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29 October 2006

Travel to Hong Kong:
Meeting my mentor

Wolfgang Kruecker, Joyce Lui, and Paul Ancheta

Wolfgang Kruecker & Joyce Lui, from the first company I ever worked with
Image source: Joyce Lui

THERE THEY were, waiting for me at the foot of the escalator at the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel lobby. He looked a bit older than the young Michael Douglas look-alike I remembered from 18 years ago. She maintained the slender, graceful looks of the Chinese youth I knew back then.

Memories of training, learning, and growing in a corporate environment ensure that the bonds are never forgottenIn Hong Kong on a business trip early this month, I found time to meet up with Wolfgang Kruecker and Joyce Lui. They were my colleagues at Triumph International, the first company I joined after college in 1988. Mr. Kruecker was the regional advertising head based in Hong Kong; he provided the standards of excellence in visual merchandising for such upstarts as me and continued to guide me throughout my nine-year tenure in Triumph. He was my mentor. Joyce was his design assistant who coordinated Triumph's visual merchandising in all of Southeast Asia; she would travel to Manila to assist me in understanding and setting up the latest store design directions.

We sat for after-dinner drinks at the scenic Sky Lounge of the Sheraton. They asked what I had been doing since leaving Triumph ten years ago, and we opened up a stream of memories that left me with deeper respect and affection for both of them.

Casual friends can meet up after 20 years and renew old ties, but not with the same grateful fondness that dots a successful mentor-trainee relationship. Memories of training, learning, and growing in a corporate environment ensure that the bonds are never forgotten. And with those bonds come the traits that make the relationship special. When I ordered soda that night, Mr. Kruecker knew the reason. "You don't take wine because you're a Bahá'í." He remembered that about me.

The night sped by fast; soon it was time to go. I assured Mr. Kruecker and Joyce of a place to stay when they visited Mumbai; they promised to keep in touch. It may take another 18 years for us to meet again; in fact, we may never even meet again. Even if the links fade with time and place, they remain strong in my heart and mind.

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