On International Women’s Day, we take time each year to recognize hard-working women all over the globe. It’s a focal point in the movement for women’s rights and at LOOP-LOC, we’re lucky enough to have LeeAnn Donaton-Pesta as our President and CEO. We asked LeeAnn about her experience as a woman in leadership in the pool industry. Read on to find out her answers.
1. What’s been your greatest achievement as a woman in a leadership position at LOOP-LOC?
One of my greatest achievements and what I am most proud of is when my father Bill Donaton, LOOP-LOC’s founder, named me President of the company... he did not believe in nepotism in any shape or form. My first job at LOOP-LOC was as a customer service representative which I loved doing and gave me the learning experience I needed from a product perspective and more importantly from our customer's perspectives. I was eventually promoted to Customer Service Manager and a number of years later to Vice President. I will never forget the day I finally walked into his office and asked to speak with him. I told him of my passion for LOOP-LOC and that I decided I wanted his job as “President”, his response was it’s about time, and a few weeks later he announced my promotion to President.
2. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
The most valuable lesson I have learned over the years is to listen. Listen to your staff, listen to your customers, your vendors, and especially listen to those random calls from an unknown (at the time) person that says “I have an idea” that may fit your company. One never knows where the next big idea, invention, or product improvement may come from so...just listen.
3. What do you do to stay motivated?
Staying motivated at times can be challenging and I’m sure everyone no matter what your paid job is, or if your a stay at home parent, struggles with this once in a while. For me, it is important to always be working on a new “thing”. Trying to figure out a product improvement or a new innovative design keeps me busy and to see something you have worked on for two or three years come to life, like our PearlEssence liner series, gives me the boost to start looking for the next challenge.
4. How has the industry changed for women from the time you began working to now?
My first trade show for the Swimming Pool Industry was an eye-opener. There were very few women in management, or for that matter in the industry at all. The women you did see at the shows were the models welcoming you into a booth, and of course, the swimsuit models showing off a manufacturer’s wares. Luckily, LOOP-LOC never subscribed to this type of selling. I was also fortunate at that time to have our Sales Manager Amelia Chiaramonte as a role model. She had worked basically her entire career in the industry and was profoundly respected and knowledgeable.
As of ten years ago all of my meetings be it with customers or vendors I was, in almost every case, the only woman in the meeting. Today however there are many intelligent women taking on larger management roles in the industry and quite a few of my vendors now have women in prominent positions. At LOOP-LOC, the majority of my managers are experienced and dedicated women that have all been with the company for 15+ years.
5. Do you have any advice for women pursuing careers in the pool industry?
My advice would be to do it, learn all you can, become familiar with your products and listen to your customers. Never be afraid to professionally assert yourself and most importantly when someone tells you your idea cannot be done, ask a simple question...Why?