Over time, Raj Parikh’s reason for going on the Walk to Washington has changed.
As a young lawyer at Genova Burns 15 years ago, the Walk to Washington was an opportunity for Parikh to meet potential clients and connect with people. It’s morphed into an opportunity to solidify relationships with those people and to support the Chamber which, because “the changes they’ve implemented are really going to make it what it’s meant to be,” is important in Parikh’s eyes.
“The Walk to Washington provides a three-hour opportunity for touching base with many people, seeing old friends, and meeting people from different industries you otherwise may never meet. When I began in government service in the late 80s, we were as passionate about our positions as today, but recognized the need to always maintain a working relationship. The divide has become so great that we often forget that the reasonable can disagree; that getting something done is more important than convincing someone that they are wrong. The goal for the trip is to see if there might be room for a conversation. My best memories are of conversations with Gov. Byrne and when Cardinal Tobin shared his morning weight-lifting routine for Newark kids. I am pretty sure I would not have had another opportunity to make small talk with a Cardinal.”
– RWJBaranbas Executive Vice President, Chief Experience Officer Amy Mansue.
The changes he’s referring to are the establishment of a phone number where guests can immediately and discreetly report harassment to security and Chamber leadership, the disbursement of a code of conduct to Walk attendees, enhanced sexual harassment training for Chamber employees and the prohibition of hard alcohol on the train.
The changes were announced by the Chamber on Jan. 7 after a New Jersey Advance Media report in December included stories from the Walk to Washington in a broader piece on sexual harassment in state politics.
“I think having a code of conduct to make people think better and do better, and I think the Chamber themselves having set expectations of how they will operate and how others should behave, that’s all positive,” Parikh said. “I think they’ve listened…a very important part of conducting your own critical analysis is listening.
“Making changes in response to [self-critical] analysis is a positive thing. The broader business community should be supportive of that. One of the best ways to support them is to continue going on this trip and helping to create a positive environment,” Parikh said.
After all, the Walk has provided Parikh and others with connective opportunities many years over. Several years ago, Parikh met a representative for a solar company that not only used Genova Burns for work thereafter but turned into someone he considered a friend. Other years, he’s used the Walk to reinforce relationships with clients in government and in the lobbying community.
“In this age, we’re all so used to communicating with people through email. Forget telephone calls, people don’t even do that anymore. The art of meeting someone in person and having that direct connection with them, it doesn’t happen enough. The Walk to Washington gives that opportunity,” Parikh said.
The Chamber Train leaves the station Feb. 27, and our coverage begins in the Feb. 24 issue with a preview of the trip. It continues on the train with the NJBIZ Podcast; if you’re riding, stop by car No. 2 to meet members of our staff.
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- Sharper focus: CSG’s Dennis Toft thinks NJCC’s moves will make this year’s event even more useful
- First-time walker: NJMEP’s CEO on the benefits of the Walk to Washington
- Murphy, Menendez, Booker and Smith to headline annual #ChamberTrain dinner