Zaloni’s CEO, Susan Cook shared this with our colleagues today:
Dear Zaloni Family,
With tears of both sadness and gratitude, I have to tell you that our dear friend and former CFO, Manoj George, has passed away. The profound sadness we feel is because he was such a wonderful person and dear friend. But, also gratitude. Every person that knew Manoj would say the same thing – we are all blessed having worked with and known him. He was truly an angel on this earth and made everyone around him better.
I only knew Manoj for the last two years. We met in the Fall of 2019 when he was Zaloni’s CFO and interviewed me for the role of CEO. It was one of the toughest interviews I have ever experienced. Manoj asked me questions that I had never been asked and certainly was not prepared to answer. He was relentless in telling me that “CEO is the loneliest job” and asking if I was prepared to face the most difficult decisions on my own. He wanted to know how I would balance this demanding job but still put my family first. He asked me all about my two teenage daughters. He asked me about my faith — I had never been asked about THAT in an interview before! He asked me about my core values as a leader and as a person. I accepted the job based upon that in-depth personal interview with Manoj, knowing that he would be at my side as a mentor and my partner. After all, Manoj had been at Red Hat and a number of other start-ups — he was one of the most accomplished and experienced CFO’s I had ever met.
It was only later that I realized Manoj put me through such a grueling interview because he was looking out for Zaloni, and for me. On that very morning immediately before our interview, he had just received a diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It still amazes me that, even after receiving such devastating news, he spent his entire morning interviewing me. In hindsight, I realize he was mentoring and preparing me from that first moment I met him.
Over the last two years, we grew closer because I would often seek out his advice and coaching. We would sit on his front porch having tea and just talk about anything and everything. When I had a sticky situation to present to the Board, his guidance was “trust your instincts — you know your company better than anyone.” Manoj’s advice was simple, “Lead with your heart, Susan — they will trust you and follow you.” He would invariably provide the most relevant advice and profound insights, passionately and emphatically, but in the most gentle and soothing voice. And, he was always right.
Manoj never wanted to talk about business until he had asked about my family. He would say, “Please tell me all about your daughters — how are they handling the transition to college this year?” Even in the midst of his monumental personal battle, he never failed to remember my kids’ names and wanted to know all about them. He always, always practiced what he preached about putting family first.
Manoj’s professional accomplishments are too many to list here. He had an incredibly successful career as a CFO at companies like Red Hat, Art.com, Tear Science (acquired by J&J), ChannelAdvisor and was even CEO of his own company. You will not find a more liked and respected person in our business. But, what Manoj would consider his greatest accomplishment is his family. His lovely wife and his four amazing kids were a source of pride and what he loved to talk about the most. I had the great honor of spending time with his family these last couple of years. Believe me when I say that his kids will rule the world some day — they are all incredibly gifted academically but, more importantly, they have the hearts, faith and conviction of their parents.
Heaven is a brighter place today but we are heartbroken to say goodbye to our dear friend. Rest In Peace, Manoj. You have left all of us better for having known you.
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