Learn by Doing: How the Execs at These Colorado Tech Companies Nurture Their Top Talent

February 16, 2021
Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Doug Gesiorski’s strategy for training junior leaders at Adtaxi follows a simple approach: learn by doing.

That’s why, whenever there’s a big initiative at the digital media company, Gesiorski, the VP of ad operations, asks junior managers to tag along and lead, empowering them with experience.

“That includes participation in budget conversations, which will empower them to drive our business more effectively, owning key strategic initiatives from conception to execution and even managing difficult conversations across teams,” Gesiorski said.

This tactic is used in variations across companies statewide. At Prologis, a logistics real estate company, an internal training program teaches hard and soft skills. Currently at BillGo, a fintech company in Fort Collins, a weekly companywide management series focuses on the people side of leadership. 

According to Kelly Seidl, BillGo’s CTO and co-founder, the first step to facilitating an environment for growth and development is trust.

“It’s critical to ensure that managers are accountable, and that we have mutual respect and trust,” Seidl said. “If they don’t feel ownership and accountability for their piece of the puzzle, they won’t have the level of responsibility you need to build a great team.”

 

 

Kelly Seidl
CTO, Cofounder

Seidl emphasizes both ownership and collaboration when managing junior leaders across the business. The bill payments company is currently halfway through a weekly, companywide management series to complement individual and team best practices.

 

First, briefly describe your management style.

I like to be engaged. I love to hire self-starters who are impact-oriented and passionate about what they do. With a team like that, management becomes more about caring about the team’s work and providing feedback. I like my relationship with my team to be one of collaboration. If we’re both doing our jobs, it’s a fun, engaging and supportive conversation!

 

As a leader of leaders, what strategy has been key for empowering the managers below you and supporting them in their growth?

It’s critical to ensure that managers are accountable and that we have mutual respect and trust. People need to be able to own their area. If they don’t feel ownership and accountability for their piece of the puzzle, they won’t have the level of responsibility you need to build a great team. I make a point with every conversation to talk about what is most important. While this may sound easy, the challenge comes when things aren’t running smoothly. The only way we get through it is when we focus on what’s important, allow space for collaboration and ensure that the team feels supported. The ultimate reward is when I see the people I work with every day treat team members in their groups the same way. Ultimately, it creates an environment of support, trust and accountability.

It’s critical to ensure that managers are accountable and that we have mutual respect and trust.’’

 

What formal training does your company offer developing leaders to help them grow and thrive in their roles as people managers?

BillGO offers a number of resources for leaders to grow. We are currently halfway through a companywide management series. Every Thursday morning, we pull the entire management team together to talk about the people side of leadership. A group of coaches who focuses on how to respond to situations with discipline leads these series. Not only has it helped us improve our performance, but it has given the company a shared language to discuss behaviors in a constructive manner. 

We’re also big readers at BillGO. We often share great books and articles with the group to encourage lifelong learners.

 

Doug Gesiorski
VP, Ad Operations

Adtaxi uses a companywide best practices approach to training new managers, rather than having each department handle things differently. For more experienced managers, Gesiorski’s main focus is ensuring they drive the digital marketing solution as frequently as possible.

 

First, briefly describe your management style.

My goal in managing the team is to ensure we work as a well-oiled machine and everyone moves in the same direction. This enables team managers to make decisions and own key initiatives without constant supervision. Because everyone takes greater ownership of their area, we work more efficiently and the work is more enjoyable. Excellent communication is key to achieving this.

 

As a leader of leaders, what strategy has been key for empowering the managers below you and supporting them in their growth?

It’s important to maintain consistent check-ins to discuss how things are progressing and to give managers an opportunity to ask questions. For newer managers, I might spend time coaching them on how to handle a given situation. I’ve had tremendous mentors throughout my career. I like to share things I learned from them and my own experiences in an effort to provide effective guidance. For managers with more experience, my role is to be more of a sounding board. I’ll provide advice as needed but generally I want to make sure they are driving the solution as much as possible.

For managers with more experience, my role is to be more of a sounding board.’’

 

What formal training does your company offer developing leaders to help them grow and thrive in their roles as people managers?

Our VP of training provides regular training sessions for new managers on topics like team development and navigating difficult conversations. What I particularly like about these sessions is that they’re conducted for new managers across different departments, so we’re creating best practices across the organization versus having each department handle things differently.

I think it is also worth noting that most of our management team has been promoted from within. We are constantly looking for opportunities to grow leaders from within the organization, and we stress that leadership is not a title. Anyone in any role in the company can participate in the opportunities laid out above and grow in their career.

 

Fintech company Reserve Trust has Federal Reserve access, allowing the team to create payment and banking platforms with scale, speed and cost. When it comes to developing top talent, their CEO says communication is key. 

 

First, briefly describe your management style.

I would describe my management style as empowered delegation with active collaboration. I empower my direct reports to make decisions and encourage them to surface issues early. When issues surface, I like to work with my colleagues to understand the issues, tradeoffs, risks and rewards. I trust that my colleagues have a deeper understanding and appreciation of their department and the subject matter, so I want to understand their thought process, see the data and hear their recommendations.

I also want to provide a broader perspective to the conversation and serve as a sounding board. I find that people have an inclination and need to talk through the issues to settle on a final decision. Then, I like to drive my colleagues to a decision. The worst decision is no decision.

 

As a leader of leaders, what strategy has been key for empowering the managers below you and supporting them in their growth?

Communication is key. While providing guardrails and clear guidance is essential to empowering others, no one can anticipate every circumstance that will arise. So a consistent forum for open communication is essential. I have found that weekly one-on-ones with every direct report provides the space necessary for surfacing issues, understanding blockers and providing the right resources or authority to move forward.

The worst decision is no decision.’’

 

What formal training does your company offer developing leaders to help them grow and thrive in their roles as people managers?

Currently, executives provide developing leaders consistent feedback to help them evolve and grow as people managers. This year we are investing in growing the team and training. I expect that we will incorporate training for developing leaders as the organization and number of people managers grows.

 

Rafat Shehadeh
Head of Global Construction, Procurement and Essentials

Shehadeh believes that Prologis is only as good as its people. With that mantra in mind, all employees have access to an internal training program to develop top talent. The logistics real estate company also gives team members the ability to pursue external learning opportunities.

 

First, briefly describe your management style.

The best way to describe it is a lead-from-the-trenches approach. My role is to provide feedback, support and guidance so that managers can realize their full potential and become more effective in their role. I also believe in constructive debate, which is trust-based. The key is to create a team that trusts each other so that they are comfortable sharing opposing views and discussing them in ways that lead to better solutions.   

 

As a leader of leaders, what strategy has been key for empowering the managers below you and supporting them in their growth?

I would say there are a handful of elements to that strategy. One is structuring around issues, which then enables prioritization and focus on the items that move the needle most. The second is helping them drive for insights and actionable implications, not just facts. The third is refining communication and collaboration, where each emerging leader has a specific way of work resulting in growth opportunities that they need to capitalize on so they become more effective leaders. And fourth is team spirit. The environment needs to be of trust, collaboration and mutual understanding, where the team gels like a musical band that can improvise on the fly.

We are committed to their growth and development, because we’re only as good as our people.’’

 

What formal training does your company offer developing leaders to help them grow and thrive in their roles as people managers?

Prologis offers a myriad of internal training programs through our Prologis Learning Center, ranging from hard and soft skills training to diving deeper into our individual business units within our organization. We also offer allowances for our team members to pursue external learning opportunities. We are committed to their growth and development, because we’re only as good as our people. 

Jobs from companies in this blog42 open jobs
All Jobs
Finance
Data + Analytics
Dev + Engineer
Internships
Marketing
Operations
Product
Project Mgmt
Sales
Finance
new
Prologis
Denver
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Data + Analytics
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Data + Analytics
new
Reserve Trust
Denver
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Sales
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Data + Analytics
new
Prologis
Denver
Product
new
BillGO
Remote
Sales
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Product
new
Prologis
Denver
Operations
new
Prologis
Denver
Operations
new
Reserve Trust
Denver
Finance
new
Prologis
Denver
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Marketing
new
Adtaxi
Denver
Internships
new
Prologis
Denver
Data + Analytics
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Sales
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Finance
new
Prologis
Denver
Operations
new
Prologis
Denver
Finance
new
Reserve Trust
Denver
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Developer
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Product
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Sales
new
Adtaxi
Denver
Marketing
new
Adtaxi
Denver
Sales
new
Adtaxi
Denver
Sales
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Operations
new
BillGO
Fort Collins
Project Mgmt
new
BillGO
Fort Collins

Colorado startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Denver & Boulder
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in Denver & Colorado Tech
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Colorado Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Women in Colorado Tech