Earlier this year, Andrea Kunk was named president of Peerless Technologies Corporation after years of serving as its Chief Financial Officer. As the second employee of the Fairborn-based company, Kunk helped shepherd Peerless from a small start-up to a fast-growing firm with more than 500 employees across the U.S. We sat down with Andrea to talk about leadership, success and her biggest surprise as the new president.
You spent years as the Chief Financial Officer of Peerless. What has surprised you in your new role as President?
AK: The biggest surprise was how critical it is to constantly focus on how we grow the company. As CFO, I knew that growth was important, and my job was to ensure our business infrastructure could support our growth. As president, I proactively work with our team every day to ensure we take the right actions and make the appropriate decisions to drive growth. Growth is not just about increasing revenue, but building deeper technological capabilities, expanding our customer base, and providing our employees the opportunity to perform meaningful and satisfying work.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
AK: Having mentors, coaches, and partners around me to help me learn and grow. It’s been so important for me to have people who will consistently ask tough questions, encourage me to look at things a different way and challenge me to step outside my comfort zone.
How would companies benefit from having more women at the top?
AK: Being a good (or bad) leader is not gender-specific. However, companies that embrace all types of diversity in their leadership ranks benefit from the distinct strengths, points of view, and skill sets that each individual brings. In general, I think women bring strong problem-solving skills and are great mentors. Women frequently balance careers, households, and family life, and this ability to wear many hats leads to the ability to quickly assess and find solutions to various challenges.
How do you foster a positive work environment?
AK: Communication: Setting goals and expectations, sharing information, and welcoming feedback are critical to building trust. Flexibility: Giving employees the ability to accomplish their goals and meet customer missions while, to the greatest practical extent, providing flexibility in work environment and schedule. Collaborating with employees to give them the tools to meet their goals without micromanaging. Appreciation: Recognizing the great work that our team does and expressing appreciation for their successes. Understanding that our business is all about our people, and fostering an environment where employees feel valued.
What is the most important advice you would offer new leaders?
AK: Build a network. Reach out and start to form relationships with people in your industry and technical areas. Partnership and collaboration are important to success in not only our industry, but business in general. It may seem awkward to start the conversations, but people are generally very open to engage and want to help others grow, especially new leaders.
How do you take care of yourself and maintain mental health?
AK: I make sure to carve out quality time with my husband and two girls in the evenings and on weekends to rest, have fun, and recharge. Also, working out is key to my mental and physical health, so I schedule workout time on my calendar and stick to it.
Growth is not just about increasing revenue, but building deeper technological capabilities, expanding our customer base, and providing our employees the opportunity to perform meaningful and satisfying work.Andrea Kunk, President, Peerless Technologies Corporation