Friendship Without Borders – An Aon Experience
Work defines the characteristics of ethics, morals and performance. It establishes a means of setting a lifestyle and a sense of community. One of the most valuable and hidden assets of the workplace is the development and nurturing of bonds and friendships. This piece is not just about the establishment of bonds but the destruction of borders and the ability to open your eyes to the globalization of friendship.
Aon has established a culture of community and built it into a moral structure that has broken global barriers and provided deep personal connections throughout the world.
Let us begin the journey of how Aon has provided me with a Global Network of support.
Remember those brisk spring mornings with crystallized ice forming on the edge of the green leaves and the site of your breath flowing out of your mouth. The walk to school was a dreadful thought, but coming home to hours of playtime with your friends until the sun set and the darkness loomed with only the echoes of mother’s voices calling in their children to another night of homework and sleep made it worth the effort.
Life was simple then. Your friends lived only a few houses away and you all grew up together. That was my hometown; a town void of crime, pollution, and noise. Life was innocence wrapped in a Cherry Slurpie and Pop Rocks. We flipped baseball cards, built tree houses, played hide and seek and jumped on trampolines.
Then we grew up to a life of responsibility and reflection. Yet we never lost focus on the important things in our lives; our friendships. Today friendships have broken the barriers of tradition. No longer
dictated by similar backgrounds, religious beliefs and close proximity we are living in a time of broadened horizons.
Technology, communication and transportation have brought the planet closer than we ever could have dreamed as children.
Friends are found in the strangest places. We see them in the workplace, on the community softball team, at the diner, in the subway, online, in the neighborhood or across the ocean. Today friends bring a new perspective allowing us to break the barriers of prejudice and ignorance and open our eyes to the one common goal we all possess: personal happiness.
As a youth, we struggled so hard to fit in. Was I a jock, a geek, a basket case, or just in a constant state of confusion? For most of us, we found an identity but for some we are still evolving.
What makes a friend a friend? To me, a friend can make me laugh or cry, help me find clarity when confused, find solutions when problems arise and maintain the attributes of reliability, honesty, and support.
I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to a few of my friends, Thais, Fritz, Paul, Arjun, Ewa and Agnieszka. We all have one common connection, Aon but what I have learned from each of them is that we all love to live and all have a unique set of talents and skills that brings us a sense of completeness.
My Aon friends don’t live in the same neighborhood, same city, same state or even the same country. Thais lives in Brazil, Fritz the Philippines, Paul resides in Chicago, Arjun is our India representation and Ewa and Agnieszka call home Kraskow, Poland. Nearly 25,000 miles separates us from the ability to sit together for dinner but I can say for certainty that these are six amazing and unique individuals. Whether it is on a professional or personal level, each has shared part of their lives with me.
Thais spends her day developing marketing strategies from our Brazil office but loves her dog and three cats. She is often found walking her dog or spending time on the couch watching movies with them. She has a passion for Romero Britto art (http://www.britto.com/). If you haven’t seen his work, I highly recommend it. With roots in Treviso, Italy she never seizes her craving for pasta and chocolate.
Fritz is an energetic professional that loves to travel. In fact in the next three to five months he is planning excursions to Thailand, Singapore and other Asian nations. He loves photography but admits he isn’t really that good. While on travel you will find him snorkeling or dining at the local restaurants enjoying the delicacies of the area.
Paul can be summed up with the terms ambition and spirituality. He is one of our delivery specialists who is active in Toastmasters leadership and served as the Vice-President of Public Relations for the Hewitt Leadership Institute last year. When he is not in a continuous mode of learning and development you may find Paul riding his motorcycle or horseback riding. He is also involved in jet skiing and fantasy sports. Originally from Belarus, Paul brings a bit of Russian culture to our Midwest corporate headquarters.
Ewa is a very intelligent colleague and friend who possesses an MA in Indology and has a deep understanding of Hindi and Sanskrit. Her dream destination is New Zealand. Let’s wish her luck getting there soon. She loves metal and hard rock and has recently taken up Krav Maga (which combines the martial arts techniques of Maui Thai, Karate and Tae Kwon Do)
Agnieszka along with her beautiful name is an avid fan of photography and travel. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Tourism. She did her thesis on the National Geographic Society and an expedition organized by the foundation. She is pursuing an MA and studying American Studies as well.
Her favorite places in the world are Krakow (home), Paris and New York City whose streets will don her presence in the autumn.
Arjun is a little more difficult to talk about when we think of hobbies because he is rarely not working.
A true technology geek, Arjun is a spiritual and practical thinker; always looking for innovative ways to enhance current technology and develop new productive solutions. He is an active social volunteer for a non-profit socio-spiritual organization that works internationally to address issues of social concern (www.divyajyoti.org). By giving of himself and his time, Arjun is working diligently to provide handicapped individuals with means of becoming self-sufficient and contributing members of society and providing educational assistance to children that lack the funds and resources for proper education.
He has traveled through many regions of India including the higher Himalayan ranges and the Great Indian Dessert combining religion, spirituality and cultural awareness. He has also been seen in various parts of Western Europe and Hong Kong. When Arjun has a moment of downtime he loves building toy airplanes.
As I stand looking in the mirror, what do I see? To my left Chicago, to my right Poland, below Brazil and over my shoulder the Philippines and India.
My friends at Aon enjoy to travel, capture images in photography, listen to music, love their pets, play with gadgets and love food and family. Sound familiar. Each day I try to devote some time to learn something new that will keep me challenged and engaged. Through these colleagues I have learned to expand my understanding of global culture and explore new ways to continue to pursue happiness.