Remembering Paula Menkveld
For this 2015 Woman Worth Watching® Award Winner, every award was a reflection of the team.
Paula Menkveld defined leadership. As Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technology’s Director of Customer Service, Menkveld was unabashedly enthusiastic about her role, her team, and opportunities to improve Freudenberg-NOK’s Customer Service Division.
Menkveld, who joined Freudenberg-NOK in 2006, worked with her team to reenergize the company’s customer outreach and reputation. Three years ago, she successfully developed and launched the highly successful People Organized to Deliver Service (PODS) program (including 24-hour Blue Phone Customer Service) to further build the company’s relationships with its customers. The PODS program, in combination with Menkveld’s insistence that every customer inquiry receive a prompt, courteous, and precise answer, resulted in a 30 percent improvement in the department’s response and acknowledgment record. Despite a complex portfolio of more than 20,000 components, Menkveld helped her team maintain business protocols that have established rock-solid relations with internal and external customers.
A leader in life, Menkveld’s contributions will be felt long after her untimely death on July 11, 2014.
“Paula possessed an extraordinary range of talents and a most exemplary character, which will be celebrated, mourned, and missed,” said David R. Monaco, president of General Industry North America, Freudenberg-NOK. “May we all remember Paula and pay tribute to her gifts by demonstrating her exceptional leadership, humility, and grace in our own lives.”
Menkveld’s leadership qualities and professional achievements also resulted in her selection as one of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ top 20 executives of 2014. Menkveld was too sick to attend the award ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, but continued to exhibit extraordinary leadership from her hospital room, sending the following email to her team:
Good Morning, Team!
Wow—what a week that didn’t happen!
As you might know, I was to be in Istanbul, Turkey, this past week as our representative to accept an award for Leadership presented to recognize the changes implemented in Customer Service over the past 12–14 months in North America. Unfortunately, that was not to be due to recent health challenges.
But this did get me to thinking very closely about what we have done and been successful at during the past several months.
This has NOTHING to do with me. Nothing at all. It has everything to do with YOU! You were presented with a list of requests and requirements, and seized upon them. What can I say? You are the LEADERS—you are the STARS! And you shall each remain a star in my heart always.
Sharing, guiding, leading are each of the gifts you possess, not just in Customer Service, but in life. Mothers, sisters, wives and significant others, customer service team members, teacher aides, shipping support, and runners to get product out of the door, you make it happen for the Team and FNST.
I AM SO PROUD OF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU.
As my life passes another transition, please know that this is merely a move forward for me and an achievement for you.
Thank you for your continuing support, now and as you have always given. You are each precious to me and to your families.