From submarines to software, meet our Chief Technology Officer and CEO, Gene Zylkuski. Gene started his tenure at QuickPivot 12 years ago as Vice President of Engineering. Gene studied physics at the University of Lowell, and after graduation joined the Navy, becoming a nuclear trained submarine officer. While on active duty, Gene obtained a master’s degree in nuclear engineering. He then became a Naval Intelligence Officer in the Navy Reserves and later obtained a master’s degree in operations research from The University of New Haven. We’re lucky to have him now at QuickPivot
Q: Describe what you were like at age 10.
I was kind of a geeky kid. I enjoyed taking things apart because I liked to see how things worked. I especially enjoyed model kits. I remember I had this metal Tonka truck that I mounted batteries to, taped a motor underneath and then put a pulley on the back wheel to motorize it.
Q: What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
The first thing is that I’m fanatical about fairness. People in general should be treated fairly. For example, everyone should earn a fair wage for what they do. When negotiating contracts or making a deal with someone, it’s important to me that everyone feels like they did not get cheated and it was a fair exchange.
Second thing is, seniority and years of experience shouldn’t always make you the sole decision-maker. You can’t assume you’re the smartest in the room and you can’t treat people like their opinion or facts are insignificant. You should always empower people to have a voice. This mindset has led me to learn about different industries and to better at my job.
This rolls into the third thing that I’ve learned: everyone has some value. My expectation is that if someone was able to get hired, it should be assumed they are capable of doing their job, and therefore, they will come in and do their job. Sometimes people are misaligned with the right job for them. In this case, managers should look to find the value that the individual can add to the organization and put them in a role that sets them up for success.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I have always been a problem solver and I like that I’m still able to come into the office every day and do that. It could be anything. Yes, I’m very technical and I like to solve technical problems, but it could be “how will we fit this many people in this section of the office” or “how do we make sure that Timmy feels valued in his position.” I get satisfaction out of solving a problem, and then being able to move on to the next one.
Q: Why is right now an exciting time to join our team?
I think QuickPivot has spent a long time trying to find our way here. I think we’ve finally figured out what we want to be “when we grow up” as a company. We’ve found ourselves with the right set of capabilities, people and technology to be a leader in the emerging market called Customer Data Platform. A year and a half ago this space didn’t even have a name, now more and more marketers are starting to realize they need the system and capabilities we provide. People are starting to realize that we have product and services that will help them achieve their goals.
Q: What is your proudest moment at QuickPivot?
When SmartSource first merged with Extraprise to form QuickPivot, we had two offices. I worked in the smaller of the two and only came into the main office a handful of times. When the two locations consolidated, at the start of 2018, I had no rapport or relationship with most people in the Boston office – despite working with the company for 12 years! I had to actively make an effort to reach out to employees outside of my department and give them a chance to get to know me. Fast forward 9 months, and one day I had a group of people come up to me to talk with me about our company’s strategy. When I shared the feedback with their department head, she was shocked that they had felt comfortable enough to come to me because they weren’t usually the ones to ask questions publicly. That was probably my proudest moment because I realized I had become a leader that employees felt comfortable being honest and open with.