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Thanks Boss

Bob Sutton once said, “Bosses Matter”.

No doubt Bob, considering how much of our lives we spend with these characters. Funny thing though, I don’t remember a lot of people saying, “my boss is so great”. Not all of my boss-memories are good either. There is much I’d like to forget, mostly because I’m embarrassed about how much I deserved the treatment I got. But to say most of those relationships were hard would be copping to my own responsibility. Better to ask what did I learn? In 25 years I’ve had 22 bosses, as best I can recollect, and every boss has taught me some important lesson or helped me on my way. No  easy lessons, but they never are.  So this is the part where I say thanks Boss, I wouldn’t be here today without you.


Rene Komoda – You were my first boss after college. I had no clue what I was doing and you knew it. So you got me on the steep learning curve. Your message was like the Nike commercial, “just do it”. It was just the right advice then, and it still is. Thanks.

Cathy Kroskey – You were easy to get along with, but only when the work was getting done. Straight talk, no bullshit. You gave me my first promotion and my first raise; that first taste of what might be possible. Thanks.

John David – Rarely have I come across someone so interested in helping other people. Thanks for leading by example and for teaching me the ropes on my first manufacturing job.

Phil Rayburg – You were a tough boss Phil, but a great teacher. You taught me self-reliance by insisting that I figure it out, listen to the data, and own the outcomes. This is the best professional advice I ever received, and it continues to define my outlook on work life, private life, and leadership. Thanks.

Bob Harker – Before we worked together you had the reputation as being the toughest assignment in the company, so of course I asked to be assigned to you. You consistently set the bar higher than I thought I could jump. But I jumped anyway, and it was worth it. Thanks.

Luis Bloise – Professionalism and integrity; until I heard you say it these were only words in a book. You were the first person to ever talk to me about these important concepts. We joked around a lot, but never, ever about professionalism and integrity. Thanks.

Dave Tillett – I only reported to you for a few months, after our little biotech in Boulder was bought-up. You were the only person who actively encouraged me to move to LA. Thanks for sending me to finishing school in California, I learned so much while I was there.

Jay Rohrbach – We didn’t see eye to eye on most things. But in spite of it, you had the uncanny good sense to assign me to the MGDF project. I still count that project as one of the best memories of my career. Thanks.

Bruce Waters – You taught me the difference between managing & leading, and introduced me to Warren Bennis. You were another great example of integrity and professional bearing. It was really fun hanging out too. Thanks.

Bob Harker, part 2 – Thanks for giving me a chance to operate in a whole different career arena. The second time around was even better than the first.

Preston Brown – You taught me everything I know about ERP, integrated systems thinking, materials management, and logistics. This became a launching point for so many other opportunities. Thanks.

Deb Long – You bought me enough time to get out of town when I was about to be lynched. Thanks.

Greg Sherwood – You gave me all the freedom I asked for and left me alone to get it done. You trusted me and that mattered a lot. Thanks.

Pam Pierson – We only spent 2 months together, but you recognized my enthusiasm and rewarded it. Thanks.

Kent Hoffman – You were the first boss that ever really let me off the leash. I’d been waiting almost 20 years for that chance to run with the ball. I ran like hell and it felt so good! Thanks.

Vlad Mikijanic – Thanks for taking a chance on me when I really needed someone to take a chance on me.

Syed Abidi – You also took some chances on me and then trusted me to work directly with our clients and regulators. Best of all, you were (and still are) always willing to spend time with me whenever I ask. Thanks.

Rob Haslam – You taught me the regulatory language of the rest of the world. You listened and encouraged; I learned and practiced. And we won. Thanks.

Tony Horton – Thanks for affirming most of the things I believed in, and for calling bullshit on the stuff I am wrong about.

It’s likely I’ll never see most of my former bosses again, although I’d count myself lucky if I do.  It’s also likely that most of my bosses will never even read this. That doesn’t matter;  each one gave me experience, exposure, and opportunity. It was never easy, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Thanks Boss.

  1. May 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I never came across with this kind of reading about bosses before. Very positive gesture for seniors. Nice part is that you still remember them.

  2. May 9, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Very positive gesture of respect for seniors. Nice part is you still remember them.

  3. Vlad Mikijanic
    May 9, 2012 at 2:22 am

    A very interesting topic Alex. In the thirty five years I spent in this industry I figured that first off, no one ever said thanks to anyone in QA/Reg Affairs. When we did our jobs well nothing bad happens to your company. But when something does slip by, usually caused by someone outside of QA, the blame was usually immediate and misdirected. To succeed in the regulatory arena one needs a politically thick hide, a belief in a higher calling and purpose, and a Don Quixote complex.
    You thank me for taking a chance on you, but I never did that. What I did was give someone an opportunity to do what he was well prepared to be. And you obviously have done it well. The trick in being a “boss” is to recognize the difference and adjust your expectations accordingly. Just remember…you work for a company, but you speak for countless patients; mothers, fathers, children, parents, and spouses. They have no one else to see that the truth speaks for them and that the right thing is done. Thanks for the recognition and keep on tilting at those windmills.

    “Better to be hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.”
    ― Khaled Hosseini

  4. tony horton
    May 9, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Alex ….. Doing this took some courage and risk, but then that IS what you are about. Keep up the battle, keep learning, and continue working hard to be as good a ‘teacher’ as you are a ‘student’. Learning is partly for us and then more importantly it is to help others! Thank you for your willingness to learn!! Tony, the incumbent

    • May 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Nice to see notes from Vlad Mikijanic and Toni Horton. My respects to you both.

      Alex – Nice start on your article ‘Thanks Boss’, you already got two Bosses two here.


  5. May 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Vlad Mikijanic and Tony Horton – My respects to you both.

    Alex, nice job! you already got two Bosses here.

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