In memoriam - Simone Wadham, the lover of people
FYI, this story is more than a year old
The New Zealand channel is a small place which means that it is more driven by the people and connections they make than perhaps anywhere else.
Sometimes, someone comes along that brings the term ‘community’ to life within the industry - Simone Wadham was one of those people.
Every loss within a community is felt widely and fiercely - and when we lose someone like Simone it will always be a time for us to reflect on how that person brought everyone closer together.
The following eulogy was written and spoke by Bain Hollister, the co-founder of ClearPoint, where Simone excelled as the head of talent search and experience.
Firstly, on behalf of the entire ClearPoint family - Karyn and I, Phil, Clara, Hamish, Cheryl, Kiwi, Alan, Alister - just everyone - I wanted to acknowledge your loss Scott, Piper and family. I think Kiwi and Cheryl summed things up on our behalf when they said the whole of ClearPoint is grieving with you at this time.
Its an honour, privilege, and frankly daunting to speak briefly about Simone. I wanted tothis in that we mostly know this incredible lady through her professional working life. Such was her impact on people - there will be innumerable personal stories which we will also hear from today.
So, professional Simone - three perspectives.
Simone, the Lover of People
Relentless in her pursuit in seeing the best in everyone. We sometimes joked - if a one-legged, one-eyed, one-armed, non-IT candidate came through the door at ClearPoint, Simone would find the good, and set about getting us excited why we should hire them.
And so often she was right. She taught us all that seeing the gaps/risks/weaknesses is easy - seeing the good and the strengths is the hard part.
And it’s not so much an interview she did as an intense shining of her superpower beam into the heart of newcomers. Reflecting with Hisham and others this week - this was completely indiscriminate. It didn’t matter what culture, ethnicity, age, gender - we were all completely defenceless when she shone.
For those of you that have followed the give-a-little campaign comments online, there are some great quotes: "I walked into an interview with Simone and I left with a new friend."
Simone, the Force of Nature
It is difficult to think of a single day where Simone did not approach work with enthusiasm and energy. One day, Simone comes bounding up to me at about 5 pm, not the most energetic of hours for most people - no problem for Simone.
I said, “What’s up?”
She said, “I’ve had a great day”.
“I interviewed six wonderful candidates and only one thing could have made it more perfect”.
I am tired just thinking of 6x 1-hour interviews so I say, “What? 7 candidates?”
“No, if I had managed to get one of their wives, partners or loved ones also on board at ClearPoint - that would have been perfect!”
And that was professional Simone. Genuinely caring about people, building great teams and genuinely wanting to make the work environment a great place to be for everyone.
Whenever there are people in need, Simone was there. Whenever there was a work event, Simone was there. If there’s someone alone at any event, she would magically appear, put them at ease and introduce them into people and groups.
She propelled herself into tech courses to upskill herself. She led and organised meetups to bring people into the company. She represented ClearPoint at industry events and forums. She arranged get-togethers and support lunches for teams. She started countless internal initiatives like the ClearPoint Buddy programme.
She was a huge advocate of people causes. She encouraged and led us into Pink Shirt day. Similarly, she encouraged us to get involved with helping EatMyLunch. She was a diversity advocate before diversity was even a thing. She recently was a key member of a LeanIn group for women.
Furthermore, we have been through a lot of change at work this year. Simone threw herself into the new work, the new leadership, showed her quality, showed her professionalism - always working tirelessly in the mode of advocating for people.
But it’s not just energy.
The depth of her talent was extraordinary. She knew not just names and faces of people but details about seemingly every aspect of people’s lives. Their spouses, kids, grandkids, cousins. There’s no need for Facebook or LinkedIn. She knew - and cared, deeply about people, and about the things that matter to those people.
I used to say, how do you know all this stuff? And in the few times that she was speechless, she would look at me with genuine surprise. Doesn’t everyone know this stuff? No Simone, we don’t.
Simone the Jedi Master of the Quip
Right, now this is a dangerous topic. Everyone at ClearPoint will know what I'm talking about. The raised eyebrow. The inflection of a word. The ability to cast some question, some innuendo on the most mundane and simplest of things.
We’d immediately descend into fits of laughter before the tone was dutifully restored. Only for it all to happen again moments later. It became systemic, it was contagious and glued us together.
And so, Simone injected into our every day a sense of conviviality, fun, excitement and happiness for five years and four wonderful months. She is irreplaceable. We were so very lucky. All we can aspire to do is to carry forward her memory, her spirit.
Rest in peace Simone - the wonderful lover of people.