On the Job with Ron Wallace

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

"On the Job With...." is a weekly feature of Sunday Inc. Today's session is with Ron Wallace, defense contractor and deputy site manager for Jacobs Inc.

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. I would network. This would consist of using the Internet and connecting with individuals in my chosen profession.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. I bought a watch.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. The most effective technique I have found is to enhance and maintain open lines of communication and information sharing with employees.

Q. What was your first job?

A. In high school, I was a sales clerk at a retail store in Arlington, VA.

Q. What led you to your current position?

A. After retiring from the Marine Corps, my wife and I decided to stay here in Albany for a while. Jacobs provided me with an opportunity to work in the field of logistics and support Marines.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. Several, but one comes to mind above the others. Stan Jozwiak was my boss very early in my Marine Corps career. He taught me what it meant to be a leader of Marines, and a professional logistician.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. I learned that while all companies have been forced to cut costs during this time period, top performers have done so, but not at the expense of customer service. Some companies immediately cut front line customer service positions. However, in tough economic times, customers in any industry look for value and a return on investment. If you do not engage your customer and show value, short term financial gains realized by budget cutting can erode the customer base and damage the company "brand" in the long run.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. Cell phones. I appreciate their value, but their use at inappropriate times seems to have gotten out of control.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. My Blackberry

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. "The Tipping Point" by Malcom Gladwell. I just started reading "$#*! My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern. It's a must read for all fathers. Daily, I read newspapers via the Internet and trade journals.

Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I'm usually up and going by 6:30. I check e-mails, and eat breakfast while taking my son to school at 7:30.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. I enjoy working on my lawn.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. I can't remember a specific decision, but I do remember that many times, early in my career, I made decisions too hastily, without all the facts. I think I do a better job of that now.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. Providing personal protective equipment (body armor and chemical suits and masks) support to the war fighter. Each day I know that our actions are protecting and saving the lives of Marines and Sailors at home or in harm's way.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. The air travel. I log about 50,000 miles each year.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Typing in high school. Everyone types now, but in college, if it was

paper typed, I was the "go to" guy.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. Easy. I would manage a Resort Hotel in the Caribbean.

Q. Finish this thought; "on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. Lying on a beach with my wife and listening to my iPod.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Judgment, especially in times of crisis and stress. The ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make sound decisions is priceless.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. I see continued slow growth for the next two years.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Anita Baker, R&B and jazz.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. I am hopeful that the biggest change Albany will see is a revitalized downtown.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken? Why?

A. A trip with my wife to Key West, Fla. The food was amazing and watching the sunset at Mallory Square was memorable.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. The biggest change has been the increased use of technology.