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A Discussion with Alex Fortunati On the Art of Proper Communication

Alex Fortunati was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At age two Alex’s family emigrated to the Virginia area of the United States where Alex was raised for several years before his family relocated to Rome, Italy. His first language was English, and Alex learned Italian at a young age prior to moving back to Argentina […]

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Alex Fortunati
Alex Fortunati

Alex Fortunati was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At age two Alex’s family emigrated to the Virginia area of the United States where Alex was raised for several years before his family relocated to Rome, Italy. His first language was English, and Alex learned Italian at a young age prior to moving back to Argentina where he studied and learned his third language of Spanish.

Alex did his high schooling and early college years in Argentina, before deciding to move back to the United States at 23 with his wife and first-born child in order to pursue his career as an entrepreneur.

1.What do you do, and what does a typical day look like for you?

I am the CEO of a large industrial service company with 400 employees and multiple locations throughout southern California. We provide multiple industrial services for mainly the construction and events industry. We provide temporary fencing, electrical work, disposal of construction waste, storage containers, septic tank routing and services, as well as portable toilets.

A typical day for me begins very early as I arrive at work at approximately 7 am. During the first hour of the day I review the planning from the day before and prepare for the meetings that will take place that day. I usually have about 2-3 meetings per day, and my day is a mix of monitoring, analyzing reports, responding to emails, and so forth. I respond to maybe 40-50 emails per day with a direct response and my day moves quickly due to so many ongoing activities. I try to minimize distractions throughout the day to remain efficient but that doesn’t always work. I typically arrive home by around 7:30 pm each night.

2.How did you first get started in the Executive Management sector of the facility services industry?

Around 35 years ago I was working as a recruiter for a staffing company, and I usually recruited for clients who spoke Spanish. I ended up always looking for more opportunities to work, and I was referred to a facility service company in Santa Monica. I got a job to become a janitor with this company and I eventually became a fulltime employee. I worked my way up this company to become involved with a supervisor role within a few months, and I later became the Assistant Director of Operations after working with the company for two years.

3.In the 30 plus years you have worked in the facility services what has been the biggest change and how did you adapt to this change?

The constant advancement computers and technology is the one big change that has radically changed every industry. We went from having manual schedules and manual reporting which is now automated through customizable software. Management has become much more productive in the analytical side and the result side by having a better direction of how we manage people and results due to the advancement of customizable software.

The biggest change has been the technology and understanding how it affects the people, processes, and infrastructure. It has been consistent and has required companies to remain vigilant and on top of the changes.

4. What is your leadership style, and how did you determine this to be the most effective leadership style?

When I was younger and a little bit more insecure, I was more distant from people. I thought that I would provide orders, guidance, instruction, and let people do their jobs. My style was much more of directing people at a distance, but as one grows and matures you start to understand that you need to build relationships with your colleagues. You need to work on the personal skills and communication, so I decided to look into how to increase my communication skills which has been an ongoing process.

My style has evolved from a leader who provides orders to a leader who is more supportive and interested in the individuals I am leading. I am now someone who is interested in people and more of a supporter and I want to make sure they are provided good instructions, guidance, and communication so that they can feel they are a part of a team. My style is now more supportive and through the last 15 years I have continued to do this.

5. How do you manage balancing your commitments between the Boards you serve and being a CEO of corporation?

Good time management skills, this is super important that one has a way to manage time by proper planning. Proper planning goes into your daily routine, your short-term, medium-term, and long-term processes. The more you know your schedule and the more you work at it, the more you can dig deep and manage the time that you have and can manage multiple things. I try to minimize the downtime as to not waste time and if you are able to do this you are able to do a lot more than you think.

6. How do you motivate others?

Motivation is something that we must work on, and it starts with one’s self. We need to be self-motivated as leaders and need to find good knowledge in knowing ourselves first. As leaders we need to show we are productive, accountable, and good communicators so that we can influence others with our actions. If we have a commitment to communication people tend to pick up on this and have the willingness to support and be motivated.

7. What has been the largest hurdle of your career, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest hurdle is that as a leader and entrepreneur I find myself thinking at a higher velocity and thinking at 100 miles an hour. When you are doing this, you are not a good listener as you get wrapped up in your own thinking and we try to listen, but we don’t. My biggest hurdle is slowing down and listening more, and when we do this, we become better communicators. Through the years I have become a better leader and deal with this by becoming a better listener.

8. How do you approach change?

Regarding leadership and managing people, processes, and results, you have to embrace the change. A lot of people will resist change and avoid it, I embrace change and am flexible and adaptable. It is a constant, so it is important we learn to embrace change.

9. Besides your career, what defines you as a person?

Above all I am a family man and I am somebody who deeply cares about understanding people, the world, and understanding my thoughts of others by elevating my empathy. I try to comprehend my fellow human beings by looking for peace and harmony.

10. What qualities does a successful CEO have, and how did you master these qualities?

The number one thing that a CEO needs to have is integrity. It has to be the highest item on this list. You can have skills, languages, emotional intelligence, but the number one thing to be a good leader is to have good integrity.

I think that being a doer is very important as well. You have to get the ball rolling, you have to plan, and you have to have tenacity. You need to combine all of these things together to become the leader that an organization needs. You need to be able to keep your word and use that word as seal of approval and that your word means something.

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