Well Done, Emma … Congrats, Partner!
I vividly remember the day she called to share the news.
Emma: “Rich, guess what?”
Long pause…I already knew what she was going to say.
Me: “You got it, didn’t you?”
Emma: “Yes, I’m going to be a partner”
Me: “Well Done, Emma … Congrats, Partner!”
I thought it fitting to share an old photo as the header of this post. You see, it was taken back in 2008 when we were enjoying a weekend in Stockholm, Sweden away from the client site in Germany. Not only was it a great weekend of sightseeing, but I remember our joking around about her future promotion to partner. More specifically, I remember we joked that I would deliver a speech to commemorate the accomplishment.
As the possibility of the honor became a likely outcome, Emma kept reminding me of the speech I promised. “I know, I know, no problem,” was my standard response. During the week leading up to the party she was throwing to celebrate the promotion, we met up for drinks at a client event. She said the following: “Rich, I’m expecting the most amazing speech ever from you. Seriously, it has to be perfect. Oh, and by the way, there are going to be over 150 guests, and lots of important E&Y people will be there.”
Great, I thought. How’s that for pressure? Honestly, I didn’t think much of the speech until two days before the actual event. I had an idea I wanted to say, but hadn’t yet rehearsed or even written anything down. The night before the event, I did sketch out a few notes and run through the speech in my head. My wife helped put me at ease by telling me not to over-think the speech and just talk from the heart.
The event was held at the very posh Manhattan Penthouse at 80 5th Avenue. Believe me when I tell you that no expense was spared. It felt like a very high-end wedding. Jazz band and all. Vintage Emma.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous when I arrived at the event and quickly realized that more then three quarters of the attendees were current or former E&Y colleagues. I was even more nervous when I saw the list of 11 people that would be delivering a speech. I would be #2 on the list, just after her daughter Renee, who did a great job. After me were about 5-6 partners followed by a few former colleagues and family members.
The moment of truth came and went in the blink of an eye. Based on the crowds reaction and feedback from people afterwards, I think it was very well received. I so badly wish someone recorded the speech. Oh, well. I did manage to write up what I remembered saying a few days after the speech. I think it’s 99% accurate, but of course, doesn’t convey what I think was a heart-felt delivery.
Hello everyone, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rich Vinhais. I’ve had the honor of knowing and working with Emma over the course of the past 5 years. We both joined the FSO organization at the exact same time. She came from the back-office, and I was an external hire.
I vividly recall one of our very first career conversations. I presented her with my 3-5 year plan, then paused to allow Emma to share her own. She then looked at me with an intense stare and said the following: “I am going to be partner”. She didn’t state: “I want to be partner” or “I’m going to see how the next few years go and see whether or not going the partnership is in the cards for me”. Nope, she emphatically stated: “I am going to be partner”.
Since that day I’ve been fortunate enough to observe Emma’s journey first-hand. You see, we’ve somehow managed to work together on every major engagement along the way.
I’ve come with a handful of words that come to mind when I think of Emma. I wanted to share them with you tonight. The first word is “Relentless”. I recall Emma’s first major engagement with a high profile client in Germany back in 2008. The environment was tense and the client was extremely demanding. The client challenged the value we brought to the table on a daily basis.
One day, the client stopped by the office and urgently asked that Emma come see him as soon as possible. He explained that he needed to reduce to size of the team by at least one due to budget constraints. When Emma returned, we passed along the message to which she replied: “Well, I don’t agree with that. I’ll talk to him.” About an hour or so later, Emma returned and was all business. She enthusiastically stated that we had a lot of work to do, and that we needed to fill some new roles promptly. I was thoroughly confused at this point, so I approached Emma and asked the following: “Emma, let me get something straight…You went into the client meeting knowing full well that he was looking to reduce the size of the team by at least one, and you managed to convince him we needed to grow the team by three?” To which Emma replied: “Yes. He didn’t know what he needed until I told him.” Like I said, relentless.
The next word that comes to mine is “Fearless”. Emma is never afraid of having a difficult conversation, whether it’s with a family member, client, colleague, leadership or anyone.
Another word that comes to mind is “compassion.” Emma always looks beyond the work to better understand and focus on the individual. She has an incredibly warm heart, which people quickly learn about when they need to talk to someone they trust. Her compassion is the main reason why so many people are so fiercely loyal to Emma, which is very much apparent by the turn-out to this event tonight.
The final word that comes to mind is “Integrity”. Emma has a profound sense of fair play. She always goes out of her way to do the right thing even if it’s not the popular thing to do.
I recall an engagement some time ago in Washington DC where we were working on closing the deal on an extension. The client was in a difficult position as they were dealing with budget pressures, and it seemed unlikely at the time that it was going to happen. One day, I spoke with the client regarding the extension to get a sense of our chances. The client said the following: “Rich, I trust Emma and the team to always do the right thing to support me. I can’t put a price tag on that. I will find the money to keep your team here.” Imagine that, a client who can’t put a price tag on integrity. We did in fact end up winning that extension, which went on to be a very successful engagement.
Emma’s relentless drive helped to get her noticed.
Her fearless nature cleared obstacles along the way.
Her compassion forged personal bonds.
But it was her integrity that earned her this honor, which I’m sure will guarantee her success now and in the future.
Congratulations once again, Emma. I wish you all the best.