A tribute to an industry veteran—an influence for good who inspired many.
Last month, a family emergency took me out of my office and pretty much out of touch for a week. When I returned to my office on May 7th, I was shocked beyond words to learn of the passing of contact center industry veteran and all-around good guy Greg Sherry. I’m still having a hard time coming to grips with it.
Greg was a Vice President of Marketing for Verint and was a well-known and respected industry presence wherever you found Verint, whether at a trade show or at Engage, Verint’s annual customer conference and Greg’s favorite event of the year. Greg always had a kind word for me whenever we met, and I’m sure that’s true for everyone who was lucky enough to count him as a friend.
I’ve known Greg since his days with Witness Systems, prior to Verint’s acquisition of Witness in 2007. Greg went to Verint along with the acquisition and settled into a marketing and business development leadership role. He found a home at Verint, along with most of the other folks from Witness, and worked his way up in the management ranks. Greg was a smart guy and a hard worker. Obviously, that wasn’t lost on the executives at Verint.
Greg was an integral thread in the tapestry that has become Verint’s customer engagement business unit. I know from personal experience with them over the years that this group within Verint is a tight-knit family and Greg was a friend, mentor, coach, leader and confidant, among many other things, to the people he worked with.
“Greg was part of the Verint work family for more than 15 years and has been instrumental in our customer advisory board, executive summits and many other customer-facing activities. He built authentic relationships, took joy in our customers’ successes and loved working in partnership,” shared Ryan Hollenbeck, SVP, global marketing, Verint. “Greg was always someone who was smart, kind and adventurous. Whether it was working, fishing, kayaking or running together, he was always rallying the team.”
Bill Durr first met Greg when Blue Pumpkin, the company Bill worked for, was acquired by Witness Systems in 2005. They both stayed with the company following the Verint acquisition of Witness, working together on a number of projects. Bill recalls a memorable presentation he and Greg did together during this period.
“There was one particular meeting in which a potential Japanese business partner contingent visited Witness’ office in Georgia,” Durr explained. “Multiple people were scheduled to deliver product and market presentations and Greg and I were among them. We were all seated in a large conference room. As is the usual case, the Japanese contingent spoke passably good English but would often have discussions among themselves in Japanese. When Greg’s turn to present came up, he flashed his usual Opie Taylor grin and began his presentation in fluent Japanese. The look on the faces of the Japanese business people was priceless. They were simply stunned to discover that Greg—a most typical looking American—was fluent in their language and had understood their sidebar discussions.”
“When you were friends with Greg, it was a lifetime deal,” added Anne Patton, VP communications at Verint. “I loved how when friends changed careers and/or lost their jobs, the way he not only helped them but proactively sought them out. Greg spent countless hours of his personal time working with them to lighten their spirits, build their resumes, update their LinkedIn profiles, and help them dig down to pull out their best work, biggest achievements and most unique qualities. Greg always invested in people—he was present and in-the-moment in all of his relationships. He inspired so many to go out, live bigger, do more and expand their horizons.”
Shared Janine Stephan, senior communications specialist at Verint, “Greg was a colleague, friend, mentor and ‘work dad’ to many of us progressing in our careers. I learned something new almost every time we spoke. He was among the best men I’ve ever known. He lifted up everyone around him, always made us laugh with his ‘dad jokes’ and made us strive to be better with his wisdom and advice. Greg was the person we could go to for anything. He knew how to live, and he seized every day.”
Greg’s friendship extended to those beyond his office. Matthew Storm, Director of Product Management at OpenText Qfiniti, has fond memories of a dinner spent with Greg at an industry event a few years ago. At the time, Matt was working for NICE and rumors of something going on between NICE and Verint kept bubbling up within industry gossip circles. Matt and Greg had known each other for some time, and at the end of the day, they decided to have dinner together. Matt took a couple of NICE folks with him, and Greg brought a couple of his Verint colleagues.
While the Verint and NICE folks were having dinner together, a big-time analyst from a big-name analyst firm walked into the restaurant and saw what he thought was a Verint/NICE confab in progress. Mr. Analyst assumed he was witnessing a major industry acquisition in the making and said as much as he approached the table. Neither Greg nor Matt said anything to make him think otherwise. Just that grin.
Greg was a dedicated family man, leaving behind a family he adored—his wife and two children. He loved hiking, mountain biking, fishing and kayaking, and traveling with his family, adventuring to cities around the globe. His parents live out in my part of the world, in Arizona, and he would visit them often. I told him many times we should get together for an hour while he’s visiting his parents and he could write the whole thing off as a business trip. He never took me up on my slightly devious scheme. Now I wish I’d pushed him a bit harder to meet with me during his trips to Arizona, but in hindsight, I think Greg was right in keeping work life and family life separate.
Greg leaves an industry void that will be hard to fill, and his colleagues at Verint have a long road ahead in healing. But they’re a family, and I know they’ll comfort each other and carry on his passion for Verint’s customers and the industry.
While the loss of Greg is heartbreaking for his family, friends and co-workers, it is also a sad occasion for the contact center industry as a whole. Greg was an influence for good in the industry. He was a truly decent, honest guy at a time when the industry could really use more people like him, not fewer.
Back in 2015, I wrote a column in this magazine titled, “Roy, Gene, Dan and Me.” (Contact Center Pipeline, September 2015). The topic of that column was another Verint employee, CEO Dan Bodner. I was inspired to interview him after hearing his keynote at Verint’s Engage customer conference and left with the impression that he was a truly decent guy and, by extension, Verint was a great place to work.
Greg and Verint fit together like a hand to a glove. His legacy at Verint will be one of leaning in, investing in others, lending a happy helping hand, keeping the customer at the heart of the business, and bringing out the best in one another.
Greg Sherry represented the best of the best in the contact center industry. I know I speak not only for myself but for many, many others when I say he will be profoundly missed.