At the moment, the only work which I am doing on my doctorate is sending the user questionnaire to companies who have agreed to participate in my research and entering data from completed questionnaires into my data collection program. I also supposed to be arranging face to face interviews with representatives of the companies, but this requires energy which I seem to be lacking at the moment (or it may be a lack of time).
For the past few months, I have been travelling to Karmiel once a week. I know that one of the participating companies is only a ten minute walk from our factory there, so I thought that I could pop in to say hello when I am in the north and have some spare time. I wrote to my contact there proposing this a few weeks ago, but received no reply. I wrote again on Tuesday (I travel on Wednesdays), saying the same thing, but again, no reply. As I had some spare time yesterday, I decided that I would visit, whether it was suitable or not.
On the way to this company (it took 11 minutes to walk there!), I wondered what could be the reason for the lack of response. I decided that either my contact has been on an extended holiday or that he no longer works there. When I got to the building, I asked the receptionist for my contact. "Who?", she asked. I repeated the name. "Never heard of him" was the reply. Fortunately, someone was walking past as I asked the receptionist; this person informed us that my contact no longer works for the company (so my guess was correct). I then asked for the IT manager; I was given his name but told that he works in a different building, a few minutes walk away.
I had difficulty finding this building, but met an employee of this company on the street (he was getting out of his company car, which is how I knew that he worked for this company); he kindly took me to this second building. When I finally got to meet the IT manager, he was sitting with one of his staff, so I didn't feel too confident about breaking in (if I were a real Israeli, then I would just barge in). After I stated my name and purpose, the IT manager said that he vaguely remembered something about Priority research. What was more interesting was that the man sitting with him asked whether I am the No'am who posts frequently on the Internet Priority Users Group forum; when I said that I am that No'am, this man says that my postings are very clever and useful. In other words, I was validated.
I didn't want to disturb the manager too much (after all, my stated purpose was just to pop in and say hello, which I had accomplished), so I took his business card, saying that I would write him a full letter, explaining the research and enclosing the questionnaire. I wrote this letter about an hour ago, and also asked whether I could make an appointment in order to have a fuller discussion and complete the 'company questionnaire'.
There is an engineering college near our offices in Tel Aviv where I want to do the same thing (pop in and say hello), but there it's more difficult as I haven't had any contact with them yet.