From the Desk of a Managing Director

My First Month As A Managing Director

I have just finished my first month as a partner at Elite Group International. I have just received my first monthly paycheck. After not being paid for four years, volunteering since the Tsunami – which washed from Indonesia to Sri Lanka December 26, 2004 – it felt good to hold my own money once again. My life has gone full-circle over those four years, when I had quit the investment bank to help orphaned children, and now one month back in the corporate world.

The past month as managing director has been busy. Elite Group International began as a copy shop to the law firms and investment banks of New York City ten years ago – about the same time I founded Orphans International Worldwide. My new corporate partner, Messan Minyanou, grew the print business into imaging, and from imaging into software development and consulting.

It made sense when we spoke over the fall to transition Elite Imaging into the Elite Group International – with three divisions: printing, imaging, and new technologies. Only what to call the new technologies section? Messan immediately suggested “Lucetec,” to which I agreed.

Over the last month, we have changed our corporate structure, designed new logos, built a website for each division – linked through the main website www.elitegroupintl.comand interviewed new staff and interns. I have tried to get my head around electronic discovery, blow-back, and software development coding.

How much different are the skills I needed to form a international development agency working in Africa, Asia, and the Americas to what I perceive I will need as managing partner of a multi-national document handling conglomerate? It all comes down to human relationships, it seems. There is always “us” and “them.” Our team – staff, Board, volunteers, and then the funders or clients. In both arenas, your success comes down to your ability to handle human relationships.

E-mail can help you, as well as your Blackberry. FaceBook and LinkedIn help you stay connected. With over 300 e-mails a day which need to be answered, it is sometimes daunting to keep abreast with developments – not to mention go to event after event where you meet ten new people to add to your dance card.

9,000 close friends in Outlook, 2,000 in FaceBook, another 1,000 in LinkedIn. Some overlap. Lawyers. Bankers. Doctors. Accountants. Professors. Public officials. Journalists. Blogging and Twitter are another good way to try to stay connected.

This enormous number of people who I am responsible for knowing is why I believe God invented interns. With Orphans International we run about 20-25 interns each semester, coordinating work-flow and connections through SalesForce and our in-house wiki site. I am now trying to recruit and integrate an intern team to help me manage at Elite.

I am sure Orphans International, at ten, will have a brilliant 2009 – committed to my vision of ending orphanages, globally, in place of family care. This was achieved in the U.S. and Canada, throughout all of Europe, Japan, Israel. It can be achieved in Guyana and Haiti, the Philippines and Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Tanzania, Togo and Ghana.

Orphans International America has a year-end champagne reception on Sutton Place next week, celebrating our survival in the midst of this new depression, sponsored by Elite Group International. My funders will meet my new partners, and the world of United Nations-associated NGOs and multi-national corporations will be bridged.

Life has an interesting irony in it, but one must swim with the river and trust the destination is in the direction of fulfilling ones potential and allowing one to meet his or her social responsibilities.

Happy New Year!

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