Reconnecting with Young Influencers of the past
Above clockwise from top: Jessica Crowley, Maegan Lujan, Arial Montag, Dino Pagliarello, David Scibetta, Adam Weiss
Over the course of The Cannata Report’s Young Influencer franchise, we have profiled dozens of young people in our industry, all under the age of 40. We have an excellent track record as more than 90% of those we’ve profiled are still working in the industry. We thought it would be interesting to catch up with six of our past Young Influencers to learn what they’ve been up to since we last profiled them, the best advice they’ve ever received in their professional careers, and the lessons learned in the past 18 months. For additional insights look for a separate digital post with their advice for young people entering the industry.
The panel includes:
- Jessica Crowley, senior vice president, Copier Careers
- Maegan Lujan, director, solutions and services marketing, Toshiba America Business Solutions
- Arial Montag, talent acquisition leader, GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp.
- Dino Pagliarello, senior vice president, product management and planning, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A.
- David Scibetta, executive vice president and chief information officer, Copier Fax Business Technologies
- Adam Weiss, general manager, Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office.
CR: What’s the best thing that has happened to you professionally since you were featured in The Cannata Report as a Young Influencer?
Crowley: There were so many positive things over the past few years. I honestly cannot narrow it down! The most recent was my promotion to senior vice president of Copier Careers in October 2020. This was especially meaningful to me as it coincided with my 10th anniversary celebration with the company. It was truly an honor to receive such a prestigious recognition.
Celebrating 10 years with the company has me reflecting on the many industry relationships I’ve developed. I’ve learned so much from both clients and candidates it’s been a privilege to use my experience to help.
The clients I speak with every day have goals for growth, and I enjoy helping them pinpoint what type of candidates will take them to the next level. Now more than ever, these relationships help me to evolve our candidate searches and adjust to the changing industry landscape. When a client reaches out to discuss a compensation plan, a potential change in leadership, or to ask for my observations in the market, it’s truly humbling to see the value they place in my experience.
The candidates I work with have goals too. Beyond compensation, they want to find a company that’s a good fit—compatible cultures, goals, values, locations, and more. Discussions with them are so exciting when I have an opportunity that meets not just what they need but what they want! I especially love when one of my placed candidates gets to work with me on the other side of the hiring process to help their new company grow. Relationships that go full circle from candidate to client are a treat.
Lujan: In the short time since I was featured as a Young Influencer, so many good things have happened, and it’s hard to choose.
Put simply, receiving the Young Influencer honor was an affirmation that put me on the map as a leader in my industry. It gave me more visibility within Toshiba—especially outside the team that I normally work with.
Shortly after being named a Young Influencer, I was promoted to my current role as the director of solutions and services, where I manage the technology portfolio and go-to-market strategy. I was also selected to join a pilot mentoring program at Toshiba called Executive Leaders Tomorrow (ELT), the mission of which is to grow Toshiba talent by providing nominees with executive leadership-type challenges and development opportunities. Through ELT, I participated in a 12-month accelerated executive coaching program to determine mutually defined areas in leadership and organization development.
In that program, I was hand-selected as the protégé to Toshiba’s CEO for my demonstrated ability to think strategically with vision and imagination, handle increased pressure, deal constructively with adversity, act with dignity and integrity, and embody a willingness to take on extra duties and responsibility. Through this experience, I received personalized coaching and executive sponsorship to further my growth.
Beyond that, The Cannata Report gave me the platform to begin the journey as the CEO of my brand. I began to think more about my reputation—both personally and professionally—as well as the story I was telling and how I could have a greater positive impact both inside and outside the office.
Being named a Woman Influencer by The Cannata Report in 2019 was the start of a more rewarding career path both inside and outside my industry. It enabled me to share more of myself and explore additional areas of business and life. I believe that a true influencer leads, and I’ve taken that calling seriously by establishing a community.
Being recognized as a Young Influencer and a Woman Influencer gave me the confidence to keep growing and exploring as a millennial in the industry. It also motivated me to use the role I was given to shift mindsets and inspire others as I’ve been inspired. These recognitions made me take the time to think about what I stand for and what my personal and professional brand could be.
Montag: I now serve as a member of the human resources leadership team at GreatAmerica, where I provide strategic insights into the talent acquisition process, including employment branding, position advertising, candidate sourcing, employment testing, interviewing, and assessments, background checks, and offers. The very best part about this opportunity is the ability to directly impact the culture of GreatAmerica by hiring culturally aligned and talented individuals into roles where they will thrive. Plus, I work with an amazing team of passionate individuals who strive to make a difference every day.
Pagliarello: Over the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to expand my career at Konica Minolta. This has provided me with the chance to further influence the organization’s strategic product direction in my new senior vice president role.
Scibetta: I got to hang a giant shrine of the article in our office! Of course, the answer is recognition from my peers.
Weiss: It’s the best and the worst thing all at the same time. Managing the team through the pandemic has been the greatest challenge of my career. It was undoubtedly a challenging time; however, there have been so many learning lessons. I have grown a lot professionally.
CR: What’s the best advice you ever received in your professional career?
Crowley: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to always ask the next question. This skill has been my greatest strength across every professional role I’ve held.
Asking the next question is crucial in business development. In client discussions, I need to pursue all the relevant information to better understand what they need. If a client tells me they need another sales rep, I dig deeper to find out the specifics of that role, what is and isn’t working in that department, the steps of their hiring process, what roadblocks stalled that process in the past, and much more. This curiosity continues throughout the relationship as I seek out feedback on our candidates, looking for ways to streamline the process. Even when a client isn’t actively hiring, I proactively reach out when I find a rock-star candidate who could help them meet their established goals.
The same goes for screening candidates. If a candidate says they’re job hunting because they’re underpaid, I need to ask more than just what compensation level they’re looking for. It’s so rarely just a matter of money; it’s personality, goals, recognition, promotion paths, work environment, and more. Building this rapport helps me find out what really gets them motivated and what sort of factors help them thrive. This effort pays off when I find just the right match for them. It can really change a candidate’s life.
Lujan: The best advice I’ve ever received for both my professional career and life is this: Never stop learning.
Following that advice, I’ve leaped and tried to optimize every opportunity that’s been presented—from following the evolution of the tech industry to demonstrating leadership and building out my brand and community. I’ve also kept my passion for solving problems and finding the right solutions. Learning keeps you vibrant and growing. Don’t stop.
Montag: My sage mentor and dear friend, Sally Brause (director, human resources consulting, GreatAmerica), has shared many impactful lessons with me throughout my career. One of the most vivid I use daily is the mantra, “People support that which they help to create.” When you approach life this way, you bring people into the fold; you allow open thought, questions, and participation. In truth, the results you can experience are that much richer when others are involved and engaged. The vision you are dreaming of is made better by the diverse thought of others. The plans being built are executed on with more vigor. At the end when you cross the finish line, it is not you alone celebrating your success, rather it is the team standing there with you equally as proud of the dreams you imagined together and the results you achieved together.
Pagliarello: I’ve received a lot of great advice from so many tremendous leaders. One that stands out is the following: “Where there is chaos, there is opportunity.” My personal motto is, “If you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen.”
Scibetta: “If you want to hoot with the owls at night, you better be ready to fly with the eagles in the morning.” This is a quote from Big Al [David’s father Al, founder of Copier Fax Business Technologies].
Weiss: Culture eats strategy for breakfast. This is a Peter Drucker quote that has stuck with me and I find it to be spot on.
CR: What’s the biggest lesson you learned about yourself and/or your company in the past 18 months?
Crowley: The first word that jumps to mind is “resilience.” The past 18 months have been a challenge for everyone. I’m in awe of the industry players who have taken what looked like an impossible situation and found so many creative ways to keep pushing forward. Some are doing even better than they had in previous years —incredible!
I experienced this same resilience in myself and my colleagues at Copier Careers. At the beginning of the pandemic, those of us in leadership had some extremely difficult choices to make. We had so little reliable information to make decisions in those early days. As a small company in an uncertain world, we chose to focus on what we could control: how we engaged with each client and candidate.
We reached out to everyone we could and discussed what they were going through, what they were trying, and how we could assist. We tried to provide useful, accurate information while highlighting the positives. We were flooded with emails sharing stories and messages of encouragement, solidarity, and hope. People so suddenly isolated were reaching out not to be alone. It was our distinct privilege to reach back.
The past 18 months were far from easy, but I am so glad I had my team through it all. We’ve always been close, but 2020 showed me just how much we could count on each other. And here we are today, busier than ever! That’s a testament to the resiliency of our team and the industry as a whole.
Lujan: As the protégé of our CEO at Toshiba, I had a huge learning opportunity while going through the self-discovery exercises that were a part of my training. It started me down the path of writing my book, titled A Million Little Clicks, to help others discover themselves and build authentic personal brands.
Our CEO also helped me claim my vision with a stronger understanding of who I am and what I have to offer. The assessments I underwent helped me realize where I was strongest and where I still need to grow. This along with becoming an ambassador to the Orangewood Foundation, a nonprofit supporting foster youth, has taught me how powerful it is to share your story while mentoring others who may be able to benefit. Where you have come from is just as important as where you’re going. It matters.
In the past 18 months, I’ve discovered a way to almost normalize the path to success while helping others map it out for themselves.
Professionally, I’ve learned how fast the world moves and what leadership means if I want to continue to be a change agent in my field–looking at the future of our business, seeing all the changes globally, figuring out software and solutions that solve today’s problems, watching as a remote workforce becomes a greater and greater reality. We are now experiencing hybrid business models deployed in almost every industry, and I’m proud to have been a part of that strategy development and execution.
Montag: When faced with an obstacle, to envision possibilities rather than absolute roadblocks, I’ve always been keen to ask the question, “In what ways could we?” I believe this approach is fundamentally supported at GreatAmerica through our culture. When I step back and reflect on all we, at GreatAmerica, were able to change and the success we found in quickly doing so, I feel the biggest lesson is keeping this mentality front and center even after the obstacles of the last 18 months go away. We’ve always had a strong culture of innovative thinking, but going forward, we should continue to challenge basic assumptions about our processes, operations, and the way we work. By doing so, I know the possibilities for us and our industry will be absolutely endless.
Pagliarello: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that the world can change quickly, and you need to be ready for it, so planning is essential. I think that the pandemic has altered people in the planning function in fundamental ways for the foreseeable future.
Scibetta: We always have eaten our own dog food and because of that, we were and are ready for anything.
Weiss: Building on the last point on culture which is defined by your people. While it isn’t a new lesson it was something that I was reminded of again and I am very fortunate to have such a strong team. You can have the best plan and something completely outside of your control can derail that plan. The team responded very well and helped us get through this very challenging period and improve our process at the same time.
CR: What advice would you give to a young person today who is considering a career in this industry?
Crowley: Our clients rarely ask us to source completely green candidates. They know they can use us to find experienced industry professionals. We do, however, work to bring fresh candidates over from compatible industries. In those cases, my first step is to sell them on the direct channel by discussing their professional goals and laying out ways the industry can help meet those goals.
I recently spoke with a young sales professional who was selling B2C. He said the problem with his current career path was upward mobility—there wasn’t a path to promotion or significant compensation increases. He also said he wanted his work to matter. He was unfamiliar with our industry, so I laid it all out, highlighting what he could achieve with our clients. I explained the value the industry brings in providing solutions to help businesses meet their goals. I was honest about the challenges but emphasized that the effort he puts in would be rewarding both financially and personally.
For technically minded candidates new to the industry, I find out the specifics of their skill sets and preferences. The industry’s ongoing evolution to offer increasingly sophisticated solutions offers plenty of opportunity and variety to them. The ones who prefer mechanical work are interested in hybrid-service roles to both meet their hands-on preferences, but also to help them grow their technical skills. Candidates looking for IT opportunities want to learn and work in our clients’ managed-services divisions.
Lujan: I fell in love with this industry not only because of my original knowledge base in it, but also because I had a strong curiosity about technology. You can have a long and successful career within technology if you are truly curious and passionate about it.
There are so many areas where we use technology, and this leads to a wide variety of jobs and opportunities. I encourage any young person that is curious about tech to explore, learn, and see all the spaces you can establish yourself in a career you’ll love. One that will help you grow beyond anything you could imagine.
And never stop learning.
Montag: Whether they’ve found themselves in this industry by choice or happenstance, here’s what I’d say: You are lucky to be a part of this industry. We have a rich history of innovation and growth, with people who have years of expertise and the willingness to listen to new ways of doing things. Leverage this! Connect with those individuals in the industry who would happily share their knowledge to help you learn the industry, and then, don’t be afraid to dream up something new together. The best thing about our industry is the people you meet when you immerse yourself. We have a strong ecosystem ready to be tapped by the next generation of talent.
Pagliarello: Essentially, you get out of this industry what you put into it. The bottom line is if you work hard but smart, this business gives back. It is a great industry that is constantly changing. I’ve never been bored at work a day in my life.
Scibetta: Be ready for the hardest grind you can imagine. If you can last, it will be worth every ounce of sweat.
Weiss: Set clear goals. Work hard. Trust your gut, people won’t always agree with you. Make sure you have fun!
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