Motivate and encourage. People want to be inspired! A great example of inspiration is when Steve Jobs stole the CEO from Pepsi. He asked him “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest your life or do you want to change the world?” To motivate and encourage is to be able to show the big picture. Helping people see beyond a narrow focus and understanding how their part fits into the big picture can be so rewarding.
I had the pleasure to interview Saundra Merollo. Saundra is the senior sales engineer for strategic accounts for Sharp Information and Imaging Company of America. Key roles include putting together display solutions, building relationships with strategic end users and resellers and supporting Sharp’s channel business and end user engagement. Saundra has more than 15 years in the technology, integration and audiovisual industry and has received numerous awards and accolades for her attention to operational efficiencies and customer service. She is passionate about keeping up with display industry trends, needs and solutions. Her past experience includes management roles at LG Electronics, TMC and HP, to name a few. Saundra holds a BBA in Business from Temple University as well as numerous IT, cloud networking and audio-visual technical certifications. She has written numerous articles on topics ranging from the benefits of using digital signage over traditional signage to ways to use digital signage to drive consumer behavior and she has been published in AV Network magazine as well as the Think Big newsletter.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’m not really sure how I ended up where I am — right here, right now. While in college, I started working for a very large cable company in telesales, selling Internet access and security to businesses. I was a nursing student with the goal of becoming a cardiac thoracic transplant nurse. I guess you could say I love systems and solutions — putting things together, taking them apart and making them work again. Little did I know at the time that I would be doing it in the world of IT/ AV versus the human body. I continued to take more business classes and slowly removed myself from the operating room little by little. I may not be transplanting hearts, but I do put together solutions and systems, make things work and teach people about technology. It is truly exciting and ever-changing. No regrets on this side!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I’ve been in both the IT and the AV industry since I began in the workforce. I’ve been here at Sharp now for 5 1/2 years. I believe Sharp stands out from others because they are about the people. They invest in teaching and connecting with their employees, our partners, end users, and community. Our teams create unbreakable relationships. It’s fairly common to be at our Corporate US headquarters in NJ and see our executive team mixing and mingling during lunch with employees of all positions.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are working on so many exciting new solutions! We continue to work closely with partners, building solutions for the workforce to meet today’s needs, as well as the future.
In my division, we have a big focus on the “smart office.” With IoT and the blend of generations in the workforce, it’s all about the connected spaces. Lots of cool stuff so please follow us on LinkedIn for updates.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I’ve learned a lot, especially in the last two years. Some of those lessons have been very hard but most valuable. Teams thrive based on leadership, the culture and the environment created around them. Teams thrive best when aligned. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Being aggressive and passionate can be a great asset, but be careful it doesn’t come across as arrogant and unapproachable
- Speak with purpose, and not just to be heard
- Remember that not everyone’s personality styles are the same. Learn to manage each one and adjust your style as needed.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
- Quality of time vs. quantity with your team. Leverage resources and remember to delegate. As women, we tend to want to do it all ourselves.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had many mentors in my life, and I’m very grateful. There have been many people who have believed in me and never gave up. People who have frustrated me while continuing to push me to the next level and to look at things differently. Every story has a lesson. I’m sorry I cannot just pick one. So many have made me who I am today, and many will continue to make me a wiser person for tomorrow.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Gee, this is a tough question. I’m not sure about goodness to the world, but I do hope I’ve inspired people to believe in themselves, both men and women. Do not be intimidated, and always be confident in who you are. Know your strengths and adapt to your audience. Learn from everyone you meet. I hope as I share stories about my success, the cool projects I have worked on and the technology I have the opportunity to learn about, I will inspire younger generations to have a passion and interest in this industry.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Motivate and encourage. People want to be inspired! A great example of inspiration is when Steve Jobs stole the CEO from Pepsi. He asked him “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest your life or do you want to change the world?” To motivate and encourage is to be able to show the big picture. Helping people see beyond a narrow focus and understanding how their part fits into the big picture can be so rewarding.
- Model the way. People don’t always believe what they hear from leaders, but what they see from leaders. It’s important to set an example for others by behaving in the ways that are consistent with your values and the values of your organization.
- Communication. Listening, delegating clearly, verbal and non-verbal communication skills are essential for leadership. Not everyone’s communication style is the same and that’s very important to consider
- The importance of collaboration. Encouraging others to work together, rather than alone, can result in higher productivity, greater overall success, improved processes and lift morale. You do not need to be the know-it-all. Listen to what others have to say and give them opportunities to provide input. This is definitely a best practice amongst our leadership here at Sharp.
- Work Life balance. As hard as it is to put your phone down, try to disconnect for a day, everyone needs to recharge!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You asked for one quote but I’m going to give you two:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
I interact with people all day long internally and externally, at many levels within companies. Think about how many people you interact with in a single day. If I don’t build a rapport, become relatable, gain trust, exchange smiles, then how else do I stand out? Let’s face it — it’s always nice to feel important and have someone “connect” with you. For me, it’s just not about representing the great company I work for, but also about branding myself for future growth, whatever that may be.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” — Maimonides.
I will relate this back to some of my daily activities as an example. I do many trainings and speaking events positioning Sharp’s products in the industry. Sure, it’s easier to just give the sales pitch, but providing the understanding of the positioning — the why, the strategy and skills, goes back to building passion, excitement and influence.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I’m going to go with Mark Cuban. I was just having a conversation with my 12-year-old son, Roman, on work ethics and values, and how success in life requires hard work and focus. You can imagine the eye rolling during that conversation. Roman loves basketball and basketball shoes. I told him how Mark was just 12 years old himself when he made money to buy a pair of expensive basketball shoes that he wanted by selling trash bags. In addition to many of Mark’s success stories, he is also an owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team. Roman’s favorite quote now is one from Mark Cuban: Once you have found out what you love to do, there is only one goal: to be the best in the world at it.