It was a joy to see you as you can imagine from the level of excitement last Saturday when we came in full force “at a whistle”, like in the old days.
But our early encounters weren’t so cozy. You first arrived in Singapore at a time when globalization reared its head. Corporate instituted a series of unpopular, unconventional exercises that affected our traditional way of working. We knew it wasn’t easy for you but it was harder for us.
I remember facing you across the big table in the cold boardroom, debating the outsourcing of home-grown expertise that would result in the displacement of an entire team of people who had worked hard to grow the company.
It must have been tough for you to hold your ground and I was unwittingly jeopardizing my career fighting for colleagues by challenging management.
In the end, we came to an acceptable compromise. I believe you stuck your neck out for us. Up till today, that was a battle many of us will not forget. It was also the start of a progressive era in the organization when people were highly driven and motivated.
We looked forward to coming to work knowing that management would recognize and promote talent without discrimination; that there were no clusters of political factions to hold back cooperation; that the staff was empowered to innovate and improvise as long as our actions were legal and ethical; and that we could only achieve greatness by working closely together.
You know, though you remind us of Kenny Rogers and tower over us, you never made us feel small. The respect for each other lifted us above the average crowd. Your legacy continues.
Thank you Phil, for the best days of our working lives. Till we meet again, may you enjoy good health and happiness.
Phillip Melchior a former journalist, held senior management positions with Reuters in Asia and London until he retired in 2002. Despite his extremely busy retirement serving in the Board of Antarctica New Zealand and chairman of the volunteer search and rescue organisation LandSAR New Zealand, a Phil continues to keep in touch with his former staff in Singapore. Picture above taken circa 1992 after a dragon boat race, courtesy of Jennifer.