Aaron Phillips has been named Managing Partner at Decision Associates. Ten words. Thirty-five years. The baton has passed, the fresh runner surges.
I've known and worked with Aaron since 1999. At that time, he worked for BJ Lechner at Dana's Brake Parts Division. He was fresh out of Penn State, where he played football (I believe Penn State has other sports, but...). I liked Aaron. He brought intensity and a drive to get-stuff-done.
Aaron did get stuff done and was clearly a future leader. He was selected to be a member of the first Leadership program at Brake Parts. I was the instructor and it was intentionally a boot camp experience. It gave him the fundamentals and he ran with it from there.
After Brake Parts, Aaron went to the Erie times and his leadership led him to the executive office, Vice President of HR and Administration, the number two seat. In late 2015, the Times was being sold and Aaron gave me a call, "Don, I've always been interested in working at Decision Associates. A few years ago, you told me to get a little more experience. I did and I'm calling back."
Hiring Aaron was an easy decision. Aaron earned his way at every stage of his career. His intensity has never slowed, and his capabilities have grown and deepened. Aaron has certainly earned his way at Decision Associates. When introduced to our long-term clients, he earned their trust; when introduced to prospects, he won them over to become new clients. Just as important, he earned the respect and trust of his fellow staff at Decision Associates.
So, naming Aaron Phillips to be the first new Managing Partner in 35 years was simply an acknowledgment of the leadership that he had already assumed. And, that's the way I've always believed it should be done. In that first class I taught in 2003, I told every person in the room, "You don't get named to a leadership position; you earn the respect of those around you and they treat you as a leader. Management's job is to formalize what has already occurred." Interestingly enough, some of Aaron's classmates also run companies and are clients of ours.
Those readers who have long experience with me and Decision Associates have asked, "Can you really let go?" It is a skeptical question, with the implication that the only answer was, "No." I've prepared for this transition and methodically stepped back from the Managing Partner role over a period of many months, well before there was a formal transfer. Aaron didn't need a title to prove himself, his leadership spoke to everyone. He stepped up and I stepped back. We made it formal in March, but it was earned well before that.
There is another message here, one that is very clear: Decision Associates has a long future, and no one here is slowing down. Everyone is focused on existing clients, new clients, new services, new geographies, the next hire, and of course, our next Strategic Plan.