"The great man himself"
Albert Thys
Public DomainAlbert Thys

This would be Colonel Albert Thys, president of the Société Anonyme Belge pour le Commerce du Haut-Congo. Thys was actively involved in the organisation of the first expeditions which would lead to the constitution of the Congo Free State, and in its structural and economic development. As well as the Société Anonyme Belge, he ran the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Congo (the Congo Railway Company), the Compagnie du Katanga (the Katanga Company), and the Banque d’Outremer (the Overseas Bank).

Conrad had two interviews with Thys (in November 1889 and in February 1890) with a view to captaining one of the company's river steamboats.