In only a few years, CN&CO has grown immensely and I couldn’t be more proud to work here and continue to push myself to always do better and add more value. To see how far we have come I thought it a good idea to look at the evolution of our company and team depicted in the beautiful artwork of caricatures.

Many of you have been to our offices for confabs or to share our space for work and fun where you would have seen our caricatures. Our partner Gabbi Rego, who works on various projects, predominantly at Club Med where we handle this amazing brand’s PR, had the first caricature made – and we have since continued the tradition.

2015:

From left to right: Rob Rikus, Gabbi, Carel, Josie, Gianluca, Colin and Penny. Flying: Kurt

Starting off with a group of nine incredible people with mad skills and talent, (some of whom had worked together since 2000 at Hollard Insurance) the idea behind CN&CO was to be more than just an agency – no complicated graphs and charts and theories and models and matrices (as Rob, our designated CFO reminds us often) – but rather, a business that is focused on the power of people. Our approach is supported by the notion, 2 + 2 = (at least) 22.

“We believe in the importance and the power of those around us”, says chief señor, Carel Nolte. “It is important to us that we work with people who share our values and that we add real value.”

As such, we have seen clients come and go – as it has made sense. Despite finding this, personally, quite challenging, the energy and desire to remain focused on adding value and not ‘just’ keeping a client, is inspirational.

We have enjoyed having our office space in the vibey Illovo Junction, but being the lifestyle business that we are, we have the flexibility to work from wherever. We focus on outputs, not clock watching or controlling a space our team functions in. Plus, we love spending time with our partners in their spaces – being close to their business and forming relationships.

We kicked off with exceptional clients in the financial services, specifically insurance and investments (such as ITOO, Lombard Partnerships, Innosys, Fulcrum and EasyEquities) but we have have also enjoyed working with clients in other industries. Carel recalls his meeting with furniture manufacturers and our early links with clothing brands and restaurants.

2016:

From left to right: Neo, Emiliana, Rob, Rikus, Allan, Carel, Josie, Gianluca, Colin, Penny and Blake. Flying: Kurt

Our first year of business was not without challenges (entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted!) It was every bit the rollercoaster ride that other startups describe, but one of the most exhilarating and worthwhile experiences we’ve ever had! That’s why Kurt still flew on our caricature with a beer in hand!

Announced in February 2016, CN&CO was chuffed to receive the 2015 SA Blog Award for Best Business Blog in SA – not a bad start considering we were only in our first year. Each individual in the team played a unique role in contributing to the success of our blogs, each bringing different backgrounds, experiences and fresh perspectives of the world.

CN&CO is also passionate about nurturing tomorrow’s super-achievers by coaching and mentoring through an internship programme. We welcomed our first-ever interns, Neo Matsei (me!) and Ivana Andric and later on in the year we were joined by Emiliana Adriano. As interns we added an extra dimension to the team and helped focus on learning and teaching as part of the day-to-day activities.

Working within a smaller workforce has provided me a comfort that I imagine is wholly absent in larger organisations. There is more opportunity to showcase your abilities and faster career advancement is very likely too. The experience has been great!

Shortly after, our trail runner and nature lover, Blake also joined CN&CO in a full-time capacity in October 2016, based in our Cape Town.

We also welcomed Carel’s running mate, Allan Bader. After working in the insurance industry for 13 years, Allan has had a lot to learn. From learning to read more  to loosening his tie.

By then we had all settled into our team structure, allowing us to continue doing great work for amazing brands. Having grown, we’ve also had to extend our office space, so that we all had free of movement. Look inside Casa CN&CO.

2017

From left to right: Rob, Carel, Lorraine, Emiliana, Kurt, Allan, Rikus, Josie, Gianluca, Penny, Colin, Neo and Blake

As we moved up the value chain, we are proud that CN&CO’s growth has also undeniably contributed to the country’s economy and employment opportunities.

By the year 2017, we had discovered our three ships – relationships, partnerships & friendships. Our company had diversified – within and in the clients that we work with – and we had built a long term business relationship with our valued partners.Emi, Lorraine and myself graduated as interns and we’re now fully fledged members of the team. Josie gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Grace, Carel and Penny’s dogs joined our caricature and Rikus changed his hair colour.

2018:

In the new caricature we welcome, Lethabo-Thabo and Baby Dougall II, Frances (a.k.a. Frankie).

We were delighted to welcome Lethabo-Thabo Royds, to the CN&CO family on 1 May. Lethabo-Thabo as her name indicated has brought great joy into the team.

I am very excited that someone of Lethabo-Thabo’s experience, values, passion and skill set is joining CN&CO and have no doubt she will complement us and enable even more delivery to our partners,” says Carel. “CN&CO continues to grow in diversity, which is vital to our role as a South African company.”

We are currently working on a number of projects in our diverse stream of partners. We fully embrace the progress that has been made thus far. We are aware that getting it right is impossible, thus we keep a high dose of perspective.

“Though our team has grown by a few, we plan to stay small. We have no desire to build an empire, but rather a desire to work with people and companies we like and whose beliefs we share,” says Carel.

Come and visit our office and meet our team. We will have plenty of snacks and wine to sip on – at least our office aficionado Rikus will make sure of it! And I look forward to seeing many of you at the FIA Awards on 28 June 2018. As you know, I am the Insurance Apprentice’s No.1 Fan and I hear the 2018 Apprentice winner, Nox will be playing a role in proceedings!

If you want to learn more about caricatures, try this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caricature. Ours are done by Stephanie Smith at enquiries@stephssketches.co.uk.

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