Calvin Donly - August 2015

Calvin Donly
Ellen Philip Associates


My Role at Ellen Philip Associates

Back in 1979 I joined Ellen Philip in forming the company, with the initial goal of providing data processing services focused on corporate reorg. We were partners at the time in a business in a completely different field, and a new opportunity had been identified to us by a friend who knew of Ellen’s programming background. 

In opening the doors we faced, in effect, the task of assembling a jigsaw puzzle with dynamic, moving parts. Ellen’s prime role was operations – to understand the nature of what had to be done, and to get it done. My role, as I saw it, and as it unfolded over the years, was to piece together and solidify a structure around her – a structure consisting of people, systems, equipment and business alliances that would enable operations to be conducted in the most effective way. Communication of one sort or another has always been one of my prime responsibilities.

Why I am a member of the SSA

As part of a crash course aimed at developing an understanding of the industry we found ourselves working in, we joined the Corporate Transfer Agents Association (CTAA), forerunner of the SSA.  It was one of the best, long-standing investments we ever made. 

With membership in an organization whose spirit lives on in the SSA, isolation ended. We found ourselves in an impressive group of professionals who conducted themselves in a cordial and non-pretentious way. The cooperative atmosphere we found ourselves in enabled us to reach out for information and know-how in a way that simply hadn’t been possible before.

Apart from the pleasure of friendships that have lasted for many years I have the comfort of knowing that through the SSA I’m plugged into an early-warning system.  I know that through its programs the SSA will make sure that I’m not blindsided by any major event that might have an impact on my business – whether it be legislation or some arcane aspect of data security.

A little Bit About Me

I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, a city perched on top of what’s probably the richest goldfield the world has ever known. My first job out of high school, before I decided what I was going to try to do with my life, was swinging a sledgehammer in the stamp mill of a goldmine, the place where the extraction process started, from chunks of rock that had been hauled to the surface. The noise was deafening - so loud that speech was impossible. All conversation took place in a species of sign language.

College wasn’t an option for me. Vocational guidance didn’t exist. All I could think of was some form of writing, and eventually I got to speak to one of the bigwigs at The Star, Johannesburg’s leading newspaper. He promised me a slot in a training program for cub reporters that was opening in about six months’ time – providing, by then, I could write shorthand at 120 words a minute. To accomplish this, and I did, working night shift, I became the only male enrollee at a school for secretaries. 

Fast forward about 15 years, I’m in New York City, having graduated from New York University, and with stints at the New York Times behind me. I’d made my decision to leave journalism in order to try something entrepreneurial. 

In my spare time I enjoy reading, travel and photography.

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