I am saddened by the news that Geoff Penney has died. I worked at Schwab with Geoff from 1997 until his retirement in 2004. I thoroughly enjoyed working both with and for him, and valued him so much for what I learned from him. I watched him develop as a leader, and one who was willing to share with me from his experience. Some lessons were on the order of what not to do, but many were things he coached me on in our one-on-one interactions.

Geoff was direct – sometimes abrupt – but I always knew he had good intentions, and there was never a question of where he stood on a topic. He challenged me from the start, even calling me on vacation to make sure we were aligned on something my team had to deliver for his project. Whether as a peer or my boss, he made his expectations clear, but gave me the support I wanted and room to deliver.

He clearly loved technology, and it was a joy to see him wade in to technical detail with staff at all levels, even when he was CIO. I’d see their faces light up, knowing that this very senior person valued their work.

We had our share of laughs, and experienced occasional cultural and language differences – like when he had to spend quite a bit of time describing the significance and context of the “broad, sunlit uplands” to us – necessary, in his view, for us to create our team vision.

Geoff gave me an enormously challenging assignment with the instructions to “do whatever I needed to do to make this happen, but don’t slow down”. I had the feeling he was Henry V and I was one of the soldiers headed to battle on St. Swithin’s Day during that conversation. He retired during that assignment and it was my last role at Schwab. I missed him a great deal, but learned in the years since to enjoy his annual newsletter about things he was learning and doing, and trips he and his family were taking. His version of retirement seemed to me the right way to go about it. I hope to continue learning from him.

My condolences to the whole Penney family.

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