I’ve learned a lot under the leadership and direction of Wayne. Being in the newspaper industry for as long as he did, I learned very quickly how real AP style was, and it wasn’t just a lesson they taught us in college. I learned that, with some of Wayne’s grammar, punctuation and proofreading skills that I was actually a decent writer… and I was surprised to learn that I enjoyed it! I learned not to take any crap from anybody, because one of my weaknesses is I am (sometimes too much) the “yes man.” I learned that with the support and encouragement of my peers, I can do just about anything I set my mind to. I was asked to engage with young professionals, and to figure out a way to connect them in our community, thus I started #YoPros, and I had the support of our staff, our Board, and most importantly, my boss to move forward and keep the momentum going.
It hasn’t all been easy… let me tell you! I’ve learned that I can’t always get my way, and that compromise is very real in not only my personal life, but also my professional life. That was a valuable lesson learned. I’ve had some great talks with Wayne about plans for my future, where I see myself in 10 years, and we would exchange life advice (mostly from him to me, but sometimes the other way around). He constantly reminds me that I need to work to live, instead of live to work (much easier said than done when trying to make a name for yourself, let me tell you!). Most importantly, Wayne has taught me to pursue my dreams, never to settle, and to always remember to choose family and happiness above everything else.
When I first received an email back in 2014 from a guy named Wayne Oehmke regarding a potential position at the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce, I didn’t know I was entering what is otherwise known as “Wayne’s World.” The fearless leader of our Chamber, a family man, a community leader, and for lack of a better term, the world’s largest social butterfly I have ever met, among many, many other things. Everybody knows Wayne. The only guy I’ve ever met to come close to figuring out the role of Superman. Operating on approximately 5 – 6 hours of sleep per day, exercising, time for his family (especially the grandkids!), going up north, working full-time, involved in his church, courting a lovely lady and planning a wedding, community involvement, meetings on meetings, happy hours and “Miller Time” and the list goes on and on. I don’t know how he does it. But I am proud to call him my mentor, my friend and the best first boss I could have possibly imagined. I’m going to miss his witty sense of humor every day, but I absolutely wish him the best in all of the big life changes coming his way.
Thank you, Wayne, for more than 20 years of dedication to our Chamber and our communities. Thank you on behalf of our Chamber staff, Board of Directors, Ambassadors and Chamber members for your leadership and dedication to each and every one of us. Luckily, this isn’t really goodbye, because if I know you the way I think I do, I’m sure we’ll be seeing you around. You will be greatly missed at the Chamber, but never forgotten.