This year’s subjects have found a home in our industry and are making their marks inside and outside their organizations.
There’s absolutely no question about it: The millennial generation, as well as those on its cusp, are significant forces to be reckoned with. We cannot emphasize that point enough, though throughout this feature, we will certainly substantiate it.
Last year, millennials (ages 20″“36 in 2017) in the U.S. surpassed baby boomers (ages 53″“79 in 2017) as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau. To provide you with a little perspective here, Generation X (ages 37″“52 in 2017) isn’t projected to surpass the baby boomers until 2028.
This year, we profile six industry professionals who fall into that millennial generation (or just outside or on the cusp of it, by the skin of their teeth). Of utmost significance, each one of these subjects we selected to feature in this story defies today’s stereotypes of workers from that group. They are ambitious, confident, passionate, and hard-working.
The business technology, managed services and imaging solutions industry was not a primary target for most of our Young Influencers’ job searches out of college, but all of them found themselves presented with opportunities across different segments of the industry that offered a place to grow and excel over time.
Most importantly, each of this year’s Young Influencers cited the importance of listening to the industry’s most-tenured executives. While they want their own ideas heard, they are ready and willing to hear lessons learned from hard-earned experience.
These Young Influencers were born and raised in a technology world. They are here to disrupt our industry in the best of ways, and just like most of us, they are excited about the future of this industry
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Amanda Byrne, Branch Manager, Davis Business Machines
Years in the business: 17
Three words that best describe Amanda: Busy, driven, passionate
Activity: Riding dirt bikes, camping, spending time with her family
Favorite movie: “Ever After”
Favorite food: Ribs and wings
Favorite music: Meghan Trainor, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Unique fact: Amanda is among the few women who know what a Rekluse clutch is.
When Amanda Byrne graduated from University of Montana with a business administration degree in marketing and management in 2000, her sights were set on moving to the West Coast to get a job with a big-city advertising agency. However, when her grandfather passed away, Amanda returned home to Great Falls, Montana, to temporarily help her father with the family’s water-well drilling business. After a few weeks, she was ready to look for something more permanent.
Knowing she wanted to get back to the marketing world, she took an ad sales job with the local radio station, which involved a fair amount of cold calling. As fate would have it, she rang up Davis Business Machines and spoke with Mike Murphy, then the branch manager.
Being a sales guy, it’s not surprising Murphy was soon selling Amanda on coming to work for him at Davis Business Machines. He worked all of the traditional angles to get her on board: She’d be selling a tangible product, she’d be great at it, and she’d make more money.
“I told him I had a pretty bad time with copiers, as in we didn’t get along at all,” said Amanda. “I think I broke every single copier at the University of Montana that I even came close to. Mike told me they had a whole team of service techs, so if I broke any, they’d fix them.”
The job’s perks””not having to sit in an office all day and being able to interact with different people””pulled Amanda in, even though she initially only committed three to five years to Davis Business Machines. That was 17 years ago.
“In this business, every single business out there has to move a piece of paper,” said Amanda. “There isn’t anybody who is excluded from buying from us.”
While Amanda didn’t have a technical background, it didn’t prevent her from excelling in her new sales role. When she joined Davis Business Machines, the industry was at a pivotal inflection point as it shifted from analog to digital, and it was somewhat intimidating to be out selling complex technology products. However, she made her struggle with technology a selling point with her customers.
“A lot of customers are wary of getting into new technology because there’s a learning curve,” said Amanda. “Change is hard for a lot of people, and I can empathize with that situation because I’ve been there. I understand not knowing how to operate a copier and think, is it going to bite? But, if you don’t think too hard, it’s not that hard to operate. And there are always service techs. They can fix anything!”
Amanda jumped right in to the fray with her customers, learning how to run the copiers she was selling by running jobs for her clients, gaining a thorough understanding of their workflow, and making herself an integral part of the solution to their pain points.
“If you know exactly what a customer is doing, why they’re doing it, and what they’re going to do with it when it’s done, it’s easier to get deeper into that customer’s business,” said Amanda.
Today, as the current branch manager for Davis Business Machines, Amanda spends less time out in the field selling and more time overseeing the day-to-day sales and services of her branch. She still steps in on major accounts, as well as with larger customers, conducts training, and manages personnel. At the end of the day, though, she is monitoring her P&L.
Amanda approaches all her tasks head on, thinking before she speaks, finding facts rather than pointing fingers””all in an effort to tackle issues before they become unruly.
“It’s easier to deal with lizards before they become dinosaurs,” said Amanda.
With nearly two decades of experience now, Amanda now seamlessly bridges two generations.
“I can identify with the older crowd and the younger crowd,” said Amanda. “I can talk up or down, depending on the peer set I’m presenting to. I also know what I’m doing and what our customers are doing. I know the business side and the tech side that has left some of the older generation in the dust. I’m in a unique position.”
By Sharon Tosto Esker
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Julie Italiano, Marketing Manager, Modern Office Methods (MOM)
Years in the business: 13
Three words that best describe Julie: Creative, detailed, and fun-loving
Favorite Activities: Traveling, going to concerts, and golfing
Favorite movie: “Zoolander”
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite music: A large variety, ranging from Elton John, Celine Dion, and Tom Petty to Beyonce and Jay-Z, Chainsmokers, and Gwen Stefani
Unique fact: By the end of 2017, Julie will have visited: Nevada, Florida, Ireland, France, the U.K., and Italy.
Modern Office Method’s Julie Italiano is a confident, passionate competitor. These traits set her apart in high school as she excelled on the golf team, catching the attention of Xavier University, which helped secure her a partial sports scholarship.
“I gained a sense of confidence from athletics at a young age,” said Julie. “I learned to perform well in front of people and was able to develop key leadership qualities.”
When she graduated from college in 2002, she took an internship with the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters (now the Cincinnati Masters) Tennis Tournament, in hopes that the internship would lead to a career in sports and athletics marketing. But interestingly enough, it was through this very internship Julie caught the eye of her future employer, Steve Bandy, co-owner and senior vice president of sales and marketing at Modern Office Methods (MOM) in Cleveland, Ohio.
On the day Julie was moving into a new apartment, having finishing a brief stint with Kraft/Nabisco in sales, Julie fortuitously answered a phone call from Bandy, who was reaching out to see if she’d be interested in interviewing on his marketing team at MOM. The call couldn’t have come at a better time, and Julie was more than enthusiastic about the opportunity.
“At 23 years old, I had just quit my job at Nabisco, I was moving into a new apartment complex, and I didn’t have a job, which really concerned my dad,” said Julie. But after several rounds of interviews at MOM, it turned out that Julie’s dad didn’t need to worry. Julie was hired as a marketing assistant at MOM in June 2004.
When Julie joined the MOM team, her primary responsibility was managing an outside marketing agency for the dealership. Confident she could add more value and save the company a significant amount of money, Julie asked to be trained on the Adobe Creative Suite. While she did initially encounter some resistance, her persistence ultimately paid off. After completing the training and proving her abilities and competence, she was able to bring all design work in-house to MOM, giving the company the freedom to design however it wanted, whenever MOM wanted it.
“After taking that big initiative, I showed I was capable of taking on more responsibilities and our executive team began trusting me with larger undertakings,” said Julie.
Today, Julie is responsible for all of MOM’s marketing and advertising efforts, including: client event coordination, email marketing campaigns, sponsorship negotiations, advertising buys, graphic design work, among other responsibilities. Additionally, she oversees the company’s digital footprint, including MOM’s website, social media accounts, and blog.
“I strive to put forth my best effort to save the company money, create innovative designs that fit with our branding, and assist our sales team to generate more sales,” said Julie.
In 2007, MOM hosted the BPCA (Business Products Council Association) meeting and Julie instantly found tremendous value in the company’s membership. She networked with those at other dealerships and learn more about the industry as a whole. MOM is slated to host next year’s 2018 BPCA spring meeting, which Julie is now helping to organize.
“There are so many really bright people in this industry, and I learn from them,” said Julie after attending the May BPCA meeting. “I collaborate with other dealerships to see what they’re doing, to see what works and what doesn’t.”
As Julie’s career at MOM continues to evolve in line with this industry, she takes a page with a few phrases from the old business playbook: listen, be persistent, and keep learning.
“My advice would be listen to those who have been in the industry for a long time,” said Julie. “Some of the old dogs have had to learn new tricks and their insight is always helpful when approaching a new project. Also, stick to your guns. Your opinions matter, even if they may not be popular. It may be frustrating, but be persistent and eventually your ideas will be heard. Finally, never stop learning. This industry is constantly changing and so should you or you’ll be left behind.”
By Sharon Tosto Esker
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Matt McGuire, Director of CIG Solutions, Clover Imaging Group
Years in the business: 15
Three words that best describe Matt: Adventurous, curious, and dedicated
Hobbies: Fantasy football, and golf
Favorite Book: “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
Favorite Music: Euro House, 80s
After touring the world as a professional model, Matt McGuire returned to Canada looking for a career change. What followed was a lot of meetings with startups.
“Suddenly, there was a dude my age giving me the interview,” said Matt. That “dude” was Aaron Dyck, then the vice president of sales at Printfleet, who went on to become Matt’s mentor. “We connected because even though we were the same age, we were at different points in our career. I was just starting out, and he was at the top of the totem pole.”
Other executives at Printfleet were looking for someone with more experience, but Aaron was impressed with Matt’s willingness to take risks and he liked the idea of hiring someone younger who had yet to form bad habits.
In sales, Matt found his experience as a model to be surprisingly valuable.
“In modeling, you walk around with a book of 50 pictures of yourself,” said Matt. “You put the book down in front of someone, they then flip through it super fast, sometimes [they] don’t even look at you, and then, you walk out. They’re saying no to you, but it’s not personal. It’s just someone trying to do a project.”
Matt followed Aaron to many companies, including Digitek, where they spent a year serving as management consultants. Ultimately, they both joined Clover Imaging Group (CIG) late last year, where they are charged with keeping the substantial company of 19,000 employees in 68 countries agile.
“Companies willing to look at and try new things are more aggressive sales companies,” observed Matt. “Each new customer wave will teach you how to take care of them. And I teach them to how to change and grow.”
The primary focus of Matt’s work is helping CIG’s distribution partners amplify their ability to communicate, train, and develop staff.
“They’re very teaching-oriented partnerships,” said Matt. “We educate $50-million companies on new strategies, accessibility, and software technology to help them tell a story and share insight into the marketplace.”
Matt loves that this is an industry with innovation at the forefront. While some may not think that selling toner and copiers is exciting, they are still the tools that shape how information is used and transmitted in every business. Clients in diverse industries take the communication innovations they learn from CIG and apply them to their own fields. For example, the tactics an airline industry rep may use to sell a new jet may have first been developed to place the best multifunction copier in that rep’s office.
For Matt, bringing a professional attitude to sales involves investing in systems, tools, and processes.
“Salespeople today are no longer the high school quarterback getting by on charm and charisma,” said Matt. “Products have become so technologically advanced that you can’t just be charismatic and have a pamphlet to explain the specs. You need to understand the audience and how to communicate to them.”
As younger people start popping up in C-suites and executive boards, Matt finds his holistic approach is becoming more of the industry standard.
“It’s a partnership,” said Matt. “I may care about the 10% we can affect directly, but the CEO has to worry about the other 90%. I want to help that entire company, to know strategically what they’re doing.”
Matt sells on more communication, more effort, and more investment in the full project, not just his product.
As for the future, Matt is hoping for anything but more of the same.
“I never want to look back at any time in my career and say, “˜2017 was exactly like 2016,'” stated Matt. “What I like about Clover is the crazy amount of opportunities across this company. If I keep knocking out tasks, I like to think there’s something newer or bigger I could be in line for. I’m not necessarily looking for a title bump. I am just looking for something I’ve never done before.”
By Katie Gragg
Joe Odore, Product Manager, Panasonic Systems Communication Company, North America
Years in Industry: 14
Three words that best describe Joe: Innovative, personable, and seasoned
Television Series: “Sons of Anarchy”
Movie Genre: Science fiction
Music: Just about everything, especially 90s and 00s hip hop
Hobbies: Cooking and gaming
Favorite Pastime: Spending time with his son and daughter
Joe Odore’s career path, current role, and aspirations are in direct alignment with his interests, as his genuine passions are technology and people, and his responsibilities inherently enable him to leverage his passions and skillsets surrounding both.
“My job is ideal [for me] as it enables me to stay on the front lines with regard to products,” Joe said. “I’ve always been a tech- and people-oriented person. I’d prefer not to get too entrenched in overall administration, but enjoy bringing technology to market and establishing the relationships that are key to doing so successfully. I don’t want to lose sight of that.”
Joe’s product management responsibilities include Panasonic’s legacy businesses such as facsimile. However, he spends 95% of his time on document scanners””a product segment he’s deeply knowledgeable and passionate about.
With input functionality becoming exponentially important in delivering optimal document management solutions, standalone scanners optimize efficiency in a manner that MFPs cannot.
“With a scanner, as opposed to an MFP, image quality and feature sets (including capture and auto-cropping, among others) are superior,” said Joe. “Our capture software for SMBs contains all of the features they need to maximize document management efficiency. Many of these features are not available on a standard MFP, and if they are, additional costs come into play.”
In terms of evangelizing scanners and how they can ultimately complement an MFP sale for customers who prioritize input, Joe is in a unique and influential position. His role includes a variety of tasks that would likely be split up if he was part of a larger company. For example, whereas most of the major MFP manufacturers have specialists that support different areas of project management, Joe wears more hats than many in similar roles and is truly at the center of it all.
He’s the liaison with the factory for new product development, serves as a primary center of the think tank that ultimately determines go to market strategy and sales development. Joe also manages the P&L, executive promotions, and distribution programs, among other segments of the business.
At 39, Joe, as do many highly competent professionals around his age and career stage, has a key vantage point in terms of the old versus the new and finds himself in a unique position of understanding how to balance and integrate old ideas with the new, as well as serve as an effective bridge between the older and younger generations across the many teams he works with.
Despite his many responsibilities, Joe remains a modest team player who emphasized several times during our interview that he doesn’t want to take all the credit.
“[The team at Panasonic] is a close-knit group, with a strong support team across national sales management and business development,” Joe said. “I don’t do all the thinking myself. I rely on all of my management peers.”
That may be the case, but there does not appear to be much pertaining to the Panasonic scanner portfolio that Joe does not review, coordinate, or execute against. Lastly, given his calm, even-keeled demeanor, Joe Odore is as effective and reliable as the products he represents.
By CJ Cannata
Michelle Powell, Executive Office Coordinator, MWA Intelligence
Years in the business: 5
Three words that best describe Michelle: Nuturing, outspoken, and practical
Favorite activity: Playing with her two children, Jace (7) and Charlee (1)
Favorite movie: “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”
Favorite book: Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
Favorite music: Country, pop, R&B
Unique fact: Michelle can sing every word of every song on the radio.
By the time Michelle Powell sat down to interview for an executive office coordinator at MWA Intelligence in 2012, she had already racked up several years of real-life experience. At 23 years old, Michelle opted out of the traditional college trajectory that would have launched her career in special education. Instead, she chose to dive into the workforce full time with a staffing agency to build a robust skill set.
“Having the stability of a career and a job was what kept me from going back to school,” said Michelle, who had taken a break from her college studies to figure out her direction and never turned back.
As she explored various industries through the staffing agency, working for a hotel, title company, and flooring firm, among others, she became adept at interacting with many different types of people and developed a keen understanding of how to get any job in an office environment done.
“[MWA Intelligence’s CEO] Mike Stramaglio didn’t hire me based on my resume,” said Michelle. “Mike hires people, not paper. He hired me based on me. He liked me and knew that with a little bit of training, I would be a good fit.”
Today, Michelle not only manages Mike’s day-to-day schedule, she also manages the entire MWA Intelligence office. As Michelle likes to say, it’s her job to sweat the small stuff””whether that is making sure Mike grabs a bite to eat in the middle of a packed day or helping out with a deal for a sale.
“I do get pulled in many directions,” said Michelle, who has two children: Jace (7 years old) and Charlee (1 year old) with her husband Brandon. “It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s also exhilarating. I’m never doing the same thing every day.”
Most recently, Michelle assisted in preparing the fifth annual Executive Connection Summit, hosted by MWA Intelligence and Technology United in early May. As of one of the industry’s most valuable networking opportunities, ECS attracts dozens of influential decision-makers.
Planning for ECS requires months of preparation. Michelle worked tirelessly alongside MWA Intelligence’s Chief Marketing Officer Jenna Stramaglio to arrange every detail of the three-day meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. They hammered out all the logistics from securing hotels and choosing meals to drawing in attendees, insuring the right people were filling the seats.
“It was basically like planning a wedding,” said Michelle. “The whole event was amazing and went very smoothly.”
As a younger member of our industry, Michelle has a firm respect for those who have built the industry into what it is today. At the same time, she is confident in the value the younger generations can bring to a business.
“It’s almost as if “˜millennial’ is a bad word for the older generation,” said Michelle. “But, I think the fresh eyes of the younger people differentiates us. Without the older guys””the Mike Stramaglios, the Frank Cannatas, the bigger dealers ““ there is no industry, but millennials have a fresh take and innovative ideas because of the generation we were brought up in with all the technology. ”
For those millennials looking to get their foot in the door to start a career, Michelle’s recommendation is simple.
“Love what you do and make the best of even the worst days,” said Michelle. “Another good piece of advice is to listen. Hear people out. Keep an open mind. There’s nothing worse than people having their minds made up before they hear a person out. It’s such a small, simple thing, but it’s huge.”
After five years at MWA Intelligence, Michelle still loves working there as much as she did coming in on her first day, and she’s not looking to move on any time soon.
By Sharon Tosto Esker
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Adam Weiss, General Manager, Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office
Years in the business: 12
Three things about Adam: Honest, Conscientious, and constantly trying to improve
Hobbies: Cooking and golf
Favorite Sports Team: The Yankees
Favorite Musicians: U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Best Leadership Read: “The Competent Organization” by Lee Thayer
Adam Weiss faced a tough career choice early on, deciding between his passion for Italian cooking or joining the company his father Larry built, Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office in New York City. After culinary school, Adam discovered he enjoyed cooking as a hobby, but it wasn’t what he wanted to do as a career.
“If eating were a sport, I’d be Lebron James,” laughed Adam.
Realizing his passion for business was greater than his love of cooking, Adam reached out to his father. Although he had initial concerns that working with his father might change their relationship, in the end, he said, “It only made us closer. I’ve developed a much deeper respect for all he has accomplished.”
Before Larry would hire him, though, Adam had to gain experience at another dealership. He worked for two years at Saxon Business Systems in Miami as an account executive before joining Atlantic in 2007.
“It was very important to my development to cut my teeth where I wasn’t the boss’s son,” remarked Adam.
At Saxon, the top rep mentored Adam and taught him a mantra in structuring his workday that he has followed ever since: “Everything, every day.” This involves breaking the day into segments that target all skills of a successful salesperson: planning, setting meetings, writing proposals, going into the field, and making cold calls.
“You do everything you need to do, day in and day out,” explained Adam.
As one of the younger members of the Atlantic team, Adam brings a lot of positive energy to the table, along with fresh ideas and a willingness and desire to pursue new ways to improve. This is something he credits his father with molding in him.
“The most important thing [I learned from my father] is constant improvement, that we can all never stop trying to get better every single day,” said Adam.
In a changing technological landscape, one area that’s always ripe for improvement is how sales reps gather and communicate information. Educating clients is a key part of Adam’s sales philosophy. While he has found that buyers do more research on their own these days, it still falls on the salesperson to introduce new concepts and help the buyer see how technology can improve the security and efficiency of their business processes.
“If we’re not educating our clients then we’re not adding any value,” said Adam.
Technology may change over time, but it will always help clients become more efficient. Looking to the future, Adam sees a more tech-integrated office with more managed services, but not fully paperless.
“The word “˜paperless’ comes up, but it’s not really possible for most businesses,” Adam said. “We offer document management and call it “˜paperlite,’ not paperless.”
Adam takes a leadership role in educating his younger employees as well, and disagrees with the stereotype that millennials aren’t motivated. What he sees is a generation looking for work they can be passionate about.
“They’re willing to work hard,” said Adam. “We try to create a fun environment, but the reality is everybody’s got to work very hard.”
If there’s one skill Adam believes more sales reps should develop, it’s empathy.
“It’s important in business to have that skill, to not just understand your client but really care,” commented Adam.
At a company that’s always thinking about tomorrow, it’s not surprising that Adam has his eye on the future as well. He hopes to continue to grow with Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office and take on more responsibility each year. He’s also looking to further his own education by learning more about the financial side of the business and expanding his expertise in that area. He does expect to take over for his father someday, but laughed, “Let’s hope that’s a long time away.”
By Kate Gragg