yolanda hunte leader assistant podcast

Yolanda Hunte has been an Executive Assistant for over 28 years. Currently Yolanda is the practice administrator for the Global Head of Cybersecurity at Wipro.

In this episode, Yolanda talks about changing how the world sees assistants, helping executives and other team members understand the significance of what an EA brings to an organization, and what makes an assistant a leader.


It always seems impossible until it’s done.
– Dr. Nelson Mandela


yolanda hunte leader assistant


Yolanda Hunte is an enthusiastic advocate for leadership and has served as a council member for the Ambitious Women Conference where she has collaborated with female colleagues in sales and marketing helping to organize, mentor and motivate other women.

Yolanda has also served as Co-Chair of the Women’s Leadership Network, a Guardian Life Insurance company employee resource group. In a hybrid context, arranging and running lunch and learn events. She has worked with various senior leaders at Guardian on issues such as work-life balance, emotional intelligence, and effective leadership communication approaches.

Yolanda has been an Executive Assistant for over 28 years. Currently Yolanda is the practice administrator for the Global Head of Cybersecurity at Wipro. In this role Yolanda is focused on supporting her executive and his directs by learning about the business needs, connecting with her executive’s directs and attending meetings to stay tuned to what her team and organization needs.

In addition to supplying support to her executive Yolanda is passionate about supporting her EA colleagues and encouraging them when they need an ear. Teaching and training other EAs about tips that can help others in their EA journeys. She holds a bi-weekly connect with her East Coast EAs to give them a safe place to discuss challenges and share talents and solutions.

Along with her EA endeavors Yolanda is the Chair to Wipro Women in Cyber where she is focused on helping people come together to train, endorse, mentor, and inspire women to take a leap of faith in the Cybersecurity space. Currently she is rolling out a Spotlight series for internal and external powerhouse guests to speak on different topics such as philanthropy, AI and taking care of oneself.

Yolanda holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on Applied Behavioral Analysis and has her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. As a mother of six children and grandmother to one rambunctious six-year-old, she is committed to set the example that leadership begins at home, with and through your children. Yolanda states that being a mother has been and continues to be her greatest teacher.

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Yolanda Hunte 0:00
Hi my name is Yolanda Hunte and I’m an executive assistant and I work with Wipro. And my all time favorite quote is actually by Dr. Nelson Mandela. And it states it always seems impossible until it’s done.

Podcast Intro 0:20
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants

Jeremy Burrows 0:35
are you tasked with ordering food for your office? Let me tell you about ezCater with over 100,000 restaurants to choose from nationwide and 24/7 customer support. EzCater helps assistants like you and me succeed at work and makes our lives easier. Visit ezcater.com/leaderassistant to find out more. Hey friends, welcome to The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s episode 230. And this is your host, Jeremy Burrows. And I am under the weather my voice is a little bit lower and raspier than usual. So maybe that’s good. Maybe that’s bad, but it is what it is. And we’re gonna roll with it today. But I’m very excited in this episode. Like I said, Episode 230 You can check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/230 Leaderassistant.com/230 and today I’m speaking with Yolanda Hunte. Yolanda has been an executive assistant for over 28 years. Currently, she’s a practice administrator for the Global Head of cybersecurity at Wipro and Yolanda welcome to the show.

Yolanda Hunte 1:49
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Jeremy Burrows 1:53
Awesome. Well, what part of the world are you in?

Yolanda Hunte 1:56
I’m actually in Pennsylvania.

Jeremy Burrows 1:59
Okay. And are you from there? Did you migrate there?

Yolanda Hunte 2:03
Um, yeah. So we migrated. My family and I migrated here about nine years ago. Originally we are from Brooklyn, New

Jeremy Burrows 2:12
York. Cool. Cool. And what’s your favorite hobby? And do you have any pets or kids?

Yolanda Hunte 2:20
So I am a proud mother of six children. I’m a grandmother of a active six year old. My kids range from 30 years old, all the way down to 15. I have four boys, four girls, and two boys. We have two dogs. Our latest addition is Leila. She’s a Rottweiler. She’s about 12 weeks old and then our dogs Zeus will be 10 in September. And he is a Eurasia which many don’t when I say that they’re not really familiar with the breed. And the breed is actually from Germany. It’s a mix of a German Spitz Samoyed and I’m in a Ciao ciao. So he kind of looks like a lion. He’s the wonderful dog. Just so sweet. I love big dogs. And we have a couple of fish that my husband is obsessed with. He loves us. He loves saltwater tanks. So, yeah,

Jeremy Burrows 3:21
I actually used to work in the pet department at Walmart, which is funny side note is I’ve never had a pet in my life, but put me in the pet department at Walmart. And I would sell dog food and all that, but they also had goldfish tanks and beta fish. And they were not saltwater tanks, but lots of marine life in aisle at Walmart back in my high school days. So that was fun times. Oh, that’s pretty cool. And I love how you said an active six, six year old, great granddaughter, granddaughter as if there is six year olds out there that are inactive. But you know, I still I still get that that was highlighted. I understand.

Yolanda Hunte 4:06
Well, I guess because most of my kids are grown.

Jeremy Burrows 4:10
I mean, it used to be Yeah,

Yolanda Hunte 4:12
I mean, they’re active in different ways. You know, I’m not used to when my granddaughter’s around, it’s kind of like her nickname for me. It’s lovey. That’s what she calls me. She doesn’t call me grandma. My daughter specifically came up with this name. She’s like, You’re too young to be a grandma. And I don’t want her calling me grandma. So she came up with the name lovey. And so when she’s around, well, thank you, but she’s around, you know, she’s just like, lovey, what are we gonna do? Like, you know, and you know what I’m working. She’s like, Luffy, what are you doing? You have so many monitors, and you’re clicking away like Mommy does. And I’m like, you don’t know it, but your mother and I secretly run the world. Because really, you know, and I’m like, Yeah, really? Like we run the world. Just lucky, you know? She just like starts laughing. That’s awesome. A keyboard and the screens, you know, and it’s just like moving all these documents around because my, my daughter, she kind of does a similar role. She works for a solar company and she does. She’s an inspection cord maker. So versus I don’t envy her role, but um, you know, very logistically consuming, let’s just put it that way. Right.

Jeremy Burrows 5:33
Cool. Well, what, what got you into the assistant role back in the day?

Yolanda Hunte 5:40
Um, well, I first started as a receptionist at a company called SP, Ally, USA, it was a life insurance company. It was located on 34th Street in Manhattan. And I found myself just always, you know, being the point person, you know, either kind of sending someone one direction, you know, helping somebody connect with it or security. And I really liked that. Just that part of my day, where I was able to, like kind of connect with people and solve their problems. There was a opening for an executive assistant, and I applied for it, and I got it. And then that kind of shifted my world because I was no longer the front of the organization. And I was in the back. And so I remember there was this woman, her name is Judy D’Amico, I will never forget her name as long as I live. And she was this slim, adorable, beautiful woman. But she was very, how can I called very quick, witty, and she didn’t take a mess. She was just kinda like, she was very How can I describe her? The way she looked, and the way she acted were kinda like, in contrast of one another. And so I kind of thought she was just like, the sweet, you know, easygoing, but she was like a drill sergeant. But I thank God for her because she was the one that kind of gave me my solid grounding as an EA. And because of her, I learned a lot of great skills. And I began my my role as an executive assistant. I then went to other companies, media companies, financial companies, then merged into legal companies. And then ultimately, and so it companies.

Jeremy Burrows 7:46
Nice. So what, what’s been your favorite industry to work in? Oh, that’s

Yolanda Hunte 7:52
a hard one. You know, I have to say, truly media. At one point, I supported a senior vice president for a media company, it was a subsidiary of Qualcomm. And what I liked about it was that I had my hands in everything. I was the office manager, I supported her, you know, I reviewed budgets. You know, I connected with her, you know, her family, I kind of had the same everything. And I liked it every day brought something different to the role. It wasn’t like, Okay, today, I’m going to do Excel sheets. And that’s it. You know, every day, there was something new, there was a new person to me, there was a new meeting, there was a new business, you know, new part of the business to learn. There were new skills to learn. And I really liked that. And it made me uncomfortable, but uncomfortable in a way, where I was excited, I felt almost kind of like being on a roller coaster ride. The days went by quickly. But I would say like, every day, I could go to sleep and say, I earned my paycheck today. You know, I felt very accomplished. And, you know, every position that I have gone to, I’ve always tried to look at the position and say, I’m coming in with X skills, but I want to walk out with Y Z skills. I always want to come out better than when I left in our value being added to me, but also me adding value to others as well.

Jeremy Burrows 9:36
Yeah, that’s great. So let’s talk a little bit about the your current role. Very large company. I’m looking here on LinkedIn and Wipro, has 1000s of employees have the right

Yolanda Hunte 9:51
to be exact. I believe we have between 250,000 to 290,000. We’re a global company. As the company originated in India, it’s been around for 75 years. They are a technical company. However, it didn’t start off as a tech company, it started off with kind of household items like oil, and items such as that, and then it kind of morphed into this big behemoth that is today. And we are global. And yeah, it’s it’s a very exciting role. It’s definitely stretched me in different ways that I wasn’t aware that I could be stretched, but in good ways, a work for a leader that he doesn’t look at me as an EA, you know, when we have conversations, he’s like, you’re not my EA, you’re, you’re a leader, you’re my business partner, like I talked to you the same way I would talk to one of my senior managers, you know, your, your thoughts, and your ideas, and suggestions are very much needed for us to grow our business. And having discussions with him along with other members of our team, it really inspires me to really do more and be more creative, and be present, more so than anything. That’s great.

Jeremy Burrows 11:22
So what, what’s maybe throughout your career, what’s one of the defining moments or maybe challenging times or maybe even funny, crazy stories throughout your your career as an assistant that you’d want to share with those listening?

Yolanda Hunte 11:45
I would say it would be working for the chief legal officer of Morgan Stanley. Um, his name was Mr. Kemp. And that’s what we called him. His full name is Don Kemp. And at the time that I supported him, he was already kind of like in his like, probably mid 60s, maybe late 60s. But his age didn’t slow him down in any in any manner of the word. He was very organized. He told great stories, he was a Marine, and he was very proud to let you know that. What I loved about him, and what many people didn’t like about him was his candor. Mr. Kemp was kind of straight from the hip, you knew where you stood with him. And if he wasn’t pleased with you, he would let you know. If he was pleased with you, he will let you know too. But he didn’t exhaust it. Meaning if he was upset with you, and he, you did something that wasn’t pleasing to Him, He would just say, you messed up, you messed up big and you need to fix it. And that would be it. If you did something great, he would be like, brilliant, you did a great job. And let’s move on to next. It wasn’t something where he celebrated forever. And it wasn’t something that he harped on forever, if you if you made a mistake. And I liked that from him. It you know, at that time, when I supported him, I was about 25 years old. It was my first time having a really senior role as an executive assistant. And he was he showed me through his actions and his daily behavior of what it took to run such a large entity of a business. One of the things that I thought was really key was that he valued writing letters to people he that he spoke to. So if he had a lunch with you have breakfast, the meeting any kind of connection, there was a letter that was going to follow that, and it would, you know, have a similar conversation such as, Hey, Jeremy, it was really great to see you, you know, I really liked our conversation, you know, the suggestions that you made. And you know, let’s follow up on that, you know, please stay in touch. And you know, I send my best to your family. And he would give that to you, right? And there would be, you know, some corrections back and forth. But the rule of thumb was that that letter had to be mailed out no later than 4pm that day. And if it wasn’t, Oh, you were in trouble. You were in trouble, like, he was going to hit the roof. And I understood why. Because for him, that was his way of building relationships. This could be somebody that he was going to face in court. This could be somebody that he’s known for many years. This could be somebody that he just met, um, it didn’t matter what the relationship was, it was just important to him. And he taught me kind of like, I guess, the beginning steps of networking. And I really appreciated that and just watching him, how he would operate, how he would talk to his directs. Um, Another person that was really influential at that time and I still speak to her till this day, she was the chief operating officer of his business. And I loved her as well. She was the same way Italian short, spunky. And, you know, very direct and I was okay with that. And I remember I, when I got I graduated and got my bachelor’s and I was sitting in her kitchen, my husband and I, and I said to her, I said, you know, Lisa, what convinced you to hire me? You know, like, I was really Junior for the position, you know, what did you see me? And she said, you really want to know? And I said, Yeah, she goes, Well, it was the way you want. You walk, like you have some way to go, you walk like you had conviction. She said, You didn’t mosey down, you know, as you were coming down the hall, when you walked away, you walked away, like I have somewhere to go, I have things to do. And she said, and that is what I was looking for. She was like, it was the way you carried yourself. And she said I was writing about you. She said, every day you came to work, you came to work with a purpose. And I mean, look at you now, you know, you’re getting your bachelor’s, you know, and you’re still I recently got my Master’s and I had a conversation with her. And she’s like, Yolanda, you keep going. She’s like, I told you, I’m right about you. She said that it’s the walk. And you know, we laugh about it till this day. But just to see that growth, you know, from being 25 years old to now being 47. Right. And just to see that growth, and to see those individuals, you know, that have taught me indirectly and directly. It’s really humbling.

Jeremy Burrows 16:43
Nice, nice. Yeah, that’s great. Sounds like some fun, fun executives to work for for sure.

Yolanda Hunte 16:51
Yeah, definitely.

Jeremy Burrows 16:53
Well, let’s, let’s talk about the way the world in general sees executive assistants, Administrative Professionals. And, you know, you mentioned when we connected about being on the show, you mentioned how you’re passionate about changing how the world sees assistance in helping executives and other team members and employees understand the significance of what we as assistants bring to an organization. So tell us about your mission or your vision to change how the world sees executive assistants, and maybe maybe just start with how do you feel that they do the world does generally see assistants? And how do you want them to see change their tone?

Yolanda Hunte 17:47
Um, well, first I’ll begin with, um, you know, usually when I go somewhere, and I tell someone, when I, you know, what I do professionally, I get either kind of two reactions. One reaction is Oh, like, okay, no, surprise. And then the other is like, oh, you know, kind of, like, it’s not that big of a deal, kind of, you know, response. And either one is, it doesn’t sit well with me. Um, and when I think about organizations, and when we focus on what, you know, any great company has been able to establish, and you know, even in reading your book, the one thing and the one message that I know, when I share with anybody that’s trying to grow the business organization or team is that you need an anchor, you need someone that’s going to ground you that’s going to help focus you that’s going to take away the things that you don’t want to do or focus on so that you can do what you enjoy. And that’s an AE, right? That’s an assistance. And if you have a good assistant, they are going to be looking at your business in a 360 kind of way. Right? Um, I remember supporting my sister at one point. Well, she’s an executive director for Mary Kay. And she’s always had personal assistants always had executive assistants, and at that time, I wasn’t working. And she needed some help. Just getting her personal and her business life together. And I remember working with her and she stopped for a moment. She said, You know, I’ve had many assistants, but I’ve never quite seen what someone walked away that you do. And I looked at her confused and I said, Well, what do you mean she goes, You are so focused, you know your you know what I need before I need it. So well, I said I think I said I think that’s more on picking up on just paying attention to you surroundings, right? Understanding the person’s personality, understanding what the business is, and all of those things will give you clues to how executive assistant can help. Right? I think understanding what’s important to that person, you know, I could support you and then support somebody else. And what’s important to you is it’s going to differ from what’s important to that person. And so, as an assistant, I think, really paying attention to the details and understanding the person’s personality. And what’s important to the business and marrying all those concepts and elements is really what helps an executive system be amazing, right? And then you see results. Because now things are getting done. And now things are moving, because that executive gets to really focus on their, their secret power, right, their superpower, you know, and so when I think about anybody trying to grow their business, you know, so many people are like, if it weren’t for my assistant, I wouldn’t be able to do this, like, they just tell me where I need to be. They tell me what I need to say. They informed me they update me, you know, and so the executive assistant position is really seen as a secretary, right? And no matter what the title is, it’s not to demean it a secretary is still amazing to because they’re doing the same things. But it’s seen in a way where you’re like, Oh, you just do like clerical work, and you don’t do anything that’s really important. You’re not a real leader. But really, you know, when I think about what I do every day, and, you know, when we have these meetings, it’s like, Well, who do you have to go through, you have to go through the gatekeeper to get time on a big executives calendar? Right. So, you know, when you think about that, am I really not a leader? You know, I’m, I’m having a conversation, and I’m getting the information from you. I’m on. Um, I’m letting you know, like, Okay, well, what is this meeting about? Can you give me more details? You know, how does this make? How is this efficient for my boss? You know, does it make sense for this person to meet with my boss, you know, and I don’t always give an answer right away, I let them know, you know, I’ll take it into consideration when I meet with my executive, I’ll come back to you. And I’ll let you know the options. It doesn’t mean No, it doesn’t mean yes, it just means, you know, I have to have a conversation first, before we make this this decision, right? Because there are other factors that I have to take into consideration. And I do that, because I want people to know that there’s a lot of thought, and, you know, logistics and maneuvering that goes into just making even just one meeting, because they’re not the only one asking for that meeting. There’s so many other things that are going on that person is traveling, they have to balance their family time, right? What’s important to that executive, my executive, he he treasures his time with his family. When I first started with him, he was joking one day, he said, My wife is asking me why I don’t have meetings in the in the evening anymore. And I said, That’s not necessary. The only time that’s necessary is when it’s really time sensitive. I said, I will make an exception. I said, but I said you start your day at seven in the morning? I’m sorry, no, we’re not doing. No, you’re gonna have your time so that you can spend time with your family. Why? Because when they grow up, you can get that time back. Right? For me time, time is priceless. And so what I want to do is I want to be able to manage time so that I can give them back the time. So that’s why EAS are very important. You know, they’re giving the time back, they’re managing time, they’re making sure that the right people are being connected to the right. Other individuals in the right places at the right time, right. Timing is everything when you talk about an organization or leadership for that matter. Right. So we’re at the we’re the nucleus at the end of the day where the foundation and so I think there should be some respect with that. You know, yeah,

Jeremy Burrows 24:23
that’s great. Well said. So, you know, I was looking at your, your bio, and you know, I’ll put the put your full bio in the show notes, leader assistant.com/ 230 For those listening, if they want to check that out. But you know, you’ve got your bachelor’s degree in psychology and then your master’s degree in organizational leadership, is that right? Yes, that’s correct. So, you know, it’s a pretty, pretty fun, interesting combination leadership and psychology. So I really want to hear What is your maybe what’s one takeaway from your psychology, the psychology portion of your education that you maybe applied to, or that helped you in your assistant career?

Yolanda Hunte 25:16
This sure, um, so when I was originally going to college, I started with computer science, believe it or not, at the time, it was the thing to do. Once I got into my programming classes, I was like, Yeah, this is not for me, I’m miserable. And I don’t want to do this anymore. So I took a break, in between that break, had a couple of babies. And after my last baby, I was like, That’s it, I gotta go back and get my bachelor’s. And so, you know, when I was making the decision, I said, I want to do something that’s really going to help me in the longevity of my career, but that’s also gonna be fun. Um, and I thought about psychology and I research and I saw, I was always interested in forensics. But then this new type of psychology was coming out, and it was called Applied Behavioral Analysis. Forensics was more kind of like medicine, you know, kind of almost, chemistry bio, and all of that I’m allergic to. And so I was just like, This is not for me. And so with applied behavioral analysis, it was more my lane, a focusing on one’s behavior, their they, their personality. And so, you know, a good portion of being an executive assistant is really understanding the personality of your executive, you know, not everyone you’re going to agree with, you’re gonna get along with, you’re going to gel with However, you still have to be professional and, and learn how to support them. I’ve realized throughout my my tenure as a executive assistant that I only have control over what I control, there’s certain things that I don’t control, and I can’t beat myself up about that. And so the psychology portion has kind of helped me have a different mindset. And number one, dealing with, I would say, difficult executives, and also balancing what I need as an EA, so that I don’t burn out so that I can be with my family, so that I can have that work life balance, so that I can come to work, ready, willing and able to support my executive and firing on all cylinders, you know, changing behavior, looking at how one may come in one day, and just noticing just different things, I’ve been able to pick up on things because of that degree with my last position I worked for a gentleman who oversaw the infrastructure. He oversaw all of the what is the calls, I’m literally having a blank right now, no worries for the name, but it was related to data analytics and infrastructure for it. And so we would have these meetings. And so there was certain questions that he would ask, and after the meeting, he would, you know, meet with me and he was like, you know, I saw you looking at John, on Why were you looking at him as well. He wasn’t being honest about the answer. He was providing. I said, based on, you know, his facial gesture based on his body language, he was being dishonest and he was lying to you, he was giving you lip service. I said, you know, I think you need to dig, dig a little deeper in that and really have a one on one, maybe you putting him on the spot, or, you know, calling on him in the meeting, and made him feel uncomfortable. He felt like he needed to, you know, answer in a certain way that didn’t either embarrass him or embarrass you. I said, but if you want to, you know, like, honest answer, I think you need to ask him on your one on one, you know, face to face where there’s no audience, and he would not and you know, he come back to me and say, you know, how did you know that? And I was like, you know, it you have to pick up on certain people. So you know, a lot of people don’t realize that I’m an introvert. I like being behind the scenes I have learned to be more social. However, my social media, my social interaction thrives more on a one on one connection. When I’m in a group setting. I can interact However, I’m not as boisterous juris, or connected as I would be in a one on one interaction. So noticing that, where is that person thriving more? Do they like to be around crowds? Or do they like to be by themselves so that they can be heads down and not speak to people? I think learning how people operate and how they want to work is really key when you have a team and I would, I would help my executive do that, you know, he would come to me, and he’s like, I’m trying to reorg some people like, what do you think about this person? And, you know, are you do you talk to this person, and I’d say, Well, I don’t know them. But this is the behavior I’ve seen, you know, this is what I’ve picked up on. You know, and so you might want to consider maybe asking them this, or maybe taking into consideration that. And it’s always helped move the team forward, move projects forward, and make people happier and build stronger connections. There was one thing that I created where we would have monthly connections, and my executive would sit in a conference room, and it would, it would be called, connect with Chris. And he would just sit there all day, and any person that wanted to connect with him or just talk to him, they would just be able to kind of like go in, and like talk to him, he wouldn’t sit in the office, he would take up like a whole conference room. And people just kind of kind of go in and out. And you know, sit down with him have access to him. And it made people see him in a different light. And it really helped his relationships with his team members. So I think that that degree really helped me pick up on those kind of behaviors and people in order to kind of like move forward, move the team forward and kind of help people be situated where they feel most comfortable. Yeah, that’s great.

Jeremy Burrows 31:55
So then, to kind of it’s been, this has been great conversation, by the way. Thank you appreciate all your your insight to kind of wrap wrap things up on the other side of your your master’s in organizational leadership. And then the question that I like to ask many of my guests here on the show. What makes an assistant a leader?

Yolanda Hunte 32:23
Yeah, that’s a really great question. Um, I think there are many factors and elements that make an assistant a leader, but I think the the, the one thing I would say that makes them a leader is listening and learning. Um, you know, I know some executive assistants that are really senior roles that I’ve worked with in the past. And I think the fatal mistake that they’ve made is that their title has defined them as a leader. And I truly don’t agree with that. Meanwhile, I have seen other assistants who were junior to the role step in, ask questions, want to get to know you build, build relationships, want to learn from you, and then come 360 around, then teach you and bring you into the fold? Those are individuals who I think are leaders. And so, um, I really just think that it’s it’s a characters not necessarily anything that at EA specifically has, I think it’s something that any person has, and I really just think it’s, you know, l&l, you know, listen and learn,

Jeremy Burrows 33:46
listen and learn, with great way to answer the question. Nice job. Awesome, Yolanda. Well, is there anywhere that people can reach out and connect and say hi to you?

Yolanda Hunte 34:00
Oh, yeah, I’m on LinkedIn. Um, you know, please feel free to just connect with me. Um, if you, I know that I think I have something on my connect where, um, I think you have to put an email in, you know, I would just suggest people just write a little notes, like maybe on one of my posts or anything and let me know that you want to connect and, you know, I’ll look for you and then we could connect that way. Okay.

Jeremy Burrows 34:29
Yeah, perfect. Well, thanks again. Yolanda. And, you know, best of luck to you and your career and with your family and your, your dogs and fish and all that fun stuff. And yeah, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you and hope to talk again soon.

Yolanda Hunte 34:46
Well, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. I had a lot of fun. And I hope you feel better and you get over your, your coals. Thank you.

Speaker 2 35:07
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Unknown Speaker 35:17


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