You probably won’t remember me, but I hope you’ll remember the helicopter ride we did a couple of years ago? I think it was around your 3rd birthday when we all went for a spin around the Thames Valley – with you dressed up in your amazing Spiderman’s outfit!! The weather wasn’t great, so we couldn’t go over London that day, but more on that later…
Your dad was a very special person; one who hadn’t let himself be drawn in by the less attractive side of modern business. He and I first met a few years ago when I was to be introduced by his peers as their new man at Guidewire Inc., a job that involved looking after its Business Partners. The meeting was to be held in Guidewire’s board room and of course, everyone was expected be ‘suited and booted’ and keen to show off the latest corporate PowerPoint. It was a surprise during the evening before therefore, to get a text from your dad (whom I had never even spoken to at this point and who amusingly introduced himself as my new “Superior Senior Executive Vice President, Inter-Galactic Global Alliances and Partner Business Development Director” – imagine how wide his business card would be!!). He suggested meeting in a pub around the corner for a cheeky one instead and from the second I read that text, I knew we were going to get on like a house on fire!
Your dad worked in an industry that is full of egos, ‘empty suits’ (ask your mum), prima donnas (ask your mum again – sorry, Simone) and politics; it was plain that he, like me, despised all these things. Our first, one hour meeting ended up going on for over four hours and, having polished off our agenda in twenty minutes, we cancelled our respective appointments for that afternoon and spent the rest of the day polishing off a couple of bottles of fine red wine and giggling like school boys over various stories and jokes that nobody else would understand. It was refreshing to know I’d be working with such a great guy. Over the next few weeks, his ‘can do’ attitude bulldozed through all the usual nonsense red tape and we had fun discussing business, families and experiences of places from all over the world.
Our respective work schedules meant we didn’t meet that frequently, but we scheduled regular get-togethers, once every month or two, always over either a full English breakfast in “the ‘hood”, or a mandatory ‘Tavuk Shish’ at one of London’s ‘Haz’ Turkish restaurants. We were always texting each other and whenever we met, it was as though we had only previously met the day before, even though it might have been a month and a few thousand air miles ago. I now know of course, that it wasn’t just me. This was how your dad was – a very popular and funny person, who never took things too seriously and who had a personal ‘code of conduct’ that set himself apart from almost everyone I’ve met. He had a that rare ability to make professionalism fun.
One of his most endearing features was his generous and caring nature – he loved helping people and I’ve got the perfect example to share with you. They say you find out who your real friends are when things get a little bumpy and you go to those friends for advice and help. A little while ago, that happened to me. I unexpectedly found myself in a sticky situation at work and that meant your dad and I actually had to talk about proper business issues for a change – I needed his help. Dad was one of a few people I turned to for support. Many of the others I had known professionally for ten years or more and, of course, they all made the right noises and said they’d “do everything they could”. Predictably however, the sympathy didn’t convert into action and it became obvious that I had suddenly become interruption for the empty suits who were keen to remove me from their ‘things to do’ pile; after all, I wasn’t going to change their lifestyle. Your dad however, stepped up. He dropped everything, called a meeting with me to fully understand the issue, then called another meeting with his colleagues and owned the task of working with them to help build a solution. He updated me twice a day, following feedback he’d received from his intercontinental colleagues and worked really hard to help me. He was a very busy man and simply didn’t need to do that – it was something I had never seen before, not in my 35 years in this dog-eat-dog industry and it was something I shall never, ever forget.
I’m sorry that you won’t have the opportunity to share growing up with your dad – he adored both you and your mum and he was immensely proud to be your dad. He always beamed with joy when he shared the pictures and stories about what you and he had been up to – I think you gave him an excuse to unleash the child in his brain and let his inner self act its age! He would have given anything to be beside you now and in the future, so you need to be strong for him and look after mum. He’ll look down on you both with that big smile on his face and if you grow up to have half his decency and generous, caring attitude, as well as his wicked sense of humour, you will do him proud as well. He was an extraordinary man and in the years to come, you should occasionally read all these messages to remind you what you’re aiming for smile emoticon
Now then, at the beginning of this monologue I mentioned a helicopter flight. I promised your dad that I’d fly you over London when the weather was better, so when you both feel like it, just get your mum to drop me a line and we’ll fix it up. It’s the very, very least I can do for you and your dad.