Earlier this week, Mark Sebba formally announced that he was stepping down from his role as CEO at online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter. In his statement, he expressed his conviction that the company he helped shape "is stronger than ever" and supported by a "world-class team."
Last month, Net-A-Porter employees around the globe conspired to prove his point.
The workforce staged a worldwide event to herald Sebba for his years of service. The international subterfuge began as Sebba arrived at company headquarters in London where he was greeted by hundreds of dancing employees holding posters and portraits of Sebba, plus a choir of gospel singers, a mariachi band, several headdress-wearing dancers, and a series of video messages from the Net-A-Porter offices in New York, New Jersey, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Charlton.
The elaborately coordinated effort was appropriately set to the tune of Aloe Blacc's "The Man," with revised lyrics (“It’s time to say job well done/you’re the best, you’re the greatest one”).
According to Executive Chairman and Founder of the Net-A-Porter Group, Natalie Massenet, a conventional celebration was out of the question: "We knew we didn't want to hold some awkward drinks party for him with a gift that he didn't want or need."
Instead, she and fellow executives opted to orchestrate "an amazing and personal tribute to this incredible man who has run our business for the last 11 years."
"We wanted him to feel how much we love him and give him the recognition he deserves--and to make him immortal in the digital world," she added.
Massenet confirmed that employees were so committed to the surprise that they even returned to their offices after hours to rehearse.
Despite the pageantry, Sebba managed to maintain his composure. At the end of the short clip, the unflappable leader is handed a steaming cup of coffee and a microphone: "Thank you very much, everybody. I'm a bit overwhelmed, but how about getting back to work?"
Massenet reported that Sebba "was blown away and super happy."
"[H]e just couldn't stop talking about it and thanking everyone. As he said on the film, he was overwhelmed."
- Society & Culture