Wednesday, May 25, 2005

This is the Part Where I Introduce Victor Relay

If there is a single reason why I still work at Relay Corp., it's Victor Relay. Victor offered me my first job, a summer internship, while I was still in college in the mid 90's. I accepted. I didn't have a job description, but I was handy with computers and Relay was starting to move into the digital age, so I made myself useful and carved out a niche. When I met Antonia that same summer and got a full-time offer that fall, I stayed.

Victor taught me about business, about dealing with people and about life. He wasn't just a boss, he was a mentor. As Relay Corp. grew (I'm employee #7) to over 50 employees, including a London branch, Victor had less time to spend with me, but the time that he did was just as important. When my salary came up for review last year I negotiated directly with Victor. My direct boss at the time, Rutherford, was present only as a token to his position.

Victor was a great motivator and leader. As great bosses do, he made work more than just work. Work became a place to better my skills and myself. Since I loved the work anyway, I thrived. I designed and developed an ERP system that ran the company. When I decided to finish my Computer Science degree, Relay Corp. offered to pay my tuition. (I didn't accept, but that was for other reasons.) When Victor stopped by, it was to check on how I was doing, or if I needed better tools. (I always needed better tools.) If I had just returned from a vacation, he was genuinely interested in how my trip had been.

I'm not alone in my adulation. Many people at Relay would say the same thing. So would people at Victor's church and in his personal life. Victor's unique quality is that he makes people feel important. No matter what he's doing, he always has time to talk. And when he talks, he looks you in the eye, smiles and makes you feel like the most important person in the building. Former President Bill Clinton was reported to have such a quality. I've met only two or three other people like that in my lifetime.

With his good looks, pleasant charm and mellifluous voice Victor could've made a run at anything and been successful. But he chose to grow Relay Corp. and grow the people that worked there.

Perhaps one day I'll own my own business. If that happens, it will be to a large degree because of the influence that Victor has had on my life. I will focus on my people, believe in my company and make others believe in my company, and lead by example like Victor.

Here's to you, Victor. I hope I grow up to be like you one day.

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