Ambassador Heffern’s address to mission employees

Award Ceremony (as prepared)

Thanks, Amanda, and thanks to everyone for joining us for this event.

Embassy Yerevan has a first rate team – in every section, in every way. The place always looks great.  Our visitors always have smooth and productive visits.  We are succeeding in pushing our message domestically and regionally in many creative and meaningful ways.

Secretary Clinton just thanked all of us for our “outstanding assistance” during her recent visit.  I totally agree – it was an outstanding job from every section of the mission.

My basic message today is about our mission – not the building or the people, but our goals here in Armenia.  Secretary Powell taught the Dept. of State a lot about this word, this concept. Focus on your mission, he told us, not your job. He gave a great example to demonstrate what he meant. One day, he led a group of international military officers to visit the Empire State Building.  He was talking to one of the staff there, a custodian, or a janitor, and asked him what he did there. The custodian replied – “I do whatever I can to make the Empire State Building the best, most attractive tourist attraction in the city of New York.” He did not say, “I pick up trash, or clean the elevators.” He understood his mission; he did not focus on his job.

Another example.

In Indonesia, I visited a national park to look at birds.  I hired a park warden there to show me around. As we drove in, our car went around a big rock in the middle of one of the roads in this park – his park. He made no motion to stop the car and move the rock. I asked why not?  He said his job is park warden, not rock- picker-upper. Totally missed the point about his mission and focused only on his job. What does this mean for us here?  Our mission here is to deepen our partnership with Armenia in any sector that we can, based on our shared values – respect, professionalism, honesty, fairness. That mission includes everyone in this atrium today.

Every visitor should have a good experience coming here. Every visa customer – even if they do not get the answer they want – should be treated with respect and dignity.  Every meeting we have or message we put out needs to reinforce this mission and these goals. It means everyone – even those at the top – should pick up plastic bottles they see in the parking lot. It means everyone – no matter what their job – should pass on ideas about how to save money, save energy, partners who are doing interesting things.

So, thanks to all of you for what you have done this past year.  Thanks for what you do here every day.

Congratulations to our award winners today.