Recently, my wife, Michelle, and I traveled to Italy for a very special vacation. As I have written in the past, because of my grandfather and the experience we shared with him and our family in Italy during our inaugural journey in 1992, I have maintained a tight bond with my Italian cousins. I have traveled to Italy on several occasions over the years, always taking time to pay a visit to my family, located in a gorgeous and quaint seaside village in the northern region of Liguria, just a short fifteen-minute drive from Portofino.
As so many of you can undoubtedly attest, the employee relocation business can be incredibly challenging, dynamic and ever-evolving, intensely competitive and amazingly rewarding… often, all in the same day! As a thirty three-year veteran of the mobility industry (I was 10 when I began my career!), I too can testify to the hyper-frenetic nature of our business. Yet, when I reflect upon my time in mobility, it’s not the wins and losses, nor the tax-law and regulatory changes, that first come to mind. Quite simply, it’s the people with whom I have locked arms and gone to battle with, and the people with whom I’ve partnered and collaborated with, that always rise to the surface.
Michelle and I spent the first half of our trip in Milan and Turin, followed by a 3-day stay with family in Chiavari and Camogli. But, because we were in Italy, we also planned to attend a very special wedding taking place during our vacation. The bride was the daughter of one of those special people in our industry. Someone with whom I have collaborated with for more than two decades and a friend who I often refer to as “the sister I never had.”
The wedding was being held in a small Tuscan village and so, after our stay with family, Michelle and I traveled two hours by train to Siena and took the 40-minute cab ride out to the Tuscan countryside. The beauty of Tuscany is truly indescribable. Peaceful. Calm and serene. You can feel your heart slow and blood-pressure drop the moment you arrive.
Although our industry, in particular the U.S. market, has gone through a litany of changes that have served to broaden the landscape with new products and services, new corporate policies and new types of relocating employees, many of us know that the foundation of the U.S. market has always rested upon the real estate industry. So, while being at a wedding in Tuscany, under any conditions, would’ve been a fairy-tale in itself, Michelle and I were honored to experience this beautiful event in the company of several women who, collectively, serve as the cornerstone of the relocation industry here in the United States.
Therefore, I thought it would be entirely appropriate for me to mention by name, a group of women I have long admired, worked with and in some instances, have been fortunate enough to call “friend” for many, many years. They are:
Joan Thomas, President, Relocation and Corporate Services, Wilkinsin ERA Real Estate
Kathy Connelly, Senior Vice President, Corporate Services, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Georgia Properties
Beth Archibald, Founder, Archibald Real Estate & Relocation Services
Jo Lay, Vice President, Relocation Services, Baird & Warner
Sue Carey, Vice President, Corporate Relocation Strategies, Baird & Warner / Chairman of The Board at Worldwide ERC
Pam Johnson O’Connor, Retired CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World
Janet Mauldin, Vice President, Relocation, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties
Nancy Suddath, Retired Senior Vice President, Relocation, Long & Foster
For decades, I have admired how each of these professionals have cared for our industry and all its’ constituents with maximum passion and commitment, courage and creativity, class and character. Respectively, they have each played a starring role in countless success stories and have served as consistent, highly respected role models for a legion of industry participants.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the star of the show in Tuscany – the bride who, just five years into her relocation career, has already established herself as a highly competent and reliable professional. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of getting to know, or, working with Allie Thomas, Vice President, Relocation & Corporate Services, Wilkinsin ERA Real Estate, be sure to search her out at any of the WERC Conferences and Symposiums, as well as the Charlotte Metro Area Relocation Council (CMARC).
There is no doubt, many others who have authored their own respective chapters in the storybook of our industry. However, in my opinion, the names I have listed above, the women who I was so blessed to be with in one of the most beautiful regions of my homeland, should garner significant recognition for their decades of sacrifice and success.
What began as a wonderful excursion through northern Italy and another amazing visit with family, ended with an unspeakably beautiful wedding in Tuscany… an experience that highlighted the essence and most special feature of the mobility industry – The People!