Monday, 4 April 2011

Spies Like Us

I have written before about my career-spanning dilemma about how to explain what I do for a living.  Do I answer in one sentence, tell people ‘I’m in market research’ and run the risk of being viewed as a slightly geeky type, obsessed by clip-boards?  Or do I try and take up more of their time and outline a typical week in which I might be interviewing an artist in New York one day and delivering a boardroom debrief at a supermarket client’s head office the next?
A current project, however, is about to change all of this because I now have a brand new answer at my disposal.  Next time someone asks what I do, I’m going to look them in the eye and say, ‘I’m a spy’.
Then it’ll be their choice won’t it.  They can go for the longer explanation of my job in which I’ll say I do some undercover work testing whether members of staff are implementing a new training scheme which is being rolled out by a new client.  I can back this up saying I’m in possession of a new ‘spy camera’ which I can hide about my person and later produce DVD recordings of the staff encounters I have had.  
Or they can stick with the one word answer of ‘spy’ and conjure up their own image of me sipping shaken not stirred cocktails, whilst parachuting down to a snow-capped mountain, at the bottom of which awaits my latest flame in the passenger seat of my personalised number-plated Aston Martin DB7.
Not a bad choice, I believe, because either way I think I’m going to be a winner.
In the longer answer I get a chance to explain why I’ve been doing this job for so many years and why I still find it a most interesting and rewarding profession.
And in the shorter answer I’m no longer geeky clipboard boy who hangs around on street corners.
But Hawker, Barrie Hawker, double o seven and three-quarters, licensed to thrill…
Another option lurks too of course; I can point them in the direction of our new website at