. So why do you stay with them?”

“I…I really don’t know. Never thought about it until now. I …I ….think I basically fell for all the hype – the razmataz – Ethan Mogambi and all.

You know what?!! I’ve just realised that the attitude of Soveriegn’s staff may actually stem from being trapped inside their own hype.
 
Their service is so poor. They just don’t seem to care about us. It’s like we’re lucky to have an account with them or something!”

On the far side of the hall is a table of men and women in blue and yellow T shirts. They are in deep discussion as they assess something on an Ipad.

“Nope, can’t say I fully like this Charles.”

“Why’s that Gibson?”

“The car park is too small, and way too far away from the banking hall. We can’t have our customers being inconvenienced in such a way. We’ve got to do everything we can to ensure that we make life easy for our customers. They are what matters most.”

Gibson surveys the faces around the table, looking for signs of their understanding of the point he has just made.

The expressions on his colleagues’ faces do not convince him.

They haven’t got it.

He proceeds to emphasise his point.

“Six years ago, just a few weeks before I was formally asked to join All Africa Bank, I went to the head office of MVB (the cable tv provider).

Not out of curiousity, and certainly not by choice, but out of necessity. I needed to renew my subscription.  There was nobody else at home so I had to go and do it myself.

I was horrified by the state of their customer service centre.

The payment centre was dark, smelly, and to make matters worse totally chaotic.

I remember feeling disgusted.

Disgusted that this foreign firm that had been given free reign to monopolise our country’s television satellite provision, was displaying such blatant contempt for its’ customers – the nation’s citizens – you and I.

The state of that place conveyed scant respect or care for any of us.

I decided there and then that my number one focus during my tenure as Group Managing Director of All Africa Bank will be the customer – making life convenient for our customers.”

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, before proceeding any further with this evening’s proceedings, we want to recognise the presence of two princes of the world’s financial markets – Ethan Mogambi, Group Managing Director of Soveriegn Bank, and Gibson Clarke – Group Managing Director of All Africa Bank.”

The audiance cheers – Ethan revels in the attention – Gibson appreciates.

The evening’s proceedings move along swiftly.

The event ends early enough for Gibson to ask his team to take a quick trip to the bank’s new site – the new head quarters.

He still isn’t satisfied that they fully appreciate his concern about the size of the customer car park, and its’ distance from the banking hall.

As they exit through the long corridor, along with the rest of the guests, they pass a big screen showing a CNN interview with Gibson Clarke.

Charles stops to watch for a few seconds.

“I have one more question for you Mr. Clarke.”

“Just one???” laughs Gibson Clarke.

The interviewer laughs along with him, before asking,

“What drives you?”

“Hmmm…you know, every single one of us – human beings – has an inate desire for power and adulation. Nobody can claim not to have this desire embedded in them somewhere.

But the biggest gift, and indeed the greatest power of all is one’s ability to serve others – one’s ability to make life better for those around him.

That’s what drives me.

Making life better for others.”

Charles nods his head in agreement, smiles, and continues walking.

He now appreciates his boss’s concern about the size and location of the bank’s customer car park.

©Segun Akande

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