Companies Want to See “Talent in Action”

Small business border“You know what bosses like even more than employees who get their work done? Employees who don’t even have to be told what to do, because they’ll create value on their own accord,” says Eric Talbot, Strategic Account Manager at National Business Capital & Services in Bohemia.  That was his advice to young people – particularly Millennials and Generation Zs – who are a growing part of today’s emerging workforce.

“Customer service is not a department – it’s an attitude,” added Gregg Pajak, President and Founder of the WizdomOne Group in Islandia.  “Service is about making things easier and saving people time and money. Experience is about making things memorable and engaging and creating a desire to linger.

“The best experiences,” Pajak adds, “are those you wish would last forever.”

These were just two pieces of sage advice that was part of an HIA-LI Small Business Task Force Open Forum titled, “Is There a Difference Between the Generations?” held on November 7 at Simplay in Hauppauge.  Moderated by Rev. Joseph Garofalo, Outreach Pastor at Island Christian Church, the panel included five distinguished business leaders: Gary Barello, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. in Shirley; Scott Maskin, CEO and Co-Founder at SuNation Solar Systems, Inc. in Ronkonkoma; Teresa Ferraro, President of East/West Industries Inc. in Ronkonkoma; along with Talbot and Pajak.

Panelists were asked to provide their thoughts on a range of topics including meeting deadlines, employee initiative, work-life balance, and performance reviews.

According to Gary Barello, while there are differences in the way generations view the workplace, “employers have to be careful not to generalize.  We have to avoid stereotyping by closing our eyes when a new person joins our team and say, ‘what does this person have to offer?’”

Barello added, “Just like ethnicity and gender, business leaders like us need to avoid labeling – we need to give each person the opportunity to show who they are.”

“Each scenario is case by case,” added Talbot.  “You never know what someone has going on right outside the office.”  However, if someone was consistently submitting projects and reports exactly at deadline with no time to spare, it would “raise some red flags” and question whether the employee could “handle the responsibility of bigger projects with tighter deadlines.”

Pajak added that younger employees need to take initiative and show management how they can build teamwork and impact the bottom line.  “Companies don’t want sculptures of talent,” he said. “They want to see the talent in action.”

These Open Forums are a direct result of feedback from our membership, 80 percent of which are small businesses, a figure which mirrors the overall Long Island business community.  We understand that small businesses have their own set of unique challenges, and discussions over the years centered on how our organization could provide better guidance and support for these companies.  One result was the institution of these Small Business Task Force Open Forums, now in its third year.

A special thanks, as always, to Rita DiStefano, Chair of the Small Business Task Force and Director of HR Consulting at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl and Associates, Inc. in Jericho and her task force members who work tirelessly to bring progressive, relevant programming to our membership.

Finally, stay tuned for future Small Business Task Force Open Forums, complimentary to HIA-LI members.

Mentorship is Essential

From left: Domenique Camacho-Moran, Farrell Fritz P.C.; Terri Alessi-Miceli, C.E.O., HIA-LI; Karen Frank, Omnicon, an HBM Prenscia subsidiary; Theresa Ferraro, East/West Industries; Gwen O’Shea, Community Development Corporation of Long Island; and, Anne Shybunko-Moore, GSE Dynamics.

In 2010 I was invited to participate in a roundtable hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on elevating women’s status in business with other esteemed women business leaders. She emphasized the importance of mentoring, equality and life/work balance and much more.

At the roundtable, I shared a personal story from many years prior about advice I had received from a male mentor.

His counsel?

Practice the profession of being a superior businessperson, whether I was male or female. Comprehend profit and loss statements and balance sheets, and learn how to develop revenue streams. His simple advice was lucid and relevant, and I never forgot it.

As I listened around the room all of us had mentors that were helping to lift us up and guide us along our journey.

At that roundtable Senator Gillibrand encouraged all of us to take an active role in helping generate more female business leaders and devise new platforms for ongoing discussion. Our ultimate goal would be to propel more women into executive suites.

HIA-LI accepted the challenge. We heeded the Senator’s call by instituting a panel series highlighting the challenges women face in the workplace.

It didn’t surprise me that at HIA-LI’s highly successful, Eighth Annual “Women Leading the Way” panel and networking breakfast held November 29, with many executive suite and young females in the room, the value of mentor support was a recurring theme.

HIA-LI is grateful to our moderator Domenique Camacho-Moran, a partner at Farrell Fritz P.C., as well as panelists Karen Frank of Omnicon, a HBM Prenscia subsidiary; Theresa Ferraro of East/West Industries; Gwen O’Shea of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island; and Anne Shybunko-Moore of GSE Dynamics.

Panelists agreed that life/work blending and support is essential for building women’s already impressive status in today’s business world: some ten million women-owned firms employ more than 13 million workers and generate more than $1.9 trillion in sales.

Panelist Karen Frank urged women to build their own strong networks. Through mentoring and network building, Karen said, “we can navigate this landscape better than in the past.”

This forum isn’t just a place to sip coffee and discuss women in business once a year: it’s a real-life mentoring event and a vibrant networking marketplace.

Moreover, it’s become a proud and valuable HIA-LI tradition. Thanks to all for making it a success!