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TITANS OF INDUSTRY


damaging the core of what we were doing, and at the same time we salvaged investment for other areas of the world.”


The numbers game


Having such innate financial acumen and insight is not always par for the course in a modern business leader, but Pyle’s background in accountancy has been invaluable to him in his career. Born in Ohio, he grew up splitting his time between Pennsylvania and Florida, which he still considers home. Before attending Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Pyle thought he wanted to be a lawyer. “I’d watch lawyers in action on TV shows, but I quickly came to realise it wasn’t the same in real life,” he says. “I couldn’t hone in on any part of the law that I wanted to focus on. But I had always had an interest in business. After a semester or two pursuing law I realised I didn’t want to do that, and it just felt natural for me to go into accounting. Accounting gave me a platform or an opportunity to be involved in virtually all areas of a business.”


Having worked for accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche, Pyle spent eight years as controller, operations manager and finally general manager for Alliance Remanufacturing. “I started in the financial area as the controller and then, maybe because we had some successes, other opportunities were afforded to me. “I was fortunate enough by the end of my first eight years with Alliance, that I was actually the deputy general manager of a facility. Did I predict that would have happened eight years earlier? No, I didn’t. I never even thought about it, but when you have that experience base and then you have a desire to make some impact, those opportunities can be afforded to you.


“I never sought out a person’s job or a role to say, OK, I’m the controller now, but I want to run HR, or I want to run materials. It was more a case of saying, ‘I’m focused on my responsibility


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“I couldn’t hone in on any part of the law that I wanted to focus on. But I had always had an interest in business”


right now, but I’ve got an eye towards advancement and I want to make sure people know that if opportunities come and I can help, I’m available’. Alliance has afforded me that opportunity. “If I go back to when I first assumed my previous role as VP of international sales, I had no previous sales experience. I had the customer impact side, but no sales experience whatsoever. So, here’s Alliance, the largest commercial manufacturer in the world, their number one initiative is to grow internationally and they’re going to pick this accountant who has no sales experience whatsoever? That is a huge step for the company and I say that because I do feel very fortunate. I have a lot of appreciation for Mike Schoeb our CEO, who took that shot with me. That, again, is why Alliance is unique.” So, what qualities does Pyle feel Schoeb saw in him at that time to offer him the role of president of Alliance International?


“I will tell you, I had some questions or concerns about the role. I actually asked Mike Schoeb: ‘Why am I the guy for this?’ He said to me: ‘You have the ability to get things done’. It’s not a lot more elaborate or sexy than that. The world is filled with experienced vice president-level sales people. But what he said gave me the comfort level to think, ‘OK I can do this’.” And with that last, modest self-


assessment, Pyle is off to plan the itinerary for his next trip. I find myself hoping that the Skype connection is a good one up in Scotland and that he’s keeping up to date with his airline loyalty points. Having had an insight into his attention to detail, one suspects he’s already got both of these covered.


PYLE ON LEARNING THE BUSINESS LESSONS


“I’ve learned a lot more from my failures than I have from my successes. If you have an open mind about that, you’re always going to learn something. So, one of my early lessons was to actually come to the understanding that ‘I don’t know it all’. I’m not expected to know it all; even in the role I’m in today.


“If I have a plan, it’s going to get a certain amount of traction and have a certain amount of success chance. But if there’s clarity on the goal and there’s a collaborative effort in terms of how to get there, we have a lot better a shot of, not just avoiding conflicts, but it actually succeeding - if there’s more than one person either pushing the rope or pulling on the weight.


“I have expectations on me that are different from others, just like everyone does in their particular position. Much of my job is to make sure we have put the right people in place and given them the right tools and resources and ability to manage that business within the framework of what the company does and what we need to do. I’m not the expert in Asia, I’m not the expert in Brazil, but it’s my job to make sure I have one in each of these places.


“My early mistakes were to think, ‘I’m a smart guy, I’ve been successful, I know this worked over here so it must work over there, here’s what we’re going to do’. And, well, you learn the hard way sometimes on these things.”


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