03 October 2014

The Role Model Leader

For many children in Singapore, it's Children's Day. I was surprised at the usually-quiet-during-office-hours Suntec Mall be bubbling with so many parents and screaming kiddos running around.. I almost tripped on a few as I scrambled to get a quick lunch fix while carrying a few parcels to the post office (yes! a few more sales!)

For my beloved ex-colleagues in Allergan Asia Pacific, today is the day we mourned the loss of a great leader, Ian Bell. Ian is one of the charismatic leaders who have left me a deep impression, and definitely a role model to me of what a good leader should be like.

receiving the Allergan Award of Excellence on 22 February 2013
with Ian to the left and Ravi to the right

You probably know how many jobs I've been in my employment history (let alone this year!), including my temp and freelance assignments. As mostly a small fly, it is no surprise that senior management don't give a toot about your existence.

But Ian remembers people, he knows us by name. Perhaps some people might argue that Ian knows my name because I was the assistant to the Vice President of HR Asia Pacific. At least I know he recalls the names of the other employees who are seated along his "aisle" and do not report directly to a member of the leadership team.

Ian remains the most approachable and friendliest Senior Leader I've ever known (not just in Allergan but in my entire employment history). When he comes in to the office, he greets us with a warm smile. And when he is leaving the office after the usual working hours, he notices who's still in the office and will shout out to us not to work too late and have a good evening. (my ex-boss does too :) even though there are some colleagues who say she looks very stern)

celebrating Ian's birthday in his office last year
(ah! i miss these birthday celebrations! i remembered how we
pleasantly shocked Gerry on his first few weeks joining our company!)

I recall the Christmas parties where he and Kelvin told bad British jokes (no one's laughing! only they can understand the cold English jokes.. ha!) and danced to a retro song (was it Staying Alive by the Bee Gees?) Those were the days.

But much importantly, I remembered his Christmas presents for the gift exchange, one of them being Adele's CD. It doesn't matter if he was the one who bought the gift or his assistant / the receptionist did it. What's important is that he participated - while many senior management didn't. And instead of his own name, he would drop the name of our pantry auntie (an external service provider) into the staff lucky draw box.

Anyone recalled how our faces and arms adorned the Allergan Global Values when it was launched in Asia Pacific on Valentines' Day 2013? Ian painted a big blue logo on his face (ok, David Pyott won hands-down with his tearing of sleeve to show off his 'Allergan-tattooed' arm!)

"just my arm will do!"
Allergan Global Values Launch in Asia Pacific
14 February 2012

And looked what I found?

Just days from me joining Allergan
in our retro outfits for Retro Fever company dinner 2012

I still recall how realistic he played the part of the Mexican amigo in his full Mexican attire for our Mexican Night company dinner in 2013, how that heavy cape caused him to sweat buckets! (ok, Kelvin and Brian made us laughed more with the kids-towel cape and Crayon Shinchan eyebrows!)

To the everyday employee, it's the small things that we remember, and it's these small things that matter to us. 

Thank you for being an inspirational leader!

It was an honor to have worked with him, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors!