Reflections on Leadership: What Would Sandy Do?

For more than a decade, our Chairman Sandy Werth Harbrecht Ratchford shared her thoughts in a monthly email on an array of important and topical issues. From the rise of AI and the role of ESG, to celebrating small wins and the underdog, Sandy enjoyed shining light on new perspectives and provoking healthy dialogues. 

In June of this year, we lost our firm’s beloved leader and my aunt, Sandy. I think of Sandy every single day and miss her terribly.

So many people have talked about her kindness, wisdom and grace of which she had in abundance. She led by example, demonstrating generosity, humility and hard work. My favorite memories of Sandy, however, are the ones showcasing her tenacity, her confidence and guts. She made the tough choices, she did what needed to be done, and she trusted her instincts even when others advised against it.

It was a different era in 1986 when Sandy took over for my grandfather. During one of our last serious conversations, she told me more about the challenges she faced in keeping the business going. Having spent most of her career as a schoolteacher, and as a woman in a male-dominated industry, she had her doubters. They were energized and ready to capitalize. At the same time, it was easy for her to doubt herself and believe that others knew better than she did. “But they didn’t,” she told me. “Trust in yourself.”

For 37 years, Sandy led our firm with a quiet confidence and steady hand. Sure, I will trust my instincts as she so intently encouraged me to do, but there will also always be a part of me that asks, “What would Sandy do?” I may not always follow the same path she would have, but her guts, her strength, her tenacity and determination will serve as a constant source of inspiration to face life’s challenges with unwavering resolve.