Approximately 70 participants logged into Zoom on Feb. 18, for “Forging New Frontiers: Women Leaders in the Pest Control Industry.” The Professional Women in Pest Management of New England chapter (PWIPM of NE) hosted the free webinar.
Panelists included Eve Pappas, VP of corporate sales and good will ambassador for Hoffman’s Exterminating, Mantua, N.J., and a member of the national PWIPM council; Marillian Missiti, second-generation president of Buono Pest Control Co., Belmont, Mass., and treasurer of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA); and Sheri Spencer Bachman, ACE, owner of Spencer Pest Services, Greenville, S.C., and the consulting firm Pest Control Business Coach.
Courtney Carace, ACE, COO of Pest-End Inc., Methuen, Mass., served as moderator for the trio of panelists. During the meeting, it was announced that Carace was named PWIPM of NE’s Woman of the Year, with formal recognition to be given during the New England Pest Management Association’s (NEPMA’s) Spring Training event in early March.
In a lively hour that included questions from attendees, highlights included:
Pappas, who is celebrating her fourth decade in the industry this year, shared the key to success is having a mentor. “What is your end goal? What do you want to accomplish? A mentor can help you do this.” She stressed that a good mentor will coach you to have the confidence to take chances, and has the benefit of knowledge to help you succeed. But you need to take the first steps. “How can I score any baskets if I’m sitting on the bench,” Pappas added. She took the team metaphor a step further, explaining “It’s not about what I do, but what other people do, the team.”
Bachman said the best way to find a mentor who will be a good fit for you is to interview them as you would an employee. “Are they the right fit? What is their experience?” she offered as an example. “Also, one mentor isn’t enough. Everyone has different strengths, bringing different things to the table.” As a way of giving back, Bachman added, she is a mentor to several people in the industry.
Missiti agreed that getting involved helps others in addition to yourself. “Start on a committee, locally,” she said. “Start small. Network, prepare and educate yourself.” She pointed out that focusing on something you’re passionate about, such as training, is great, but sometimes you should try things outside your comfort zone. Government affairs may not be your forte, for example, but by trying and learning, you gain experience and knowledge about it.
All three panelists stressed that delegation is important — although they advised not to delegate anything you wouldn’t be willing to roll up your sleeves and do yourself. It’s important to “empower your people,” Bachman said.
“You worry whether they can do it as well as you. But if you don’t let them try, you’re hurting yourself, and you’re not letting them grow,” she added. “In some cases, they can do it a whole lot better! It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”
Missiti noted that as your business grows, “things will get neglected” if you don’t start delegating regularly. “You can’t do it all,” she pointed out.
“And once I let it go, it was a game-changer. I can’t believe I didn’t do it a long time ago.”
Pappas said that in many cases, it’s a matter of reframing in your mind what your business really is. “This isn’t my show, it’s our show,” she said. “Get in the field and show what you can do to help them. Walk the walk with them. You can’t dictate stuff, you’ve got to spend the time to get to know your people and what goes on with them and their families. You’re just the coach calling the plays; they’re the ones executing it.
“Surround yourself with great people,” she added, “and great things will happen.”
During the webinar, both panelists and attendees recommended several books that could be helpful to business owners. (Editor’s Note: Thanks go to PWIPM of NE Co-Chair Kelley Altland, Bell Labs, for compiling the list.):
- Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
- Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
- Leading Without Authority: How the New Power of Co-Elevation Can Break Down Silos, Transform Teams, and Reinvent Collaboration
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
- The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups
- Bring Yourself: How to Harness the Power of Connection to Negotiate Fearlessly
- Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong