Drew, my line manager (Audience Development Director), in front of all who came to say goodbye:
“Ladies and gentlemen. It gives me absolutely no pleasure whatsoever to say farewell to the very first member of Haymarket’s then nascent Audience Development team, Irina. I interviewed Irina in January 2013, and once she had convinced me she wasn’t actually a dodgy Eastern European SEO spammer I snapped her up, and have never once regretted my decision.
One thing that stood out immediately in the interview was that Irina’s command of the English language was far superior to many of the British born candidates at the time, so score one point for the marvellous Romanian education system. However, over time we discovered that while Irina’s business English could certainly do the business, her grasp of English manners and English idiom was another matter entirely.
So, where to begin? Well, there was the time she told me that I needed to propose to my girlfriend, as she would then be able to buy me “something kinky”. The mind boggles.
Then last year, before an infamous annual event, when Irina innocently asked Simon Grayson’s advice about how she should “service” her husband that evening. This should have been self-explanatory given that the event in question is known as Steak and Blowjob day.
While working at Haymarket, Irina took her citizenship test, and passed with flying colours. Irina actually took her study of Britishness further than most, and started reading sociological studies of the English people. Now, most of you will not know this, but Irina maintained a blog throughout her Anglicisation, and I’m going to read you a little bit from it now, from a post entitled “My Brits and their lovely rules”:
“I am starting to love them more and more.
Mainly because I understand them better, but most importantly because they encourage me to become a better person. It’s all about the respect they have towards their friends, family, neighbours and community in general. This is all translated into respecting the rules, be them legal or ethical.
I cannot describe this in simple words, it’s something inside me that makes me want to behave like my lovely Brits. I just want to get rid of all the negative energy and start focussing on being altruistic and respecting simple rules.”
Heartfelt stuff from a lady with a big heart. I think all of our team and anyone who has been lucky enough to work with her will concur that Irina has always treated everyone around her in a wonderful way that transcends nationality. And as a result of her studies I can confirm that a ten minute conversation about the weather holds no fears for her, and she no longer barges to the front of the queue at Mustard & Cress. However, not all British ways make sense to her… she still doesn’t understand why we pay more money for old houses than new ones.
I also found another blog post that starts with the sentence, “My boss is a really cool guy”, quite possibly posted shortly before an appraisal?
Through her time here she has demonstrated over and again her famed thoroughness and attention to detail, which you will shortly see for yourselves courtesy of the 55 slide Powerpoint deck she has prepared to accompany her leaving speech – entitled ‘Things at Haymarket I have enjoyed, not enjoyed, but mostly tolerated’.
It was this ability to thoroughly understand an industry that led Tim Bulley to comment after her first presentation about Caravan Sitefinder that he’d “swear she’d been a caravanner for 10 years”. Unfortunately Irina took this far too literally, and despite advice to the contrary she went on a friends and family holiday trip to Camber Sands caravan park that still gives her nightmares.
So Irina, I’d like to thank you for quite a few things. Thank you for being entirely reliable and trustworthy, never having to be chased for work, always delivering and putting in the effort whenever it was needed. Thank you for being the only person ever to call me ‘Boss’ without meaning it sarcastically. Thank you for taking the responsibility of mentoring a junior exec so seriously and doing a great job of it. Thank you for being a great colleague and good friend to the whole team, doing so much for team morale, acting as our unofficial social secretary, and making Friday team lunches a lot funnier.
Before I conclude I’d like to mention a couple of observations from Irina’s favourite book, entitled ‘Watching the English”. The first is that we understate everything, so much so that the book says, “this is not just a specialty of the English sense of humour, it is a way of life”. The second is that we are always embarrassed when it comes to greetings, farewells and showing emotion, or as the book says…
“One must appear self-conscious, ill-at-ease, stiff, awkward and, above all, embarrassed. Smoothness, glibness and confidence are inappropriate and un-English. Hesitation, dithering and ineptness are, surprising as it may seem, correct behaviour.”
So, before we all run the gauntlet of trying to work out whether to go for a farewell hug, peck on the cheek or the full European, and end up looking like two chickens doing a mating dance, it remains for me to say – Good luck at Flight Centre, we hope it turns out to be everything you want. And we will miss you very much, because at the end of the day you weren’t too bad at your job, and you’re alright for a foreigner.”
“Thank you very much for supporting me and putting up with me all this time. Thank you for teaching me words like “kinky” and “servicing” – this is very useful, it’ll help me a lot in my new job. Thank you for accepting me in your country, your company, and your heart. I’m so grateful.
To conclude, you know how some people say the Romanians are known for stealing? Well, you are thieves as well because you stole my heart!
I will miss you all…!”