New Gwinnett Chamber’s CEO’s top priority is listening

New Gwinnett Chamber’s CEO’s top priority is listening

As featured in the Summer 2019 issue of The Executive, an online magazine featuring members of Gwinnett Chamber’s Chairman’s Club. 

Gwinnett Chamber President & CEO, Nick Masino

Over the last 25 years, Nick Masino has cultivated a unique list of professional experience. He has managed private sector businesses, served in public office as the mayor of Suwanee and, for the past 12 years, led the economic development efforts for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Partnership Gwinnett. On July 1, 2019 Masino added President and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber to his leadership resume. Masino answered questions about what Chairman’s Club members can expect from him in his new role.

Q: How is running the Chamber different than other leadership roles you’ve held?

A: Where we are right now in the life of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce organization, I think I will most need to lean on the business development and business management roles I’ve had in the past, but really, this position will benefit from the trifecta that is my experience. When I served as Mayor of Suwanee, my focus was setting policy and making sure the right people were in the right roles. In my for-profit business experience, I focused on driving revenue. My role as Economic Development Officer for the Chamber was a hybrid of my public service and business experience in which I drove the growth of business and the organization. The whole of my 25 years of experience has led to this. I really feel like I have the ideal background to be CEO.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when you take office?

A: Being a leader for any organization is first and foremost about the employees and the staff, so the first thing I’m going to do is listen and be gathering information from my team. My first 90 days will be focused on internal employee-centric matters. I plan to meet individually with each of the 29 employees to see what they think is working and what needs to be tweaked. I want to hear what each person thinks and make sure there’s trust among the staff. You’re only as good as your team and I want the team to know that I know that. Nothing speaks louder than actions.The second quarter will be more external. I’ve received dozens and dozens of external meeting requests. That started as soon as my selection was announced, so I know there are a lot of people wanting to meet with me, but I think it’s very important to prioritize meeting with my team. There will be time for everyone.

Q: What is your vision for the Gwinnett Chamber?

A: I want to be super focused on giving attention to local businesses as well as supporting government policy to make sure the county stays business friendly. I plan to listen very carefully to what our businesses have to say. What I’ve heard a lot of recently is the need for more transit options in the community. I’ve been told very clearly that there needs to be connectivity not only throughout our local area, but to the greater Atlanta region, too. It needs to be easy to get to and from work. I see us working closely on transit policy with local government and the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, which is the new transit agency that is bringing together all the transit authorities across the region.

Q: What goals do you have for your first year in office?

A: Internally, my goals are to get people in the right place, lining staff up with the jobs that best suit them and where they can best serve our members. Externally, I want to make sure the chamber embraces concierge service to our members and fulfills our mission to strengthen existing businesses, facilitate the growth of quality job opportunities, and enrich the community’s quality of life. I want to grow investments through our partnerships and initiatives and drive international business growth as well.But really, my plan going into my first year is to listen. Most of my goals will be based on what I hear from the staff in my first quarter as CEO. I’ll adapt and adjust our budget for 2020 based on what I’ve learned.

Q: How will you measure your success?

A: We’ll look at the traditional key performance indicators like engagement from members, including growth in membership numbers and the number of folks attending our events. We’ll ask ourselves are we growing jobs and investments? Are we still a great place to work? I also want to apply for a Great Places to Work designation, maybe next year, to see how we score against our peers.

Q: What are the challenges you expect to encounter in this role?

A: People are, in general, nervous about change, about the unknown. Now, people know me, I’ve been working with the Chamber for 12 years; these are my coworkers. I have a strong reputation within the community, too – I’m very dedicated and I work hard. I think once everyone realizes that my number one priority is them and I build that trust, nerves and fear won’t be an issue anymore.We are going to do things people like, maybe do more of them. But we are going to try new things, too; things that might look a little different, but could lead to something great. I’d ask members to be patient with me and wait six to 12 months before they pass judgement on how we’re doing.

Q: What do you expect to be the most rewarding aspect of this new role?

A: When I look back on my career at the memorable and important moments, they all have to do with mentoring; helping others grow in their careers and watching them succeed. The most rewarding part of my role as CEO is 100% about developing the future leaders of the Chamber. It is about developing the talent in our team.

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