Celebrating an Employee's Milestone
About six years ago, I was teaching Financial Management at Wayland Baptist University. It was the first day of that semester when a student and her friend lugged in two boxes of Starbucks coffee for their classmates (and me) to enjoy. She had heard that I encouraged food in class and thought (correctly) that doing something extra the first day of class would make an impression.
Her name was (still is) Michelle Kuehner, and a couple of weeks ago, she (finally) graduated with her Bachelor’s degree.
Between these two events, I hired her as my first full-time employee. We were both taking a chance—she more so than I. The advantage was mine as I could observe her performance in class for four months. Her work ethic was beyond reproach. She was diligent, prepared, organized, tenacious, and other words from the thesaurus. Me? –I was the absent-minded professor.
I’m not sure if she knew what she was getting into. Delegation doesn’t scare me. My small office demanded that she learn pretty much everything, all at once, with not a lot of help or guidance. A month or so into the job, I ended up in the hospital with appendicitis, leaving her to run the show. A week after I got back, with me supposedly on bed rest (sorry, Doc), we get a surprise audit by the Texas State Securities Board. I hobbled, she scrambled, and we passed.
Michelle didn’t slow down from there. All along the way she raised a family, was a leader in several civic organizations, worked remotely when her husband was stationed in Germany, and traveled around the country learning to do her job better. Even with all of that, she somehow fit in enough study time to graduate with honors. Even full-time students without jobs and other responsibilities find this almost impossible. Michelle epitomized the saying, “If you’ve got work to be done, give it to a busy person.”
Keeping busy at work has given her more job titles than years as an adult. Officially, her current titles (I think) are Director of Operations and Chief Compliance Officer. In reality, she’s in charge of anything that I don’t do directly. Don’t worry; you don’t have to worship her. She’s not perfect. But she is perfect for my firm.
At least our clients seem to think so. They have learned over the years to call Michelle for anything not directly related to managing their investments. They know that she’ll likely be able to attend to their needs or will make sure that whoever does will take care of it. Me–did I mention that absent-minded thing already?
But this is a column about money. So what can we learn from this? I haven’t a clue. Perhaps there is a lesson about trusting your instincts and taking a chance. Maybe it’s about hard work and perseverance. You might learn a bit about being flexible in life. I don’t know.
So, this week we’re taking a break from money. I wanted to tell y’all about the milestone that Michelle made in getting her degree, how she was impressive long before she flipped her tassel to the left, and how proud I am to call her both employee and friend.
I guess the coffee was a good idea.
This article was published under the title "Celebrating employee's educational milestone"
in the WichitaFalls Times Record Newson October 24, 2010.