Bobby Amirshahi: Well, good evening everybody, it’s a pleasure to be here, and I’m so honored that my good friend and former boss Bob Jiminez, has asked me to come here and speak for hopefully under three minutes. I’m going to do my best. I think I first met Bob, around 2004-2005, this would have been right before the first I quit Cox Communications, or Cox Enterprises. I think he had been named director, senior director, something like that at the CorpCom function at the parent company. Mind you, that was the head of the function, as the recruiters in this room know, they’ve never been guilty of title inflation at that company.
Today, Bob’s the SVP of CorpCom, and many other things of the company. Overseeing travel, corporate giving, administrative services and so on. But I want to talk to you about Bob, just through my lens. I worked for him for about five years, and I’ve known him ever since then. There’s something about a person like Bob Jimenez in the room, in your company. And sometimes…you see someone with his last name, his heritage, his fluency of Spanish, and his ability to navigate through a company that sends a signal. It sends a signal to other people in the company that, this place could be a very good place for me too. So that was the first signal I got from Bob when I worked with him, and for him.
So, I’ll tell you about a couple of experiences, and quickly get him on stage.
So, it was in my early 30s when Bob actually hired me back into the Cox organization. Which was great, I had only been gone a year, this was my first, what I believed to be my first senior role, and I know this because my office had a lot of window panes. It was the big enough office that you could put a meeting desk… I’m sorry, a table in there. I thought I had done well for myself. I had been very aggressive in the cable division, I’d even done a stint in Hollywood, but very quickly I realized being at the holding company of a major successful company that I was a bit of a pit bull in a China Shop, right?
I realized very quickly, that as a team, if we were going to help Cox reach it’s growth goals, and its reputational goals, that I would have to find a balance. And I would need to understand that nuance of persuasion with diplomacy and being effective. And how to sell your ideas, one by one.
So I really did slow down, I really did listen to Bob, to model some of his behaviors, to learn patience, and I didn’t even realize in the beginning that he was mentoring me by asking questions all the time. He wasn’t one to give directives, and give recommendations. He really listened. And I think everyone in this room who knows, and I appreciate how Bob Feldman and others have brought up his name already. He’s just very classy. I think everybody who knows him, knows that he’s that kind of guy.
I remember my first week working for him, I was running around the building, keeping up with him to meet people, and he’s the kind of guy that picks up a piece of trash right next to the elevator. That he knew every security guard’s name. Then after awhile, I realized that there was so many people coming and going out of his office. Not just from Cox, but from other places. And I realized that over time, he was a mentor and a coach to many people besides me, besides members of my team. He really made himself available to a lot of people.
So it’s interesting that, maybe by coincidence, just a few weeks ago in New York City, I was attending a diversity conference, it called NAMIC in the TV cable space. And I met a Cox executive, I’d never met her before. Very striking woman, big smile, she’s African- American, her name is Joy Eva Philpot and when she was introduced to me, and knew what I did at Cox in a past life, she said, “Oh, do you know Bob?” I said, “I sure do, I work for him.”
Her eyes lit up, and she volunteered right away how she had been to his office to get advice on how to navigate the culture, understand the business there, on many occasions. So I realized, really wasn’t such a coincidence to run into her, and to talk about Bob, because his influence was really, truly far reaching and wide. And I realized that, not just from my experience, but I think from so many other stories I could tell you, and it’s really been eight years, I think since I worked at Cox, he’s still on my call list.
He’s the person that I call for career advice. Should I restructure this way? Should I do it that way? Should I hire this guy? You name it. At the end of the day, we talk a lot about the people that we trust, and of course, I think the world of him, and I care about him, and I think it’s just so important that you have, in this corporate life, people that you can just be yourself with, and really have those relationships that go long past the corporate world, and the reporting structure.
Without any further ado, I’m so excited as my colleague and friend to bring him up, Bob Jiminez, for the John “Jack” Koten Corporate Award.
Bob Jiminez: Wow. (Spanish) No, that’s not your wine speaking to you at the moment. It’s a Spanish proverb actually, that means, tell me who you walk with. Tell me you hang out with, and I’ll tell you what kind of person you really are. And I’ve had the good fortune of being able to walk with some pretty amazing people in my life.
Andre Van Niekerk is one of those individuals. Upon learning that I had been denied admission to a graduate school of my choice, he picked up the phone, gave me a call, and he says, “This is how this is going to work.” He said. “I’ve already made an appointment with the dean of admissions, I’m going to pick you up in five minutes, I’ll tell you the rest on the way there.” I say, who is this?
Later on, fast forward, we were sitting in the dean of admissions office, and there he was, talking about me. Really just chastising this poor dean of admissions about the terrible decision they had made, and why they needed to accept me into their program. And he proceeded to go on and say, “He needs to be accepted immediately, right now.”
Well, that didn’t happen, but it did happen the very next day. Carolyn Gosselin, she’s another amazing person in my life. When I started in that graduate school, I was fortunate enough to be paired with Carolyn, who was running the local WNR PR firm in Orlando, which is where I went to grad school. She took me under her wing. She introduced me to this marvelous world of public relations. I credit her for that. And here I am, almost 30 years later, after just an amazingly rewarding career, and fulfilling career in this wonderful thing that we get to do.
Andre changed my life. Carolyn changed my life, and that’s because mentoring changes lives. That’s the bottom line.
I want to thank the Plank Center so much for this recognition, for those who nominated me, you know who you are. I think I know who you are. I’d like to thank my family, they weren’t able to be here tonight. They’re my foundation, but my kids are in final rehearsals for their schools production of The Lion King, My son is in the role of Scar, and my daughter’s a dancing lioness, so they needed to be there tonight. But they truly are essential in my life. And there was a couple of people here, who really made an effort to be here as well. And I really want to recognize them as well.
The first one is absolutely the best friend that anyone could ever imagine having, and she is a PR pro in her own right. Leading communications for some amazing brands, like Auto Trader, and Kelley Blue Book, my dear friend Shirley Powell. Thank you for being here from Atlanta. And Bobby, my gosh, that introduction, it was too much. All I can say about you my friend, is I’m just too proud, SVP of communications of Univision, wow. Or Univision is the right way to say it. Just so impressive, and here’s the thing about that, Bobby. The best is yet to come for you my friend.
Thank you all so very much, to my fellow honorees this evening, congratulations, and thank you so much again.
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