Although born and raised in Calabria, Italy, Marco De Bartolo admits a small piece of his heart always belonged to the Great White North. The son of a Canadian mother and Italian father, he relocated across the pond in 2010 to pursue a career in sales while exploring his adopted homeland. He landed a job at Univar Canada in 2011, one of the world’s leading chemical distribution companies, and currently serves as Senior Account Manager for Northern Ontario. He’s responsible for overseeing a vast swath of territory that stretches from Sudbury all the way up to the tiny rural towns peppered along Highway 11, just north of Timmins.
Last year, De Bartolo decided it was time to sharpen his negotiation skills. He enrolled in the DeGroote School of Business’ Executive Management Program, and says the experience has already paid dividends. Below, De Bartolo talks about his day-to-day experiences on the job, as well as how studying at DeGroote has improved his ability to close major deals out in the field:
What are your primary duties as Senior Account Manager at Univar? What does a typical day entail?
I spend a lot of time travelling. I’m responsible for growing our sales in the northeastern area of Ontario, which as you know is pretty big. My focus usually involves the mining industry, specifically base metals and gold, but I also reach out to water treatment plants, municipalities, and companies in the pulp and paper industry. I organize my schedule on a monthly basis and reorganize it as things evolve. I basically offer a direct connection between Univar’s Toronto office and our customers in some pretty remote areas up north.
How did you first hear about the Executive Management Program at DeGroote? What attracted you to it?
The first time I heard about it was actually through a colleague at Univar. I’m always trying to expand my knowledge and learn about best practices from other professionals. I started looking into the program and noticed a lot of the language – things like “managing, planning, and executing strategies” – really intrigued me. That’s when I knew I wanted to enroll and earn a Certificate of Completion.
Which courses did you take and what were some of the highlights?
I selected five courses from the program – Coaching Skills for Leaders; High Impact Strategic Planning; Fundamentals of Finance for Decision Making; Best Practices in Strategy Execution; and Creative and Innovative Problem Solving. A professor could expand on those topics for weeks or months, but I felt each one-day class was informative and worthwhile. Nothing felt rushed. All of the classes were well-organized and the instructors were great, especially Alex Lowy. Both of his classes [High Impact Strategic Planning and Best Practices in Strategy Execution] were very engaging, and we quickly learned how to develop and implement the key points that were being covered.
You earned your Certificate of Completion in November 2016. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve been able to apply to your career?
I gained a lot of confidence when it came to approaching negotiations. In fact, one of my clients said he noticed a change in my demeanor not long after completing the program. I’ve also become better at asking the right questions and listening carefully to a client’s needs and expectations. Many of the projects I work on are very challenging, and some of them are fairly new for us. They require having a great understanding of the customer’s needs, and being able to tailor Univar’s infrastructure and service methods to meet those specific needs. After I finished the Best Practices in Strategy Execution class, for example, I was able to obtain specific information from a customer with greater ease, which allowed me to establish trust. Overall, the skills I gained at DeGroote helped me become more disciplined in my approach to business.
Would you refer the Executive Management Program to other area professionals?
Absolutely. For those with a few years of professional experience who are looking to advance their careers, the Executive Management Program is a very good option. It’s the perfect program for those who already have an understanding of how their industry works, and also how it’s changing. From day one, I really took notice of Chris Anstead [Director, Executive Education, 2015 – 2018], Lynn Petruzzella [Program Manager, Executive Education] and the rest of the staff, specifically their dedication to the program and its students.
DeGroote’s Executive Management Program provides an intense look at topics such as strategic planning, organizational change management, leadership, performance management, and finance. Each one-day program is designed for mid-to-senior-level managers, and provides participants with a toolkit of resources that are applicable and relevant. Students have the option of choosing a single course or a package of three or five courses. There are no prerequisites to enrol. For more information regarding enrolment, please contact Lynn Petruzzella, Program Manager, Executive Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.