A Conversation with Richard Paessler

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How did you get into financial planning and investing?

I started my career in aviation and worked as a project manager, performing system life-cycle analytics, failure mode analytics, and was responsible for a segment of the technical operation called Continuous Analysis and Surveillance of Systems (CASS). Later, I was responsible for the company-wide deployment of new leading-edge safety programs. During this time, I had a lot of experience with federal regulators and compliance issues, and received advanced training in continuous improvement and systems/process optimization. 

The airline I was working for — Pinnacle — went into bankruptcy, and I thought I’d be moving on to a job in Charlotte. While I was preparing to leave, I was approached by the owners of Telarray and offered the opportunity to change industries and focus on optimizing Telarray’s compliance systems and organizational efficiencies. My previous training and experience proved incredibly valuable and relevant, and the rest is history. 

I love coming to work every day to see the impact we have in clients’ lives, and our team inspires me to continually push myself to improve. It is the most fulfilling thing, aside from being a parent, that I have done in my life.

What is your greatest career success?

I am delighted that Telarray has been recognized by the Memphis Business Journal as one of 2020’s Best Places to Work. We strive to provide an atmosphere for people to flourish, but also to receive support when they need it. We push for those in the firm to increase their knowledge through training and certifications, which we pay for.

For me personally, this win points to the reality that all of the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve put in have given the team a real sense of belonging and the vision of a future they want to be a part of. A mentor of mine early in my career once told me, “Never mistake a tool for a process, and never mistake a process for your people.” I consider this some of the most valuable advice I have ever received as a leader.

What has been the most significant learning experience in your career?

Well, 2020 is a bit of an obvious answer, but what a year!

Going back to my aviation experience, I remember sitting in my mentor’s office (he was Vice President of Technical Operations), discussing events that were occurring in one of our maintenance facilities that were clearly not in line with company practices. I dumped the info on him, thinking I had done a good job. He quietly asked me to close the door, and taught me a painful lesson: Never show up without a solution, and always be solution-minded. When I began to think about solutions rather than just problems, my professional approach changed completely. That solution mindset has leveraged the rest of my career.

When people you have worked with talk about you, what do they say?

I know that I can be difficult to catch up with, and sometimes it is hard to know what I want. Both of these valid critiques are learning opportunities for me. And, going back to that solution mindset from above: I want people to think and solve problems for themselves. I hope my co-workers know I will do everything in my power to resolve a problem for a client, but on smaller things, I think it is healthy for the team to figure out problems and, sometimes, to fail. We are, in some ways, the culmination of corrections of our mistakes, and to rob those around you of that experience stunts their development and generates a team that always waits for the solution to come from above, neither of which are great for long-term success.

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