Mentors have played a vital role in shaping who I am today. They have greatly influenced my leadership style, my values and how I balance life and work.
My greatest mentor was my father. An immigrant from Italy, he worked as a contractor in one of the most challenging, dog-eat-dog businesses that exists, the fashion industry in New York City. As a small business man, my father demonstrated that he possessed a great sense of integrity and compassion in an industry that didn’t have very much at the time. These values not only helped him stay grounded, they helped set the foundation for his success. He passed the importance of integrity and compassion on to me, and I’ve kept this close to my heart throughout my career.
Another important lesson that I learned early in my career is that you can have it all—a wonderful family life and a successful career. At Brownstone Studio, a direct marketing catalogue company, I had the privilege of working for women who were great role models. The owner of the company was a mother of three children, a grandmother, and her own mother lived with her. On top of this, she was also a very successful business woman. During a time when the status quo seemed to be “live to work,” what I learned instead was that one can live first and also work. In other words, you can have it all.
I’ve also learned valuable lessons through negative experiences. For example, at a past job I worked for a battle-axe of a woman who was completely opposite of my mentors at Brownstone. Her life was her job and she didn’t respond well to other women who didn’t play the game the same way she did. This cost me an executive job opportunity. However, my leadership style and virtues helped pave the way to another opportunity. An old colleague thought I would be a good fit for a position at Pitney Bowes. He interviewed and hired me in 1995, and I’ve been with the company ever since.
By working for an organization that encourages work-life balance and provides a myriad of opportunities, I’ve been able to continue to grow in my career. And by serving as a mentor to others, I have the honor of helping to educate the next generation of leaders.