Wilmington ‘Power Panel’: Embrace change, risk and the unexpected - Technical.ly Delaware


Sep. 11, 2015 12:45 pm

Wilmington ‘Power Panel’: Embrace change, risk and the unexpected

At the Thursday event, local business leaders offered up advice for young professionals charting their course in today's volatile environment.

At Thursday's "Power Panel."

(Photo by Holly Quinn)

Successful people will be the first to tell you that the road to success is full of twists and turns — and the occasional pothole.

That was a key takeaway from the Young Professionals of the United Way of Delaware’s “Power Panel” on Thursday, Sept. 10. The event featured seven local business leaders and was moderated by Technical.ly’s very own Tony Abraham.

“It used to be that you went to school, got a job,” said Carol Arnott Robbins of M&T Securities. “Statistics now say that the average person changes jobs about every five to seven years.”

Change isn’t always voluntary, Arnott Robbins learned that firsthand when her job was eliminated several years ago. “I could have stayed, but leaving, without another job to go to, was the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I discovered entrepreneurial skills didn’t know I had.”

“Change is good,” said Paul McConnell of McConnell Johnson Real Estate and 1313 Innovation“Embrace and attack change. You can’t be successful unless you come to grips with change. You have to be uncomfortable sometimes.”

Rosa M. Colon-Kolacko, the vice president of the Learning Institute and chief diversity officer at Christiana Care, agreed. “You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” she said, adding that, early on, she went against the advice of everyone she knew and moved from Puerto Rico to England for an opportunity that altered her life and career.


“Stick to your guns and trust your intuition,” she said. “I was there for four years instead of one and defied the odds.”

Success is about calculated risk and being open to making those changes, or pivots, that can mean the difference between success and stagnation.

“I pivot every day, multiple times a day,” said Hal Real, of World Café Live. “The first year, we were ‘building the plane in flight.’ That’s scary. In my world, you have a business plan and do the best you can, but once you open you better be on your surfboard. You can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

For LaTisha Bracy, director of outreach and special projects for Sen. Chris Coons, change means discovering her strengths. “I had no idea what I wanted to do when I started in the Senate,” she said. “I was just happy to be there. Then you realize that you’re not happy to be here anymore, and you research and grow from there.”

Michelle Basham, CEO of YWCA of Delaware, relocated to Delaware from Minnesota in 2004, a huge change that was necessary for the goals of her nonprofit work. To excel in your career, it’s important to “follow your heart, not your pocketbook. I’ve known many people who went for the money and wound up unhappy.”

But the biggest catalyst for success is to keep going, even when things don’t go as expected. “When you get back up, that’s where you’re going to learn,” said Michael DaGrossa of Essextec BRS. “If you don’t believe in yourself, people will see through it. If you’re in it, you’re in it.”

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