It’s 9:01 AM.
The customary Willow morning meeting is about to begin. Willow team members trickle in, finding a seat near the coffee bar to share the who, what, when, where and whys of their upcoming day.
The meeting begins with the first person outlining their day. But as each member of the team describes their day’s particulars, it’s clear something has a certain individual distracted.
Her gaze is fixated and she doesn’t move—other than the occasional sip of coffee. She just stares at the coffee bar in front of her in a sly repugnance—it’s currently littered with magazines and coffee cups, a casual mess no doubt left over from yesterday.
But her turn in the meeting is quickly approaching, time and disorder standing in the way of total focus. She puts her coffee down long enough to find a place for the mess. And in the last stretch of de-cluttering the coffee bar, the morning meeting share-all spotlight finally reaches her.
Her Willow red notebook is the definition of shipshape, her glasses are polished and perfect, her hair is up and immaculate and her coffee is hot and always within reaching distance—her name, Sue Richardson.
“I’m here today, working on all the things,” Sue says while picking up her coffee. She looks back at the coffee bar, breathes a sigh of relief and then takes a drink.
“All of the things” is one of many Sue-isms known throughout the office. What’s a Sue-ism you ask? To better understand this phenomenon, I went to Andrew Miller and Molly Fohrer, Willow Web Team Members and resident Sue experts, for a translation:
“A Sue-ism is just something that Sue says that becomes iconic and more than likely people in the office end up saying. ‘All of the things’, ‘I struggle with’, and ‘parts and pieces’—three classic Sue-isms.”
To learn more about the person behind this unique vernacular and general loathing for clutter, I sat down with Sue at a local watering hole for lunch. We tossed back a beer or three and I got to know more about one of the most influential and dedicated members of Willow’s team.
“I’m married, with two amazing children. I prefer coffee or beer to water. I like all kinds of music and I love to read. That’s it, are we done?” One thing that flies under the radar about Sue is her sense of humor.
Along with having more pressing things to do than help me with content for a blog post, Sue is a seasoned veteran of Willow’s team.
“I’ve been with Willow for almost seven years, started in 2009 as an account associate,” she said. In an industry synonymous with high turn around, Sue’s tenure with Willow is a perfect capsulation of her loyalty and dedication to the process and her craft.
“I love what I do and I believe in the work we are doing at Willow.”
Over the years, Willow has reinvented itself several times and continues to evolve and adapt. An instrumental part of Willow’s growth has been its unremitting use and development of the web-based workflow management system, CurrentTrack. Sue is the keeper of the CurrentTrack code, the queen of CurrentTrack. She manages the system that manages us—she’s plugged in, total exposure to any and all information, which explains why she holds the world record holder for number of tabs open in a single browser. If you want to know something, you go to Sue.
Sue recently stepped into the role of Director of Operations here at Willow. A position, she believes, is a great fit for her. I asked Sue, given her new role, what she was looking forward to most for Willow.
“Willow has changed a lot over the years, but I think our current team is in a good place—I owe a lot of my success to the great people I’ve worked with and the wonderful team I work with now. I’m excited to see what all we can do moving forward.”
To wrap up the interview, I asked Sue two “shot out of a cannon” questions.
The first was a rumor I had heard, where it was claimed Sue once ran out of memory in her Gmail email account, which was thought impossible by many people around the office. For the record, Gmail gives members 30 gigabytes free. The average size of an email is around 100 kilobytes. I’ll let you do the math.
Sue’s response, “Next question,” followed by laughter.
Secondly, some members of the team have dubbed Sue the official ‘mom’ of the office. A title, she wasn’t exactly a supporter of.
“Is that a good thing?” She laughed.
A fair point, while the mom of the office does hold a somewhat unflattering connotation, the office agrees it’s a term of endearment, even though it may not always be an obvious one. But its true meaning is one of caring and dedication—because, at the end of the day, she’s the one who cares enough to improve her surroundings, the one who drops whatever she’s doing to help and the one who wants to see everyone around her succeed. She inspires us to be better and we wouldn’t know what to do if she wasn’t around.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean up the coffee bar before Sue gets into the office later…