The GSK archivist recommended I find interviewees via GSK’s Retired Staff Association, and it was she who initially reached out to one of its leading members about the project. This member, who I later went on to interview, used to work in HR and therefore knew many of the members of the RSA. She very kindly put together a list of people she believed would be happy to be interviewed and gave me their contact numbers.
Once I was in a position to be able to interview them I called to set up a convenient time to meet at their respective homes, explaining the process in a simple way and emphasising that it was their personal stories I wanted to hear. Once I had reached the women on the phone they were mostly very happy to be interviewed, and setting up a time to be interviewed was also not a problem.
On reflection, I wonder whether it would have been better for me to hand-pick prospective interviewees based on my personal criteria instead of having them chosen for me, which gave me little say in who to actually interview. For instance I could have selected interviewees based on their experiences, background, which part of the business they worked in, and how long they were there. This method may have given me a more varied or at least a more carefully considered sample. By approaching interviewees through the RSA I was limiting myself to interviewees who probably shared a similar background and who were all connected by their RSA membership. Then again, it was the GSK archivist who encouraged me to go through the RSA, perhaps because she wanted me to collect stories from women who were loyal to the company and felt that this approach was more likely to achieve that. This was not something we discussed and I did not get the chance to suggest an alternative approach to gathering interviewees. Additionally, finding prospective interviewees based on old company records and tracking these people down would likely have been a very complex and time consuming process which in reality would have been unrealistic in the time available.