Tag Archives: first job

Greg Guglielmino

Investment Specialist Greg Guglielmino Joins Colliers' Phoenix Office

 

Colliers International in Greater Phoenix announced that Greg Guglielmino, senior associate, has joined the Phoenix office.

Guglielmino specializes in the acquisition and disposition of single- and multi-tenant office and medical investment properties for private and institutional clients. He partners with Marcus Muirhead, associate vice president of investments. Guglielmino is also a member of Colliers’ National Healthcare Services Group.

“Greg is a skilled professional and a great addition to our team,” said Bob Mulhern, managing director of Colliers. “His experience in office and medical investment sales will complement and enhance the capabilities of our established investment professionals. We are pleased to welcome Greg to Colliers.”

Guglielmino has more than 5 years of experience as an investment specialist, focusing on medical office property sales. He is an expert in financial modeling, property evaluation, detailed market research, and submarket trend analysis.

His experience includes working on behalf of private investors and institutional lenders in the sale of REO assets and investment properties involving closed listings and buyside opportunities. Prior to joining Colliers, Guglielmino was an investment associate with Marcus & Millichap’s Phoenix office.

“There are a lot of great individuals at Colliers and Marcus Muirhead is one of those individuals,” Guglielmino said. “With our similar investment backgrounds and the team approach encouraged within the organization, it is a natural fit to team with him. Together, our abilities and skill sets will add value for our clients and expand on Marcus’ positive track record for success and client satisfaction.”

He adds that the strong camaraderie within Colliers provides a positive, collaborative environment that reflects a commitment to achieving clients’ goals.

“The Colliers’ culture, management and people are refreshing and I am excited to be a part of the team.”

Guglielmino holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Small Business and Psychology and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University.

 

CEO_ZTejas_01

First Job: Steven Micheletti, CEO, Z’Tejas

What was your first job?
Delivering bread on my uncle’s bread delivery route at the age of 11. I worked every Saturday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. for two years.  When I became a teenager, it just didn’t seem like a cool job to be talking to your friends about, so I moved on to work in a fast-food restaurant called Spaghetti Bowl. Instead of serving buckets of chicken and fries, we served buckets of spaghetti and meatballs. My job was to make 500 pounds of meatballs every Saturday. It took me several months to stop longing for delivering bread.

Do you remember how much you earned at that first job?
I think my uncle paid me $5 a day and I also got tips from his customers. He had over 100 stops, so I made about $25 dollars in tips, which was a lot of money as an 11 year old.

What did you learn from your first job that still impacts you today?
Consistency. Folks expected to have their delivery occur at the same time every day and they would get quite upset if their delivery was late. Oddly enough, the consistency of time mattered almost as much as the quality of bread that was being delivered. You have to deliver on the promises you make to your guests and your team consistently or they start looking elsewhere.

You started your career as an attorney. What made you decide to evolve into the restaurant industry?
I have always worked in restaurants. My first bartending job was down the street from The Palm restaurant in Washington, D.C.  I had the worst shift, but I learned to love it because all the staff from The Palm would come in and eventually they took an interest in my classes. Eventually, if I told them I had an upcoming test, I would give them my notes and they would quiz me. It was pretty funny to see a bunch of waiters asking me question about constitutional law. When I finally graduated from law school and started practicing, I had this ache every so often and I eventually figured it out that my true vocation was being in the restaurant business.

What was your first job in restaurant management?
While studying for the bar exam, I become a weekend manager for a great little bar in D.C. called PW’s Saloon on 19th Street. The PW stood for the nicknames of the two owners, the Prince and the Walrus. I’ll leave the explanation of the nicknames to your imagination.

What is the biggest difference between the legal and restaurant industries?
This is an easy answer. Practicing law is an adversarial process; someone wins, someone loses. Someone is happy, someone is not. Restaurants exist to satisfy and please. When you do it right, it’s a win-win for just about every stakeholder.

What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was admitting that the restaurant I opened in Portland, Maine was failing and needed to close. It wasn’t just about the money that I had lost, but the passion that went into creating it. It took me years to get over. For me, it was worse than being dumped by your first true love. Time heals all wounds and you analyze what went wrong and you learn to start over again.

If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you like to be doing?
I originally thought when I finished law school I would go and work for a movie studio in L.A. because I have always loved spending time in movie theaters. So I guess that would be an acceptable alternative even today. I truly believe that you are where you are because that’s where you’re supposed to be. I love the restaurant business and wouldn’t change anything.

McCarthy - Bo Calbert - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

First Job: Bo Calbert, SW President McCarthy Building Companies

Bo Calbert, Southwest President McCarthy Building Companies, discusses his first job as a caddy and the things that helped him get to where he is today in the construction industry.


Bo Calbert

Title: Southwest President
Company: McCarthy Building Companies

What was your first job?
When I came home from the last day of sixth grade, my father said, “Son, it’s about time you got a job.” We lived right across the street from Hickory Hills Country Club in Springfield, Mo., which is where (deceased PGA star) Payne Stewart learned to golf and where his father was a big golfer. So I walked across the street and got a job as a caddy. It was tough. I’d get there at seven in the morning, had to sweep all the sidewalks to earn the privilege to caddy, and at the end of the day I had to pick up all the balls on the driving range.

What did you learn from that first job?
Working as a caddy at a country club was all about service and dependability, and developing relationships were important. If you didn’t build good relationships with people, they wouldn’t request you to be their caddy.

Describe your first job in your industry.
It was building a high-rise office building in Houston, and I was low man on the totem pole. I was the field engineer, doing all the layout. It was a concrete frame, and I was holding the dumb end of the tape. I got a battlefield promotion because the lead engineer hurt his back. I’d been out of school six weeks when I got that promotion.

What lesson did you learn in your first industry job that still helps you today?
If you’re willing to take responsibility and you’re not afraid to ask for the tough jobs, you will get a lot of recognition early.

What were your salaries in your first job and in your first industry job?
I got $1.60 an hour to shag balls and $3.50 to caddy for 18 holes. My first salary was $22,000 a year in the construction industry.

Who would you consider as your biggest mentor?
Chuck Thompson was the chairman of 3D International, a large engineering construction firm. He’s the one who got me my first interview with McCarthy, and he is the smartest, most talented individual I know. If you had to credit someone with the development of construction management as a process, Chuck would probably get the credit. He’s got a tremendous amount of integrity. In our business, people put a lot of trust in you when they hire you to build their project. You have to have the integrity to make all the right decisions.

What advice would you give to someone starting today in your industry?
What worked for me is that I volunteered for tough assignments that other people might not want to do. Taking on challenges and getting the reputation as someone who is not afraid to take on those challenges is a key thing that people should do early in their career.

For more information on McCarthy Building Companies, visit McCarthy’s website at mccarthy.com.

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2012

Brad Preber - Managing Partner - Grant Thornton

First Job: Brad Preber, Managing Partner Grant Thornton

Brad Preber, Managing Partner of Grant Thornton, discusses his first job selling seeds door-to-door, his mentors and what he learned along the way.


Brad Preber

Title: Managing Partner
Company: Grant Thornton

Describe your very first job.
When I was a teenager, I found an ad in the back of a magazine promoting the door-to-door sale of seeds. You earned points that you could convert into prizes or
cash. I used the money I earned selling seeds to my neighbors to buy a lawn mower that I then used to start lawn care business.

What did you learn from that first job?
I learned what it takes to sell and promote yourself. I experienced the courage it took to knock on someone’s door and the feeling of optimism that came when they actually did what I wanted them to do.

Describe your first job in your industry.
It was a summer job I took doing some bookkeeping for construction companies. I collected the transaction records, recorded them into the accounting books, and prepared financial statements.

What were your salaries in your first job and first industry job?
Selling the seeds was a point system and the points were converted into prizes or cash. I was paid $300 a month for doing bookkeeping for the construction company. I also had an opportunity to apply for scholarship money from the company. I was a broke college student so any extra money helped.

Who is your biggest mentor?
I don’t really have a single individual that I see as a mentor. Instead, I looked to teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents for guidance. I took small pieces of each of them into consideration for what I wanted to be when I grew up. They combined to become big portion of what I am today.

What lessons did you take from your high school coaches?
It’s very clear that the principle of the seven Ps — Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance — is as applicable to life as it is to football. Like football, it takes a team to be successful in business. You have to know your role, set goals for the team, and execute strategies to achieve them.

What advice would you give someone entering your industry today?
The good news is that there are still plenty of jobs to be had in accounting and finance. One thing most people don’t recognize is that there are rarely any home runs in this business. It’s a series of small steps and steady improvement over a long career that allows you to advance and move into ownership.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
If I had the time and the capital to pull it off, I would have become an artist. If I didn’t have the capital to pull it off, I would have become a fly-fishing guide.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Ed Robson, Founder of Robson Communities, AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

Edward J. Robson of Robson Communities Talks First Jobs

Edward J. Robson
Title: Founder/Chairman
Company: Robson Communities

Describe your very first job and what you learned from it.
I had several first jobs growing up. I knew at a young age I wanted to make money, so I decided to go door-to-door offering to shovel snow in the winter time for just $2. Then, when it got warmer in the summertime, I went door-to-door offering to cut lawns. … I was also a paperboy. All of those jobs made me learn that if you do a good job, you will get hired back.

Describe your first job in your industry.
I was in high school and hand dug a cellar for a home. In other words, I worked in construction. When I moved to Arizona I got into real estate mainly because it was interesting and rewarding. I learned from my first job in the industry that if you don’t sell, you don’t get paid. I had a lot to lose since I was supporting my wife and kids, so I worked hard.

What were your salaries?
I made $2 per home shoveling snow and $5 per home cutting lawns. It didn’t matter how long it took, I still got paid that amount.

Who is your biggest mentor?
I worked directly for Del Webb for one year and learned a lot. Del Webb instilled confidence in myself and gave me a lot of responsibility at a young age. He truly believed in me.

What advice would you give to a person entering your  industry?
If a person wants to enter the industry and work for someone else, my advice is to be a producer! You can’t be afraid of admitting a mistake. Mistakes are part of learning.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?

This is a hard question for me because I believe that the sum of your choices directs your life. … I have no idea what I would be doing instead, but I know that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to be successful.

 

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Aaron Matos is the founder and CEO of Jobing.com. - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Jobing.com’s Aaron Matos Talks About His First Job

Aaron Matos
Title: Founder/CEO
Company: Jobing.com

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I was a bike mechanic at Swiss American Bicycles. I learned how to work for a boss who was demanding about service quality, timeliness and doing things right. When I was 14, I thought he was overbearing and too hard on me and others. Now, 24 years later, I realize he helped feed an insatiable desire to do excellent work.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I was a personnel manager at El Dorado of Sun City. I learned that HR and managers can have too many rules, and that if management creates a culture where people are empowered they can accomplish great things.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
(Swiss American Bicycles) $3.35 an hour; (El Dorado of Sun City) $21,500 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
Chris Gaffney, the current lead investor at Great Hill Partners. He has supported and pushed me as CEO … He has taught me that business and life have a long arc, and that you’ve got to keep your eye always focused on building a great business for your customers first and foremost.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Focus on getting things done and accomplishing things. I always traded responsibility for pay, knowing pay would come. Too many people focus on “promotions” or “job titles.” Work to take on big projects and accomplish big important goals for your company. Not only will you learn and grow faster, but others will notice and you’ll get those promotions because you earned it.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I don’t spend energy thinking about what you could be doing instead. Too many people don’t succeed because they have their eye on another ball in a different game. Be passionate about what you’re currently doing.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Rommie Flammer President and CEO China Mist Tea Brands - AZ - Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

China Mist’s Rommie Flammer Talks About Her First Job

Rommie Flammer
Title: President and CEO
Company: China Mist Tea Brands

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
At 12 years old, a friend and I got together a bucket, soap and a sponge, then went door to door asking if we could wash our neighbors’ cars. When they would ask “how much,” we would say “whatever you want to pay us.” I quickly learned my first business lesson, which is have an idea of what your service is worth before heading out. This job was short lived after we knocked on the door of Vern and Claudia Lipp, who bred and showed Himalayan cats. When we asked if we could wash her car she replied, “No, but I have a bunch of litter boxes that need cleaning and cats that need grooming.” …  For the next three years I cleaned and groomed cats, a job that could have definitely earned a spot on the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe!”

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first industry job was at China Mist right around the time I turned 16 years old. Over the course of 26 years, I have learned an incredible number of lessons and I still learn something everyday. … The most important lesson is to surround yourself with truly great people because your team is your greatest asset. Average employees don’t last long at China Mist. Next, is to always challenge the norms of your industry. … Indeed, it is the people who continually strive for a better product, better process, etc., who set themselves and their companies apart from the rest. Finally, focus on what you do best.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
When I started at China Mist, I earned minimum wage, which was around $3.35 per hour at the time. I cannot recall my hourly wage at Hotlipps Cattery, but the memories are priceless.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I have had many mentors along the way, but would have to say that Mignon Latimer has been the biggest in my career. Mignon is the wife of a consultant hired by China Mist some years ago. I was an 18-year-old general manager at the time I started working with her. She taught me how to read and interpret financial details important to the company and precisely why they mattered. She gave me a truly sound financial base from which to build.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
While the barrier to entry is quite low, the competition is strong, so be sure you have a strong point of differentiation.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?

I really cannot imagine doing anything else, but if I had to pick a new industry it would be something in real estate.

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Jacob Gold AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Jacob Gold, President Of Jacob Gold & Associates

Describe your very first job.
My first job came in high school, when I worked at a retail clothing store at the Paradise Valley Mall. I learned to appreciate and respect all customers, and that they were always right.

Describe your first job in your industry.
While studying economics at Arizona State University, I realized that I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and become a financial adviser. Fortunately, my father gave me an opportunity to begin working at his company in order to gain experience. I learned that all things of great quality come over time and you must be patient with yourself.

What were your salaries at both jobs?
I made $4.75 an hour at the clothing store and less than $15,000 my first year out of college.

Who is your biggest mentor?
My father, Bill Gold, has been the biggest mentor of my career. He taught me lessons of money management and business skills that otherwise would have taken me decades to learn on my own. He also gave me the encouragement to start my own company and to write my first book.

What advice would you give to a person entering your industry?
The responsibility of managing the investments for major corporations and individuals is not for the faint of heart, especially after the economic collapse of 2008. You must be able to analyze situations, create a strategy and then be able to effectively communicate your conclusions to others.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
If I was not a financial adviser, I would surely be teaching economics at a college or university.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

David Birzon, President Of Paradise Bakery & Café - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

First Job: David Birzon, President Of Paradise Bakery & Café

David Birzon
President, Paradise Bakery & Café

Describe your very first job and the lessons you learned from it.
My first job was at a neighborhood grocery when I was 15. My job was to come in after school and clean the meat room where the butchers worked all day cutting and grinding meat. Talk about a dirty job! After my first week, the manager took me aside and told me that my work was sloppy and slow. From that day on, I was always the fastest and meticulous about everything I did. I soon became head stock boy, and on my 18th birthday, the youngest assistant manager in the history of the chain.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
Believe it or not, my first job in this industry was at Paradise Bakery. I started after college and have been here 21 years. I learned that this business is about people — the people who work for you and the people they serve. Do everything in your power to do right by the first group and they’ll take care of the second group. I’ve never made a wrong decision when I’ve put our associates and our guests first. I usually make the wrong decision if I put finances first.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
At the grocery store I made $3.35 an hour, and as an assistant manager for Paradise Bakery I made $24,000 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My biggest mentor has been Dan Patterson, the founder of Paradise Bakery and Café. Dan played volleyball in the ’68 Olympics and was captain of the U.S. Men’s National team. He was also a tremendous leader and people person. He was telling me to “just do it” years before Nike ever used that slogan. He taught me that without commitment and discipline, success would always be just another word, not something real. Most importantly, he taught me to always do the right thing, even when it’s often the hardest thing to do.

What advice would you give a person just entering this industry?

Set your sights high and then take the time to learn your craft. This industry is like any other — you have to go deep and understand every detail. There is no substitute for a strong foundation of knowledge. True leaders aren’t born or made overnight. They’ve put in the time to understand the nuances that make their business successful, and more importantly, they’ve put in the time to make mistakes (lots of them!) and to learn from them. Although I might not have thought it when I was 22, the three years I spent managing a Paradise Bakery were my most formative, and I draw from those experiences every single day.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be teaching. My dad was a law school professor for more than 40 years and I’ve always had a passion to teach. I believe that in any community, it’s not the political or business leaders who matter the most, it’s our school teachers. Our future is in their hands.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

William Pepicello, President, University of Phoenix - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

First Job: William Pepicello, President, University of Phoenix

William Pepicello, Ph.D.
President, University of Phoenix

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was reading gas meters in Erie, Penn., as summer employment. I learned the importance of being on time and that the work had to be done regardless of the weather or other harsh conditions, which included crawling around grungy basements, avoiding aggressive dogs, and in one case a small riot.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in higher education was as an assistant professor of English at the University of Delaware, teaching freshman English. This job taught me that I really could have a positive effect on students’ lives. I also learned the value of connecting with students. Even in classes of 100, I made it a point to learn each student’s name and to talk to them when I saw them on campus. I have on occasion over the years run into one of these students, and surprisingly I still remember their names — and they mine.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I read gas meters at about $5 an hour, and my first teaching job garnered the princely sum of $12,000 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My most significant mentor was Dr. George Johnson, the dean of arts and sciences at Temple University, where I taught in the ’80s. He taught me that being good was not good enough. He saw my ambition and helped me learn to think out of the box. Most importantly, he taught me that I should follow my passion, and that if I did this and was open to change, I would find success.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
The same advice that Dr. Johnson gave me many years ago. Higher education is in a period of significant change in America, and it is not an easy path to follow. But it is a very satisfying and vital profession. This is truly a time to focus on one’s passion for education and follow the path that presents itself. It has led me from being a professor of English and classical languages to my current job (who’d have thought?). And there is not a day that I don’t wake up energized and eager to get to work. Every day is an exciting new adventure.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would still want a career that keeps me connected and that ties to one of my passions. I have over the years done lots of radio and TV spots, as well as writing the occasional newspaper column. So, getting out of the box, I’d really love to do a morning drive-time talk show, probably sports talk. I even have the name: Pep Talk. So far Doug and Wolf aren’t biting though, and Phoenix has a great complement of sports broadcasters. But a guy has to dream …

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010

man eating ice cream

First Job: Dan Beem, President of Cold Stone Creamery and Kahala International

Dan Beem
President, Cold Stone Creamery/Kahala International

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was as a bartender at TGI Fridays when I went away to college. It was such a great experience and taught me how to multitask and handle stressful situations calmly. It also helped me develop an intuition on reading people, which is still invaluable today.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first management job was running the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Las Vegas. The place was crazy, where a slow day was $28,000 in sales and a busy day was $125,000. It gave me a great foundation for time management, profit and loss, and public relations skills. The team we worked with there was one of the best.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?

As a bartender I made $2.13 an hour plus tips, and as a manager for Planet Hollywood I made $32,000 per year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?

My biggest mentor has been my father. He is an incredible human being who has the strongest work ethic out of anyone I have ever met. He is one of those people that is knowledgeable on so many different things and just loves to teach. I remember in junior high thinking how I did not want to be like him when I grew up, and then waking up one day in my early 20s striving to be more like him everyday. I am so blessed to have him in my life.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
My advice would be two-fold: First, as you get comfortable start meeting with people in other departments on a regular basis. This will allow you to be able to better understand the different disciplines involved in your business and enable you to talk knowledgeably on a number of different things, which will get noticed. Secondly, I would make sure you volunteer to take on any project you can. You will learn more from leading a project than any other way and will truly become the subject matter expert. This usually transitions to people coming to you for answers and opens up additional opportunities along the way.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?

If I wasn’t doing this now I think I would own a little beach bar in Mexico. Warm weather and beautiful sunsets always sound good.

www.coldstonecreamery.com
www.kahalacorp.com

Woman standing over a desk

First Job: Linda Hunt, Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona And St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Linda Hunt
Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona and St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
During the day, I was a secretary for a construction company. I answered phones, coordinated job assignments and oversaw payroll. In the evening, I worked at Walgreens stocking shelves and cashiering. I learned making a living without a college degree was very hard work. It was tough holding down two jobs and trying to have a life, especially as a college student. I had a lot of fun, but knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in either position.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
When I finished my nursing training, I took a position as a staff nurse at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. My first assignment was in labor and delivery. I took the 3 to 11 p.m. shift because it paid more money. It was very exciting and frightening to be responsible for the lives of mothers and babies. As a new graduate, I learned a lot about life, experienced situations that brought people great happiness and overwhelming sadness, and I sometimes saw the violent side of humanity. I had a tremendous passion for being a nurse. It was fun working with people, hearing their stories, and witnessing new life come into the world. I would get teary-eyed every time I saw a birth — it’s so miraculous.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I netted $250 a month working as both a construction company secretary and a Walgreens sales clerk. I spent eight months earning enough money to buy a used Buick. My first nursing paycheck netted $534 for two weeks of work.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
Dr. Jodi Alphin was a great mentor to me. I reported to her when I was director of nursing at St. Luke’s Hospital in Colorado. She mentored me in decision making, relationship building, and the art and science of leadership. Jodi molded my career in a variety of ways and helped me grow into a health care leader.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Proposed budget cuts at the state and federal level have made this an extremely difficult time for health care. If you are entering health care today, you will need to be innovative and able to envision a different delivery system for care — a system that incorporates personal accountability, evidence-based medicine and prevention. This is a time in health care when you can make great contributions to mankind.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would be an executive chef and owner of a world-class restaurant in a major metropolitan area. I would have won a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for my food and wine.


Arizona Business Magazine

March 2010

First Job: Steven G. Zylstra, President And CEO Of Arizona Technology Council

Steven G. Zylstra
President and CEO, Arizona Technology Council

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I picked blueberries at Pottegetter’s Blueberry Farm in Allendale, Mich., with my parents when I was about 10 years old. It was hard work for a 10-year-old, but I learned that with hard work you could earn good money and buy the things you wanted in life. I earned enough money to buy an eight-transistor radio. The first song I remember listening to on my transistor radio was “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” by Herman’s Hermits, which was popular at the time.

I had dozens of jobs as a kid: topping onions, cutting celery, weeding pickles, butchering chickens, cleaning exotic bird cages, shoveling snow, inspecting eggs, selling seeds, delivering Grit newspaper, bus boy. I was a truck driver in my late teens. All of these opportunities taught me the value of hard work and ultimately helped me realize I could do more with a good education.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job out of college was as a design engineer at the Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich. I had the opportunity to participate in a two-year graduate training program at Ford that was originated by Henry Ford. I had eight, three-month stints across the company in areas such as development, engine engineering, the Dearborn stamping and assembly plants at the Rouge, and body engineering. I even did a stint in product planning and had an office next to William Clay Ford Jr., the future chairman and CEO of Ford.

I learned the value of going above and beyond and trying to always exceed expectations. As a consequence of positive performance reviews while in the program, our vice president of advanced vehicle development recommended me for positions at Ford Aerospace and Communications Corp. in California at the time things got rough in the auto industry in the early ‘80s. That led me to spend the next 20 years of my career in the aerospace and defense industry.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
Picking blueberries in 1964 paid 5 cents a pound. In my first job at Ford in 1978, I made $18,000 a year — more than my Dad, who grew up on a farm and attended school through eighth-grade had earned in any year prior to that.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I never really had a mentor per se, just role models. My father was a role model. He is still the hardest-working person I have known. I got my work ethic from my Dad. I had a high school girlfriend whose father was a role model. Beyond that, what pushes me is an internal drive to excel at whatever I do.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
After getting a great education, do what you love. People are always better at things they enjoy doing. I have always enjoyed going to work. I find it rewarding, invigorating. Always be honest and ethical. Don’t ever accept mediocre; pursue excellence. Always exceed everyone’s expectations — yourboss’, your colleagues’, your customers’, everyone. It will serve you well. Have fun!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I have always wanted to own a Harley-Davidson dealership (maybe a good retirement gig!). While often a lonely place, I like the challenges and rewards of having the top leadership position in an organization. I would enjoy serving as the CEO of many things, especially private companies, not-for-profits and trade associations. I would love to be a golf pro on the tour … if only I had the skill.


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

First Job: Donald A. Smith Jr., President And CEO, SCF Arizona

Donald A. Smith, Jr.
President and CEO, SCF Arizona

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was my newspaper route delivering the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. The most important lesson I learned was the importance of being diligent and responsible. The news agency would put written complaints on my bundle of papers for a number of reasons (such as a wet paper, not bagged properly, a paper left in an inappropriate place or a missing paper). It really bothered me on the rare occasions when I received a complaint, not because I would get in trouble, but because I’d let someone down. I knew from my own parents how important that morning paper was to people.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I was hired as a personal lines underwriter trainee in 1975. I had no idea what this job entailed but it was a tough time in the economy (much worse than today, I believe) and I needed to work! The job involved deciding whether to insure people for automobile and/or homeowners insurance, and what price we would charge them. From this job I learned an important skill: communication. I learned that the way you communicate is as important as what is communicated, and the tougher the message, the more thoughtful one must be. It was here that I learned to deliver the most difficult decisions in person or at least by phone, and not in writing. I find many others today have not learned this lesson.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
For my paper route it depended on the number of papers I delivered. I think I was paid two pennies a paper for the daily and a nickel a paper for the Sunday paper. I usually had about 35 dailies and 70 Sundays, so that was about $8 a week. For my job as an underwriter, I made a salary of $8,200 a year and no bonus. Try living on that today!

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
I had many mentors, but the one that influenced me most was Dan Smith (Do you believe it? Don Smith working for Dan Smith!).

Dan was the western region personal lines VP for our company. Dan taught me two important things: tenacity and straightforward honesty. I give him credit for pushing me to a level of accomplishment I myself didn’t believe could be done, and doing it with a direct, honest approach. Dan was not one for mincing words and this made everyone clear as to expectations. Most importantly, those expectations while a stretch, were never an impossibility. And he knew that to be the case.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
I would tell them that the opportunities are significant (there is already a shortage of qualified young professionals in the property and casualty business), but you must distinguish yourself from the pack, nonetheless. First, demonstrate good work habits; second, seek out educational opportunity (advanced degrees or at least certifications like the Chartered Property Casualty Professional designation); third, speak out and offer ideas and solutions when the opportunity presents itself; and finally, make sacrifices and don’t be afraid to take on the tough assignments that are offered or are available to you. Remember, your career advancement depends upon what you can do for your company, not what your company can do for you.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I love working with people and I love history. Almost all my leisure reading is dedicated to historic events or people. I would love to be a history teacher!


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010

Barry Broome

First Job: Barry Broome, President And CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Barry Broome
President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC)

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I loaded trucks for Mountain Top pies on the west side of Columbus, Ohio. I was in the baker’s local union. I was 15 when I started that job. I remember asking my Dad, who was the plant superintendent at the time, what my goal should be. He said I should become the fastest loader on the dock. After a couple of weeks, I asked the supervisor who the fastest guy was. He said a guy named Sparks. I started requesting to load trucks with Sparks, so I could get fast enough to beat him. Sparks would always finish before me. When he was done, he’d sit around, smoke a cigarette and watch me finish loading. I never did beat him. But he was the only one I couldn’t beat. What I learned from that job was how important college would be for my future. Having grown up working class, it was difficult to see what people’s life was like in a plant. It was very limited. I wanted to build a rewarding life, and I wanted to do something that made a difference in other people’s lives.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I worked for an initiative in Cleveland aimed at rebuilding inner-city neighborhoods. We focused on areas that had 100 percent poverty rates, high crime and gang violence. We created jobs and organized leadership. We worked with gangs, the Crips and the Bloods. We did a lot of work with the Nation of Islam. And a lot of the guys were ex-Black Panthers. I learned a lot from that experience. I realized how much potential people have, even when they live in poverty; that the amazing talent and potential of people can be harnessed if they are given hope. Hope is the most important thing you can instill in someone.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?

I earned $5 an hour at Mountain Top. I made $24,000 a year working in Cleveland’s inner city. We almost starved, but the work shaped my life. It really gave me a sense of purpose.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My biggest mentor, outside of my mother, was a (state) senator from Cleveland named Charlie Butts. Charlie was a genius who saw all of the real problems in our country before most did and understood the magnitude of their complexity. He was instrumental in helping balance the moral compass, which needs to be balanced against ambition. He was the first person to instill in me that winning was not everything, but how you won really mattered. He taught me that principle was more important than power, that real leaders were essentially selfless.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Do it for the love of community and be inspired by the work. You will never be disappointed.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
Either running a tech company or coaching and teaching kids. I’ve built and launched a lot of new tech companies in Michigan. … If I didn’t do that, I would like to teach. I really enjoy being around young people and mentoring them. It’s important, powerful work.

Derrick Hall

First Job: Derrick Hall, President And CEO Arizona Diamondbacks

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned.
My first job came in high school, when I worked in advertising dispatch for our local daily newspaper. I found myself sneaking off to the newsroom to watch and listen. I tried to learn on my own what professionals considered newsworthy.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned.
I was hired by the Vero Beach Dodgers, the single-A affiliate to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Florida State League. I did everything from stocking the concessions shelves, to selling ads for the programs, to pulling the tarp (over the field) in the rain. I learned the value of interacting with the fans, as I learned all of their names, the food and beverage preferences, and their favorite seat locations.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I made a little over $5 an hour at the newspaper and I made $16,000 a year with the Vero Beach Dodgers.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
One of my mentors is Peter O’Malley, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who gave me my break into baseball. He clearly taught me the importance of treating the fans and employees as well as possible. Another is (Major League Baseball) Commissioner Bud Selig, who has grown thegame to all-time heights in attendance, popularity and revenues. He always does what, in his opinion, is in the best interest of the game.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
People must truly have the passion, and not be star struck. They should expect long hours and low pay in the early years. And most importantly, they must be fortunate enough to have a spouse and family that understand the travel, emotions, exhaustion and stress associated with the sport. Yet, if someone truly loves what he or she is doing, that person will never actually work a day in his or her life.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I spent a little time in between teams in sports broadcasting and enjoyed myself. I hosted a morning-drive talk show in Los Angeles and was a weekend sports anchor on NBC there, as well. I would have continued to pursue that — or play-by-play broadcasting or game show hosting!

First Job: Pam Conboy, Regional President Of Wells Fargo Arizona Regional Banking

First Job: Pam Conboy, Regional President Of Wells Fargo Arizona Regional Banking

Pam Conboy

Regional President, Wells Fargo Arizona Regional Banking

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned.
My first job was while I was in high school. I had just made the frosh/soph cheerleading squad and needed to pay for my uniforms. I was hired as a hostess at a local restaurant — Rod’s Grill in El Monte, Calif. My primary role was to greet and seat our customers, and to assist the waitresses. I learned so much about providing great service and about coming to work prepared to focus entirely on the customer; smiling, welcoming and thanking with each and every interaction.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned.
My first full-time job within the banking industry was as a personal banker right here with my current great company, Wells Fargo! I was a banker at the Flair Industrial Park Branch in El Monte nearly 30 years ago. I brought many of my earlier customer service skills to my new job and further learned the power of listening. Engaging in dialogue with my customers was the very best way to identify how I could help them financially. … I learned when we focus on customers’ needs, they reward us with their loyalty, new business, repeat business and lots of referrals.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
As a hostess, I made minimum wage; it was 1976. My full-time salary at Wells Fargo was $800 per month or $9,600 per year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
One of the most influential is my mother. She taught me much at a young age and still continues to support my successes and teach me every day. One lesson was to always be a leader. She instilled a high degree of confidence, as I knew I had her and my family for great support. … Some of my professional mentors also provided encouragement, as well as tough coaching when I needed it. They always identified what was a strength to build upon, as well as an opportunity for further development … Providing conscious awareness was one of the greatest lessons: that of which you are aware can be improved.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
We often use this phrase at Wells Fargo: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” … Do what is best for the customer, do what is best for the team. Do what is best for the company, and you win! … The other advice is to keep learning and keep growing, stay hungry for knowledge and gain experiences! Learning is a journey!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I enjoy numbers and analyzing data, also listening, providing advice and solving. If I weren’t a banker, I might be an accountant or a psychologist. I also have a passion for helping our communities and our youth, so possibly a youth career coach or counselor.

Peter Fine President and CEO Banner Health

Peter Fine, Now CEO Of Banner Health, Drove A Taxi As His First Job

Peter Fine
President and CEO
Banner Health

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
Once I got past delivering newspapers as a little kid, my first job with significant responsibility was driving a taxicab outside of New York City. I did this starting the summer after high school, and did it for each year while in college, plus the year after college. It was 12-hour shifts, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week. Things learned included the value of hard work, and no matter what the job is you have a responsibility to do it right because someone is depending on you.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in the health care industry was working as an administrative assistant in a small hospital and I had responsibility for the admitting department. What I learned was that frontline workers know a lot about what is going on, all you have to do is ask them.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
As a cab driver, I would make about $50 a day and as an administrative assistant, I made about $13,000 per year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
I had three mentors who taught me lessons I actively use on a regular basis. Art Malasto was CEO of a hospital in Indiana, where I was an assistant administrator. He taught me that “visibility breeds credibility, credibility breeds trust, so if you wanted to be trusted, you have to be visible.” Gary Mecklenburg was a CEO at a hospital in Chicago, where I was a senior vice president. He taught me to “plan the work and work the plan.” In other words, you have to plan to know where you want to go, and you have to work the plan if you want to get there. It’s a simple concept that many times cannot be executed.Finally, Ed Howe, a health system president that I worked for in Milwaukee, taught me that to stay focused, you have to “tune out the static.” That lesson has helped me to stay focused on what needs to be done, no matter what else is going on around me.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Make sure you have a passion for complexity and a high tolerance for ambiguity, and always remember that misery is optional.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be coaching a 12-year-old soccer team or coaching a college lacrosse team.

first job john j. bouma

First Job: John J. Bouma, Snell & Wilmer

John J. Bouma
Chairman
Snell & Wilmer

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My first job was working for my father at the Rialto Theater in Pocahontas, Iowa. It was a very nice, small town theater. I ushered guests, changed the names of the movies on the marquee, switched out movie posters, took tickets, sold tickets, and occasionally ran the projectors. I learned how important it is to be on time, to be courteous and attentive to customers, and to take into consideration people’s individual circumstances. People, and particularly kids, who did not have the ticket price would often get in free.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job in the legal field was as a brand new lawyer at a law firm in Milwaukee. After a few months, I went on active duty as a lieutenant in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp (JAG).  Through both jobs, I learned the importance of listening and of preparation. I learned to try cases in the Army, first as a defense lawyer, and then as a prosecutor.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
During my years at the Rialto Theater my father gave me an allowance. I may have received an additional quarter or two on the nights I changed the marquee or ushered.
The law firm I joined in Milwaukee following college was one of the top-paying firms in the country at that time, paying new associates a yearly salary of $7,800.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My biggest mentor was my father. He had run away from school in the sixth grade, but became a very successful businessman. He encouraged me in sports, throwing or catching baseballs endlessly, encouraged me to go to law school (on the principle that since I argued so much, I should get paid for it), and then encouraged me to settle in Arizona. My father taught me to say what I think, and to stick to my position if I believe I am right.

Mark Wilmer was also an important mentor to me. He was an outstanding trial lawyer and a real gentleman. From working with him and trying cases with him, I learned that being gentle and courteous is not inconsistent with being a great trial lawyer.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
It is crucial to establish a reputation for absolute honesty and integrity that can never be compromised or subject to question. Beyond that, if you don’t recognize law as a calling –– an opportunity to help people solve problems –– rather than just a way to make a living, you are in the wrong profession.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would be involved with some nonprofit or public enterprise where I could keep my mind active and where my background and experience could be helpful to the organization. I would also devote even more time to a variety of outdoor activities and travel with my wife and family.

First Job: Roy Vallee, Avnet Inc.

First Job: Roy Vallee, Avnet Inc.

Roy Vallee
Chairman and CEO
Avnet Inc.

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I was 13 years old when I landed my first job selling cosmetics and household products door-to-door. As a salesman, my earnings were based entirely on what I sold. That meant that if I sold nothing, I got paid nothing. While my first job was many years ago, being a door-to-door salesman taught me several valuable lessons that have helped me throughout my career, especially when I began working in technology sales. It taught me to focus on the customer and their needs, how to deal with rejection and use it as a learning experience, and how to motivate myself to keep making calls knowing that the more calls I made the better my odds of making a sale.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I began my career in technology distribution in 1971 as part of a work-study program where I earned school credits. The job involved stocking shelves in the warehouse of a small electronics distributor in California. This gave me an opportunity to learn and experience first hand how a warehouse operates. Early on, I learned the importance of quality practices around inventory management and processing an order.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
As a door-to-door salesman in 1966, I was paid completely on commission and earned 35 percent of what I sold. When I worked at the warehouse stocking shelves, I was paid $2.25 an hour, plus I received school credit. While the money was important at the time, the experience that I gained from these jobs has been invaluable throughout my career.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My most influential mentor was Leon Machiz, the chairman and CEO of Avnet from 1988 to 1998. In 1989, I was a mid-level Avnet manager when he first noticed me during a presentation at one of our top suppliers. He called me into his office a few days later to promote me to president of Avnet’s computing business, a division that had $300 million in annual revenues at the time. This was a significant and unexpected promotion. However, Leon had been impressed by how well I understood our suppliers’ needs, their business challenges, and how Avnet could help them overcome those challenges. As I took on this new role, Leon spent hours with me talking about the business and helping me understand what it would take to be successful. His mentorship helped me understand one of the greatest lessons of my career — my job is not to run the company, but rather to lead it.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
I am a true believer in doing the right things consistently over time. My observation is that the most successful people in business are relentless about their focus on delivering the highest value to their customers and other partners — and that’s true if you are just starting out or if you are heading a big corporation. If you have your customers’ best interests at heart and approach that with an uncompromising single mindedness, they will reward you with their business.

I also believe that meritocracy is vital to attracting and engaging the best employees. And acting with honesty and integrity is always the right thing to do. Do it even though it might not be what everyone else is doing or it feels uncomfortable at the time. This will give you a solid reputation as an employee, business partner, employer and investment for shareholders.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would probably start my own company or buy into a smaller business and get involved in the strategy and people development. Alternatively, I might work in venture capital or private equity investing.

Michelle Kerrick

First Job – Michelle Kerrick

Michelle Kerrick
Managing Partner
Arizona Practice Deloitte, LLP

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My very first job was waiting tables at a Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in Flagstaff during high school. My sister and I had signed up for a ski trip to Utah, but I needed to earn the money over Christmas break to be able to go. After dropping several meals and breaking the coffee pot, I realized that waitressing was not for me — but I learned several great lessons from that job. First, find the areas where you excel and the things you’re passionate about, and second, don’t let hot coffee land on the polyester uniforms!

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
I joined Deloitte, which was named Touche Ross at the time, as a staff accountant in 1985. I was recruited from Northern Arizona University and have been here ever since. My dad encouraged me to study accounting. He felt it would be a challenging field and a marketable career. I chose Deloitte because of the energy and warmth of the people I met. That stands true today. I work with an incredible group of very talented individuals. One of the most important lessons I have learned in my 23 years in this profession is the importance of flexibility. When you are a junior staff member, client, industry and team assignments change frequently, which can be intimidating. You have to be able to react to change in a positive way. I also learned that working hard and maintaining a good attitude not only helps you be successful, it fosters a collaborative environment where everyone benefits from the team’s accomplishments.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
My restaurant job paid the industry standard for tipped employees: less than minimum wage. In 1979, it was about $2.50 an hour. When I joined Touche Ross in 1985, I was earning a salary of $18,000, plus a $2,000 bonus, and I was thrilled. Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play? Two mentors influenced me tremendously. The first is a now-retired Deloitte partner named Dave Martin. I had the opportunity to work with Dave for a great portion of my career. He was an impressive leader with remarkable business acumen and taught me a lot about client service and navigating the Deloitte organization. My other mentor is a friend outside of the accounting profession whom I have known for more than 15 years. He helped me hone my business skills and develop the ability to take a long-term, big-picture view, which is critical for any business leader.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Work hard and keep a positive attitude. Be flexible to the many changes that will come your way, since every new experience is a learning opportunity. Keep things in perspective: life will go on, and everyone makes mistakes. Strive for balance between work and your personal life — you can’t give 100 percent at work if you don’t take the time to stay healthy and fit.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I had always thought about med school; however, given some of the issues facing the health care system, I have no regrets! One of the great aspects of my job is the support and encouragement I receive from the firm to give back to the community. That is certainly something I am passionate about and I hope to always stay active in our community. I currently work with Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, the Maricopa Partnership for Arts and Culture, Greater Phoenix Leadership, Saint Mary’s Food Bank and the United Way. I want to see Phoenix become the metropolitan area that will attract viable companies and great talent.

Philip Francis Chairman and CEO, Petsmart

First Job: Philip Francis

Philip L. Francis
Chairman and CEO, Petsmart

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
I’m going to give you two. I grew up on a farm, so the first thing I remember is cleaning up barns and building fences and bailing hay, and I worked for room and board. What I learned is to get a good job and get a good education. And straight out of college, I was an assistant nature director at a 4-H camp. I controlled the 10-year-olds and smart 12-year-olds who knew more about nature than I did.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
In terms of a real job, I was a trainee out of college in a grocery store, and what I learned is it’s all about the customer.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
Assistant nature director was room, board and $200 a month. And my first full-time job (in 1971), was $13,500 a year, and I thought I was rich.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
The guy’s name was Winslow Smith, now deceased. He was president of the small grocery business that I had gone into. And, he let me go as fast as I could, as long as I performed. I am (now) willing to put young people in at or over their heads … if they’re good performers, they can go.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Get a varied, rather than a narrow set of experiences early, and if you’re in a business where there are operations, make sure you include operations early in your career. If you can be in a good finance job early, but never learn the operations of the business, you’re going to top-out quicker than somebody who understands what really goes on in the business. That’s why I said get a varied set of experiences.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
Well, I like what I’m doing. I think at my age and stage I would be doing something in the give-back mode. So, I’d probably be working for a social service agency or group of some sort helping other people, old or young, who can benefit from help.

Rick Welts, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Phoenix Suns

Rick Welts, President Of Phoenix Suns, Discusses His First Job

Rick Welts
President and Chief Operating Officer, Phoenix Suns

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My very first job was in the exact same industry that I am in now, and the exact same league. I was a ball boy for the Seattle SuperSonics, which I started doing in 1969. I was a team attendant, just like you see ball boys and ball kids running around today doing it, just doing what needed to be done around the locker room and during the games.

I go back to that a lot when I talk to people about what I do, because it’s very rare that anybody gets the opportunity to be in the environment of a professional sports team locker room, and there are dynamics that go on there that actually help me very much in my current job in terms of the relationships between players, the coaching staff, the training staff, the media, and where that interaction happens.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
It was called then the public relations director — it’s now usually called media relations director — of that same team, the Seattle SuperSonics, which I started doing in 1977. That was very valuable to me in that we ended up, the Sonics, in the two years that I had that position going to the NBA finals both years and winning a championship the second year, which was 1979. … It was really a fast education in my first two years in that position to really be the focal point of our league in the championship series both times and to win a championship.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I think with the ball boy job I got $10 a game and two tickets with which my parents became regular attendees of Sonics’ games. My starting salary as public relations director, which started in 1977, was $15,000.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
One that everybody knows would be the current commissioner of the NBA, David Stern. … I ended up spending 17 years working directly for him, the first couple in his role as executive vice president and the last 15 as commissioner of the NBA. He truly would be my most important mentor in learning. …

My two others would be my second boss at the Sonics, a guy by the name of Dave Watkins, who was head marketing and public relations person for the Sonics at the time. I really learned the value of how much creativity you could bring to a job and how important communications skills are in business. … (Then) I went into business with a guy who had been our assistant general manager with the Sonics. His name was Bob Walsh. Bob had left the Sonics to start a sports marketing firm in Seattle, and from Bob I learned to value the role personal relationships play in being successful in business …

What advice would you give to a person entering your industry?
In addition to looking for the right organization and the right opportunity, if you can pick a good boss, you’re probably going to learn more and probably advance your career better than you could if that wasn’t the case.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I actually wanted to be a journalist or at least be in the journalism industry. When I was in college I was actually in communications school. I was going during the time of Watergate when journalists really were heroes. … I still have great admiration for people who have that as their lives’ work.

Merl Waschler

Merl Waschler’s First Job

Merle Waschler
President and CEO, Valley of the Sun United Way

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
As a young adult in high school and my early college years, I worked at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in my hometown state of New Jersey. I consider my time at Greystone to be one of those pivotal life-shaping experiences. As an orderly and camp counselor, I worked serving the needs of mentally ill adults and children from all walks of life. Here I learned the power of empathy, patience and the true meaning of human potential. These virtues continue to shape my life and career daily.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it?
Upon graduating from Penn State University, I began my finance and accounting career at Arthur Andersen. Throughout my tenure at the firm, I sharpened my skills in business management and developed a business approach to accounting. I continue to utilize the financial management, operations and strong business ethics I learned early in my career at Arthur Andersen. I am genuinely grateful that my first industry job led me to a strong relationship with United Way. During my career at the firm, I served as a United Way loaned executive. As such, I worked alongside United Way staff helping to increase the understanding human service needs, and encouraged donations to the annual fundraising campaign. This journey has come full circle for me, as loaned executives are tremendous support to Valley of the Sun United Way.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I made minimum wage at Greystone Park (around $3.25 an hour) and earned about $10,300 a year at Arthur Andersen.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
My career and professional mentorship hit its pinnacle as Valley of the Sun United Way’s president. I am fortunate to have the counsel of leaders that span diverse industries, leadership levels and areas of expertise. As a leadership group, I look to corporate CEOs, nonprofit leaders, community philanthropists and many others for advice on pressing issues in the areas of education, income and health to guide Valley of the Sun United Way’s work. Equally important is the community’s voice to ensure pressing human care needs continue to be met. This wide-range community perspective is powerful and reflects a desire from all to create opportunities for a better tomorrow.

I continue to be inspired by my professional and community mentors and will work vigorously to improve the quality of life in our community for individuals, families and children.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
The nonprofit sector continues to innovate and transform to meet community needs. I would encourage individuals entering the field to consider that changing community conditions takes time, tenacity, innovation and a degree of risk. I’ve seen an increasing number of nonprofits moving toward the integration of business models and social change theories. All of this represents a great opportunity for individuals, organizations and the communities served by nonprofits.

With this in mind, find an organization that fits your passion and has bold community goals. Surround yourself with innovative thinkers and agents of change. Reach for the opportunity that maximizes results for you and the organization. Remember that long-term change will not be achieved overnight — look for an opportunity with longevity.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I can honestly say that I cannot imagine doing something else. We often seek to find that job we can be so passionate about that it does not seem like “work” or a “job.” I am very lucky to be living that today. It’s so rewarding to work with business, nonprofit, faith-based, government, academia and so many other sectors to strengthen the quality of life in our community each and every day. I’ve met so many inspiring individuals whose lives have been touched by Valley of the Sun United Way and our many partners. I am humbled to be serving our community and will continue to do so proudly.