Name: Adam Szczesny
Title: Director of Quality
Organisation: Allen Flavors Inc.
Have been in the fragrance and flavor industry for over 20 years after graduating with a BS in Environmental Science. I was able to use my chemistry background and apply it to an "unknown" world to me and turn it into a career. I started off as a Lab Tech in a small fragrance house straight out of college and fell in love with the science behind smells and flavors. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by great mentors who had a lot of faith in me and shared everything they knew. Now I am a Director of Quality at a great family-owned ever-growing flavor house, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with next generation of future leaders in the industry.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Adam's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Facing the reality, you cannot always make everyone happy. Getting tasks done and completing projects is easy, but along the way you are always going to face someone that doesn't have the same vision as you. As long decisions were made for the improvement of the larger group, I am OK with knowing that I might have let down one or two people along the way.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Hate to sound cliche, but I think I was born a leader. I may not run a country or even my own business, but all along the way I have had people lean on me to get jobs done and to provide them with support. It started with me being the first born and moving to the USA from Poland at the age of 5. I was thrust into learning a new language and having to be the translator for my parents and grandparents on all official business.
Later I was responsible for getting my brother and sister ready for school and making sure they did all their homework. That taught me to be responsible and to be able to make decision not only for myself but for the good of my family. From that point on any club, team, or group I was a part of I got voted to have some kind of leadership role in. That continued in my career where I got mentored by my managers into roles with growing leadership responsibilities.
From fragrance lab tech to fragrance lab supervisor and a couple different steps at the managerial level before I was recognized by another great mentor, Sal Brucato, as having the skill set to be a Director. I love the idea of being on a team and doing my part to make that team get stronger and stronger as whole while also making individuals on the team grow with confidence and experience.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
There is a routine for sure. Starts with getting myself ready in the morning then taking care of the dog, watering the garden, and helping my daughter with lunch for school. Then when I get in office I look at my agenda and prepare myself mentally and physically for meetings and tasks then go about doing each task until inevitably an "emergency" pops up. That emergency is assessed and correct people get brought into handle it and then we move along the rest of the day until it is time to head out. Then like to end the day with some family time. We always eat dinner together and usually find some other activity to do together between taking a walk, cooking , boardgames or TV shows(especially Mets games) before it is time to go to bed.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I was reminded a good leader has no problem delegating responsibilities. If you lead the right way and build a great team around you then delegating tasks helps get projects closed out sooner, instills confidence in your direct reports, and keeps the team moving forward.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey. When people believe in you and trust that you know what you are doing it helps deliver greater results. It creates a great culture and demonstrates respect. When you earn coworkers, customers, or vendors trust you can cut through all the red tape and get jobs done faster.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Don't' be afraid to fail.... But always learn from your failures so you don't repeat them.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Not necessarily a specific story of leadership, but it's the pride I feel for the people who reported to me that are now in leadership roles. Being able to promote my team to leadership roles rather than hiring from the outside reminds me of the opportunities I was given to turn my job into a career. Developing the team you have and allowing them to grow helps create a great workplace synergy.