Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 10.3

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter ten, part three

Seriously. Do you blame me for coming down hard on Parker? The man extorted half a million out of me, wheedled his way into my firm and onto the Board. And he would have got away with all that if he hadn’t tried to elbow me out of the firm. Whatever he had, whatever I had given him, would never have been enough. He’d always want more, or rather his blasted wife would have wanted more. Well, now he has nothing. No job, no future, and only whatever is left of the cash he took from me. What he took from my firm is now repaid. The trouble was, I now needed a new head of logistics. However, I was determined that before one is appointed, all the empire-building reassignments; company cars, executive travel etc; would go back to HR, where they belonged. And the next holder of the post would report to Henk, as Logistics is an operational department.

Now that I had the Board’s confidence again, I decided to test the waters with regard to Lindy and Tanja. They had proven themselves in their roles, and I really did want Max and Henk to spend more time in Head Office, and to join me in developing the group, both organically, and by acquisitions. I brought it up at the first Board meeting after the Stephen Parker débacle.

“It is my wish,” I told my fellow directors, “to grow the Knight Global Trading group’s turnover by one hundred per cent in the next five years.”

I dimmed the lights and started the presentation on my laptop, which was already connected to the projector.

“This first chart shows the distribution of turnover by region and by function within region. You will see that the fastest growth has been in Africa, this being driven mostly by the development of Max’s investment arm. Middle East and Asia is growing at a good rate, too, mainly due to the addition of the divisional office in Cochin, in India. There’s a lot of promise in that market, and I’m sure Danny can use it to more than double his revenue in two to three years.

“I plan to form a working group, consisting of Max, Henk and myself. Our main job will be to deliver my vision for growth.”

“Aren’t they already pretty tied up with their regions?” Emily asked.

“That’s what I’m coming to next. I have been watching the newly appointed divisional managers in Europe and Africa, and it’s my view that these youngsters are ready for more responsibility.”

“Not RD already, surely?”

“Not yet, Emily. I have in mind to offer them Regional Manager status, still responsible to their RDs, but with greater geographic cover than at present. I don’t envisage Henk or Max relinquishing any of their directorships or control, but I do anticipate that they will delegate increasing and significant amounts of their day-to-day responsibilities to their new Regional Managers.”

Max spoke up. “I can’t speak for Henk, of course. For myself, though, much as I am sure that Lindy is ready for the most part, I wouldn’t expect to be handing over the reins of the investment arm just yet.”

“Nor would I expect you to, Max. I know how close you are to that, and how much it represents your personal vision. I do foresee you, though, leaving the running of it to Lindy, and involving him, with yourself, in the selection of beneficiaries and the disbursement of funds.”

“I’m fine with that.”

“Henk?”

“No; I’m fine with it, Hannice. Tanja is ready, and not only do I welcome the opportunity to be more proactive here, but I also look forward with relish to joining you and Max on the new working party you mentioned.”

“Fine. Anyone else?”

Hannice surveyed a sea of shaking heads.

“Do you need a vote, Owen?”

Owen Nicholls, Company Secretary, said, “I think the mood of the meeting is clear enough. You’ll report back regularly on progress?”

“Of course.”

“Then I declare your motion to form a Growth and Development working party, and to promote Lindisfarne Aldredge and Tanja Voorwinde to Regional Manager carried unanimously and adopted. So minuted.”

“Thank you, Owen.”

Once the meeting was over, I went back home and brought Sophie and David up to speed.

“Sophie,” I said, “How would you feel about joining me on the working party?”

“Why would you want me on it?”

“Well; you share my financial interest in the firm for one, you have an understanding of the business that’s up there with the rest of the team, and your steadiness will support Max in calming Henk’s and my impulsiveness.”

“You sure it’s not just because I’m a woman, and it would be politically advantageous to have equal numbers of men and women on the team?”

“If it were that, I’d have asked Emily or Alexandra.”

“Okay, I’ll believe you.”

David spoke up. “Can I say something?”

“Sure,” I said, “go ahead.”

“I finish school next year, and I’ve been thinking about what to do with my life. Well, you know that, ‘cause I’ve been talking to you both about it.”

“Go on.”

“At the moment, I think I’d like to join you in the business if you’ll have me.”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit early for that, David,” Sophie asked.

“No, I don’t. And I’ll tell you why. When I finish school, if I have the grades and results, I want to go to uni and study business.”

“And,” I said.

“And for my gap year, I’d like to spend some time with the firm; maybe overseas. Now, before you say anything, I do not want to get in the situation you did, working remotely for twenty years. I want to get some experience in my gap year—”

“And earn some money…”

“Of course; then, while I’m at uni, I’d like to spend some of my holidays in the regions, before looking for a post in Head Office after I graduate.”

“I wish your grandfather had given me choices like that. I don’t know what your mother thinks, but I’ll support you all the way with plans like those.”

“Thanks, Dad. Mum?”

“You know what I’m going to say, so well that there’s no point in saying it.”

“Thanks, Mum.”

“That’s all very well, Son,” I said, “but what has this to do with the working party?”

“I was kind of hoping I could sit in on some of the meetings and stuff. Not taking part, just as an observer.”

“I’ll agree to that on one condition…”

“Name it.”

“Okay, I’ll call it George.”

“Ha ha ha. What is the condition?”

“That you give an honest opinion, if – no, not if, when asked.”

“Deal.”

We shook hands.

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