Linda Descano, CFA®, President and CEO,
Michele Falzon began her career as a teacher. One summer early into her career, however, she decided to help out at her grandfather’s business. What was meant to be a six-week temporary gig turned into a new career, which took her from secretary to the president and owner of F.W. Gartner Thermal Spraying, which provides surface engineering and coating solutions for various industrial settings including refining, power plants, and applications for turbines. Here are Michele’s thoughts on what it takes to run a successful business.
What were you doing before you began working for your family’s business? Before I joined F.W. Gartner Thermal Spraying, I was a teacher. Although the roles seem very different, there is some similarity. In effect, I try to keep order, keep us moving in the right direction, offer constructive feedback, and keep us stable.
What’s the key to running a successful enterprise? You need broad shoulders to succeed as an entrepreneur because you have to wear many hats. You also have to see the big picture as well as the details, without getting too bogged down in the nitty gritty. Even though you own the business, you are only one piece of it. You may have the final say but you won’t have all the answers. It’s so important to have the ‘right’ people in the ‘right’ position giving you the ‘right’ information so that you can make the best decision possible at the time.
What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur? Believe in what you are doing, and bring passion to your work every day, specially a passion for people because they are your main asset, regardless of what business you are in.
Who is your financial role model? My grandfather was a role model in both business and with money. He lived through the depression and taught us to be grateful for what we have today because it may not be as good tomorrow. My parents were also great role models. They were on the same page when it came to saving. We weren’t a family of spenders and believed that you saved until you could afford to buy it.
What words do you live by? I believe in the golden rule, from Matthew 7:12: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
In a word, what does money mean to you? Comfort.