There’s a lot of talk about what makes for a great company culture and how important culture is to a company’s success. In thinking about ExecuNet’s culture, I realize, as many of the experts we bring to the network say, company success is driven by mission and culture, and culture is made up of people, who have commitment to that mission.
I got to thinking about this recently because of the retirement of one of our long-time employees, Kathy Miller, who is retiring this month after being with us for 25 years.
Kathy was the first person hired by Dave Opton, ExecuNet’s founder, and is the only person other than Dave who’s been here longer than I have. While she wasn’t in upper management making strategy decisions, she was certainly as important as anyone on the management team ever was. Making strategy is great, but so is making that strategy actually happen. Kathy did that for us – and more.
She embodied our culture and helped build it; leading the way, others recognized and followed. Hard work, reliability, empathy, responsiveness, always seeing the good in people, friendliness, willingness to change and take on what’s next… especially in the tough times, and going beyond what was expected – that was Kathy. She bled ExecuNet blue and gold.
When I think of our culture and Kathy, I find them inseparable. This company would not be the success it is today without Kathy Miller.
Literally from day one she made a huge contribution here. Less than 48 hours after she was hired in April 1991, we were featured in Fortune. This recognition meant over 1,000 phone calls came in over the next week. All needed to be handled and followed up (no Internet back then). There was no time to train or explain, there were potential customers to be served, and Kathy just jumped in. No one would have blamed her if she had decided to leave the madness. She has been jumping in ever since. She attended to our members and her co-workers like they were members of her family.
There are so many examples of her dedication; an easy one to identify is the 10 years Kathy co-hosted our evening networking meetings in both Stamford and NYC. She often got home after 11:30pm and was at her desk at 8:00am the next day, never missing a beat.
Kathy always adapted to what needed to be done and was in more departments over her career than anyone else in the company. Whatever was needed, Kathy would be the first person called. “Kathy could do that” has been said many, many times around here. Because of the number of things she did, she is part of the corporate memory… both of people and the way things work.
On the lighter side of our corporate culture, she was the one who reminded others of birthdays and anniversaries – decorating desks and commenting at staff meetings. She started our tradition of people bringing in treats on their birthdays, and she was instrumental in planning all of our company parties. Her costumes at Halloween, another company tradition she helped start, were classic and creative and were the obvious choice for inclusion in this newsletter.
When Kathy’s husband retired, they moved to New Hampshire. Kathy easily could have left us, but instead she wanted to find a way to work and stay connected with the team in Norwalk, CT. We were fortunate enough to have her services for five more years. She still delivered top value from 500 miles away, like she was next door.
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank Kathy for her unceasing service to our members and ExecuNet. I am personally sorry to see Kathy go, but know she won’t be forgotten because the culture she helped build is still here and is a huge reason why we are successful. She did more than just work here… she left a piece of herself with us, and we are the better for it.
The hallmark of ExecuNet has always been making sure our members understand that they are in fact members, not names in a database. No one has better represented our mission to “make executives’ lives better” than Kathy Miller.
Thank you, Kathy.
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