Home Posts tagged Employment (Page 2)
People on the Move
Brenda McGiverin

Brenda McGiverin

WWLP announced that Brenda McGiverin has been promoted to general sales manager of WWLP-22News, wwlp.com, and the CW Springfield. McGiverin has been with WWLP since 2007. She began her career at the media outlet as a digital account executive/new media coordinator. She was then promoted to digital sales director, where she led a sales team of seven account executives, and was responsible for generating and managing all digital revenue.  Most recently, she has served as local sales manager overseeing the entire local sales staff and coordinating all aspects of broadcast and digital sales. Outside of her responsibilities at WWLP, she is the board president of the Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts, a member of the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round board, and on the advisory committee for Providence Ministries. McGiverin is a graduate of Northeastern University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and management. While attending Northeastern, she worked as a marketing coordinator for 8MinuteDating – Boston, and as a client services coordinator for MTV2-Y2M: Youth Media & Marketing Networks, the parent of College Publisher, the largest interactive network of online college newspapers in the U.S.

•••••

Berdie Thompson

Berdie Thompson

Berdie Thompson recently joined the staff of Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts as the Development director. She previously served as the Charitable Gifts and Events coordinator for the Chicopee Savings Bank Foundation for 10 years. In addition, she has six years of fundraising experience and six years of office management in the nonprofit sector and a solid track record of meeting and exceeding fundraising goals. She brings with her a plethora of knowledge about fundraising from both sides of the table. Prior to her involvement in nonprofits, she was in the banking industry for 15 years.

•••••

Suzanne Rosenberg

Suzanne Rosenberg

Michael Gay

Michael Gay

PeoplesBank recently appointed Suzanne Rosenberg as assistant vice president and manager for its West Springfield banking center, and Michael Gay as manager for its Amherst banking center. In her new position, Rosenberg aims to cultivate a customer-focused, engaging, one-stop resolution environment focused on identifying and providing solutions for all customers’ financial needs. She has 15 years of financial-services and banking experience. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Stonehill College in Easton. She formerly served as a volunteer for the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and the Mashpee Boys & Girls Club. In his new position, Gay aims to provide a positive banking experience to both consumer and small-business customers. He has eight years of financial-services and banking experience. He attended Holyoke Community College and Franklin-Covey organizational training. He formerly served as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Therapeutic Equestrian Center of Holyoke.

•••••

Sr. Kathleen Keating

Sr. Kathleen Keating

The board of trustees of Elms College voted recently to grant the title of president emerita to Sr. Kathleen Keating in recognition of the lasting impact she has had on the college. Keating, a native of Springfield, was installed as the college’s seventh president in 1994. During her tenure, from 1994 to 2001, Elms College underwent extensive changes. In 1997, the college voted to admit male students to all programs of the college, which helped stabilize a declining enrollment. In addition, the college added four new undergraduate majors and one new master’s degree program. She more than doubled the school’s endowment from $2.3 million to $5.8 million and oversaw various campus-improvement projects, including the building of the Maguire Center. She also oversaw the establishment of the Irish and Polish Cultural Centers on the Elms campus. A 1952 graduate of Elms College, Keating received a master’s degree from Villanova University and a doctoral degree from Fordham University. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1953. She worked as a teacher at St. Joseph High School in North Adams and was assistant professor of History at Elms College from 1966 to 1975. She also served as chair of the college’s Division of Social Sciences. From 1975 to 1978, she was president of the National Assembly of Women Religious in Chicago, and she served as president of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield from 1979 to 1987. From 1989 to 1993, she ministered in Nicaragua as an associate member of the Maryknoll Sisters, working as a pastoral minister and a professor of English at the Jesuit University of Central America in the city of Managua. She received the Elms Distinguished Alumni Award in 1983 and a number other national and regional awards over the years.

•••••

Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that Tiffany Raines has been hired as assistant vice president and branch officer of the new Holyoke branch located at 170 Sargeant St. Raines brings more than 18 years of experience in banking, most recently serving as assistant vice president and banking center manager of PeoplesBank’s West Springfield banking center. In addition to 10 years as a branch manager and spending time managing the West Springfield, Amherst, and East Longmeadow offices, she also spent six years supervising the High Street and Hampden Street offices in Holyoke. Raines has a strong commitment to serving surrounding communities. She is a past board member of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Rotary Clubs of Amherst, Holyoke, and East Longmeadow. Raines is a graduate of Leadership Holyoke, which is an 11-week community leadership course designed to train and motivate people to volunteer in order to make a positive difference in their community. Along with Raines, Tenaya Read has been selected as assistant branch manager. Read joined the bank in 2004 and, over the last 14 years, has held the positions of teller, customer service representative, and, most recently, senior teller at the main office in Easthampton (36 Main St.). In addition, Nadean Eaddy has been selected as senior teller. Eaddy joined the bank this past May with 15 years of banking experience, 11 of which were in a supervisor role. She has been promoted from her current role as teller in the South Hadley branch.

•••••

Susan Fentin

Susan Fentin

Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced that Susan Fentin, senior counsel, has retired from the active representation of clients after 20 years with the firm. Fentin joined Skoler Abbott in 1999 after serving as clerk to Judge John Greaney, associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and practicing for several years with the Labor and Employment department of a large law firm in Hartford, Conn. Her expertise in the niche market of employment law enabled her to quickly build a leadership role at Skoler Abbott. In just five years, she was made partner. Fentin graduated magna cum laude from Western New England University School of Law, where she was editor in chief of the Western New England College Law Review. She was the editor of the Massachusetts Employment Law Letter and teaches master classes on behalf of the publisher, Business & Legal Resources (BLR). She will continue to present occasional webinars to national audiences on behalf of BLR and is a regular presenter and keynote speaker for BLR’s annual Advanced Employment Issues Symposium. In addition, Fentin has a long history of supporting charitable organizations in Western Mass. She has served on the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts board of trustees, including three years as president; the Riverside Industries Inc. board of directors, including stints as vice president and president; and the WFCR Public Radio board of directors, where she also served as president. She currently serves on the board of directors for Greenfield Cooperative Bank and the Children’s Advocacy Center in Greenfield and is vice chair of the board of tribunes of WGBY Public Television. Fentin has been named a Super Lawyer since 2008, was one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Massachusetts in 2015, has been recognized as one of the top labor and employment attorneys in Massachusetts by the prestigious Chambers and Partners rating organization, and was honored as a distinguished alumna of the Western New England University Law Review.

•••••

Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso, CFP has been named a member of the 2018 Chairman’s Council of New York Life. Members of the elite Chairman’s Council rank in the top 3% of New York Life’s sales force of more than 12,000 licensed agents in sales achievement. She has accomplished this level of achievement for seven consecutive years. Deliso is president and owner of Deliso Financial and Insurance Services, a firm focusing on comprehensive financial strategies that help position clients for a solid financial future since 2000. She has been working in the financial field for 30 years, her first seven in public accounting and the balance working in the financial-services industry. She is a graduate of Bentley College. Her extensive experience has led to a focus in certain fields, such as cash management, risk management, investment planning, and financial preparation for retirement, as well as times of transition such as divorce or widowhood. Deliso has been a New York Life agent since 1995 and is associated with New York Life’s CT Valley General Office in Windsor, Conn. She is currently chairman of the board of the Baystate Health Foundation and is a board member of the Community Music School of Springfield. She is past chairman of the board of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, past board member of AAA Pioneer Valley, and a past trustee of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the advisory council at Bay Path University.

•••••

Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) announced that Amy Britt has joined the organization as the Leaders OnBoard program coordinator. In this role, she will be responsible for managing LPV’s board-development program, Leaders OnBoard. The program aims to increase and strengthen the skills and capacities of boards of directors. This program is intended to recruit and train people who are new to board service as well as seasoned board members, with the goal of inspiring and strengthening the leadership provided to the network of nonprofit organizations in the Pioneer Valley. Britt comes to Leadership Pioneer Valley with a background in communications, marketing, and event management. She worked for Tapestry, a regional public-health agency, for over 10 years, most recently as director of Communications, where she oversaw communications and marketing for the organization, worked with the Development department on fundraising campaigns and events, and supported the agency’s state and federal advocacy efforts. Britt graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and was selected as an American fellow in a U.S. State Department program focused on women’s health leadership in Brazil in 2012. She is a 2014 Leadership Pioneer Valley graduate.

•••••

Marjorie Weeks

Marjorie Weeks

The United Way of Pioneer Valley recently welcomed Marjorie Weeks as director of Resource Development. She brings more than 25 years of experience in fundraising and development as well as school administration. Weeks has done a considerable amount of counseling and coaching for area nonprofits. Much of her experience has been in the independent school world, including time with Academy Hill School and Wilbraham & Monson Academy. Weeks will spend the majority of her time re-energizing long-standing allies and inspiring others to support the essential work of the United Way of Pioneer Valley.

•••••

Kristen Coia, operations manager at Arrha Credit Union, was recognized by the Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. with its Young Professionals Award for being an upcoming, proactive professional. The association also recognized Arrha with the Excellence in Advocacy Award for promoting the interests of credit unions among its legislative, regulatory, and consumer audiences. The engagement in advocacy included many outreach efforts, such as Michael Ostrowski, Arrha’s president and CEO, visiting Washington, D.C., to be part of the ongoing credit-union industry legislative discussions, seeking approvals to fully utilize today’s advances in technology, providing financial literacy, and being part of the World Affairs Committee of Credit Union National Assoc. and its world arm, the World Council of Credit Unions, to lend aid and assistance to Puerto Rico’s credit unions. Ostrowski also traveled to Cuba to engage its government on establishing credit unions and, most recently, to Poland to assist its credit unions in regulatory advocacy with the Polish government.

•••••

Bailey Eastman

Bailey Eastman

Webber and Grinnell Insurance announced that Bailey Eastman, commercial lines marketing manager, was named the MAIA 2018 Young Agent of the Year. This award is given to young agents who have demonstrated career growth and success within their agency as well as significant involvement in the community to which their agency belongs. In addition to Eastman’s work ethic, she is dedicated to her community through volunteering. She is heavily involved with Look Park, has helped organize and run her own nonprofit dealing with child abuse, and serves in various other organizations and community events.

•••••

Ron Davis, a sales professional, business specialist, and founder of WAMF Consulting, has transitioned from president and CEO of the company to chief sales officer. This new position will allow him to offer a comprehensive approach to banks, credit unions, and corporations to support their sales and business-development needs.

After 40 years of selling software and services to financial institutions and corporations in the Northeast, WAMF Consulting was born. WAMF is an acronym for ‘winners are my friends.’ Davis has been recognized nationally, achieved President’s Clubs, and been a top sales performer and district leader. He is trained in major sales methodologies, SPIN selling, power messaging, executive presentations, Dale Carnegie, and strategic selling. Early in his career as an account executive for the Savin Corp., he sold a national contract to United Technologies, the world’s largest corporation at that time. Davis is certified in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and has a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in business, management, and economics. He has written marketing surveys which were implemented in corporate business plans and rolled out company-wide. He coined the phrase ‘lobby dynamics’ to help bank branch personnel sell more products and deepen the customer experience.

•••••

The management of Big Y Foods Inc. announced three new appointments at area Big Y World Class Markets. Samarra DeJesus was named bakery sales manager in Southwick, Trista Sabin was named deli sales manager in Lee, and Thomas Christensen Jr. was named meat/seafood sales manager in Rocky Hill, Conn.

Features

Exciting STUFF

John Cook, president of Springfield Technical Community College

John Cook, president of Springfield Technical Community College, proudly displays the cribbage board given to him by students at Pathfinder Regional Technical High School in Palmer

John Cook, president of Springfield Technical Community College, says he doesn’t play the card game cribbage.

But that doesn’t mean the cribbage board given to him recently gathers dust sitting in a drawer or closet unused. In fact, it now occupies a prominent place on a desk already crowded with items that speak to his personal life and career in higher education.

That’s because the elaborate board was crafted by students at Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School in Palmer. It’s fashioned from metal — Cook isn’t sure exactly what the material is, although he suspects it’s aluminum — and it’s truly a one-off, complete with his name and title printed on it.

As noted, Cook’s never used the gift for its intended purpose, but he’s found an even higher calling for it.

“I take this around, and I tell people that, if they can create one of these at one of those labs like the one at Pathfinder, there’s a $50,000-a-year job waiting for you,” he said as he started to explain, making it clear that his cribbage board has become yet another strategic initiative in a multi-faceted effort to educate people about careers in manufacturing and inspire them to get on the path needed to acquire one.

Other steps include everything from taking young people on tours of area plants — and their parking lots (more on that later) — to working with the parents of those people to convince them that today’s manufacturing jobs are certainly not like those of a generation, or two, or three, ago.

“I take this around, and I tell people that, if they can create one of these at one of those labs like the one at Pathfinder, there’s a $50,000-a-year job waiting for you.”

And there’s good reason for all the time and hard work put toward this cause. It’s all spelled out in the latest Workforce Development and Technology Report prepared as part of the Precision Manufacturing Regional Alliance Project, or PMRAP for short.

Indeed, the numbers on pages 7 and 8 practically jump off the page. The chart titled ‘Workforce Indicators’ reveals that the 41 companies surveyed for this report project that, between new production hires and replacement of retiring employees, they’ll need 512 new workers this year. Extrapolate those figures out over the entire precision-manufacturing sector, and the need is 1,400 to 1,500, said Dave Cruise, president and CEO of the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, formerly the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County. Meanwhile, the number of people graduating annually from programs at the region’s vocational high schools and STCC is closer to 300, he said, noting quickly, and with great emphasis, that not all of those graduates, especially at the high-school level, will go right into the workforce.

Those numbers translate into a huge gap and a formidable challenge for this region and its precision-manufacturing industry, said Cruise, Cook, and others we spoke with, adding that additional capacity, and a lot of it, in the form of trained machinists, must somehow be created to keep these plants humming. But before finding the capacity (the expensive manufacturing programs) required to train would-be machinists, the region must create demand for those programs. Right now, there certainly isn’t enough, hence strategic initiatives involving everything from plant tours to Cook’s traveling cribbage board.

BusinessWest has now become an active player in this initiative with an aptly named special publication called Cool STUFF Made in Western Mass. It’s called that to not only confirm that there are a lot of intriguing products made in this region — from parts for the latest fighter jets to industry-leading hand dryers to specialty papers — but to grab the attention of area young people; Cool STUFF will be distributed at middle schools and high schools with tech programs, regional workforce development offices, state college career counseling offices, non-manufacturing employers, top manufacturing firms, BusinessWest subscribers, guidance counselors, community colleges, and employment offices.

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and MassDevelopment, Cool STUFF will include a number of profiles of area companies. These profiles will list the products made, the customers served, and the markets these companies supply. But the most important details are the job opportunities, the benefits paid, and the thoughts of those working for these companies.

As BusinessWest continues work on Cool STUFF, to be distributed later this fall (companies interested in purchasing profiles can still do so), it will use this edition of the magazine to set the table, if you will, by detailing the size and scope of the challenge facing this region when it comes to its manufacturing sector, and also highlighting many of the initiatives to address it.

Making Some Progress

Kristen Carlson is working on the front lines of the manufacturing sector’s workforce challenge — in a number of capacities, first as president of the local NTMA chapter, which has about 60 members, but also as owner and president of Peerless Precision in Westfield, a maker of parts for the aerospace and defense industries.

Kristin Carlson, owner of president of Peerless Precision

Kristin Carlson, owner of president of Peerless Precision, says area precision shops are very busy; the only thing holding them back is finding enough good help.

She told BusinessWest that business is booming for Peerless and most other precision manufacturers in this region, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future — a fact lost on many not familiar with the high quality of work carried out at area shops and this region’s reputation across the country and around the world as a precision hub.

“In the precision-machining side of the manufacturing sector, companies are not leaving this area,” she explained while debunking one myth about this industry. “There is a skilled workforce here that other states simply cannot compete with. So while it might cost a company less to do business in Tennessee or South Carolina, for example, they’re not going to see the same skill that we need in order to produce the parts our customers need.

“Right now, every industry is booming — aerospace, defense, oil and gas, even the commercial sectors,” she went on. “A lot of us are seeing really large growth percentages over the past 12 months; the only thing that’s holding us back is having the workforce to fill the jobs that we have.”

Peerless has seen 30% growth over the past year, and added six new people over the first six months, she continued, adding that, several years ago, the pace would have been closer to one new person a year.

“I could double in size if I had the workers,” she told BusinessWest, adding that there are many in this sector who could likely say the same thing.

The challenge of inspiring more individuals to become interested in manufacturing is not exactly a recent phenomenon in this region; it’s been ongoing for some time. However, the problem has become more acute as shops continue to add work and also as the Baby Boom generation moves into retirement.

The problem becomes one of supply and demand. There is considerable demand, but simply not enough supply. In most matters involving this equation, supply usually catches up with demand, but this situation is different in many respects.

Indeed, there are many impediments to creating supply, starting with perceptions (or misperceptions, as the case may be) about this sector and lingering fears that jobs that might be there today won’t be there tomorrow. These sentiments are fueled by memories of those with the Boomer generation, who saw large employers such as the Springfield Armory, American Bosch, Uniroyal, Diamond Match, Digital Equipment Corp., Westinghouse, and others disappear from the landscape.

Dave Cruise

Dave Cruise says surveys of area precision manufacturers reveal a huge gap between expected need for workers and the region’s ability to supply them.

Meanwhile, another challenge is creating capacity. Manufacturing programs are expensive, said Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Western Mass., adding that it’s also difficult to find faculty for such facilities because potential educators can make more money working in the field than they can in the classroom.

Regarding those perceptions, the obvious goal is to change the discussion, or the narrative, surrounding manufacturing, said Sullivan, by driving home the relative security of most jobs today and the fact that “these are not your grandfather’s manufacturing jobs.”

“Manufacturing today … is not, for the most part, standing at a machine doing some kind of manual labor,” he told BusinessWest. “The high-end precision manufacturers today are very technology-driven; there’s lot of computer science, lots of IT. It’s a clean environment, and the jobs in manufacturing, especially precision manufacturing, are very-good-paying jobs, and you can have a very good middle or upper-middle lifestyle, particularly in Western Massachusetts.”

Cook, whose school has several manufacturing programs and is the region’s clear leader in supplying workers for the industry, said that, despite the costs and challenges, additional capacity can and will be created — if (and this is a big if) demand for such programs grows and becomes steady.

That’s why Carlson and others say that manufacturers must sell this sector and its employment opportunities to not only the region’s young people, but also their parents.

“And their parents are often the harder sell,” said Carlson. “If I have a class of 20 kids come in and three or four or five of them show a real interest in manufacturing, I consider that a good day. But then, those kids go home, and selling it to their parents is the difficult part, because many of them still believe this is your grandfather’s machine shop — it’s a dark, dingy place, and only people who can’t go to college do that work, which is not the case.”

Meanwhile, young people are not the only targets. Indeed, other constituencies include those who are unemployed and underemployed, those looking for new careers, and the region’s large and still-growing African-American and Latino populations.

Across all those subgroups, women have become a focal point, in part because they — and, again, their parents — have not looked upon manufacturing as a viable career option when, in fact, it is just that.

“We know there are really well-paying jobs out there, but there’s a lot of work to be done to invite new individuals into this career path,” said Cook. “And I talk about two groups in particular — women and students of color — and there’s work to be done there. We have to engage families, and at much younger ages.”

Still Some Work to Do

It’s called the Twisters Café.

That’s the name given to a ’50s-style diner at Sanderson MacLeod in Palmer, a maker of twisted wire brushes for the cosmetic, healthcare, handgun, and other markets.

It was created a year or so ago, not long after the company also added an appropriately named ‘appreciation garden,’ an outdoor break area complete with picnic tables, chairs, umbrellas, and more.

The additions are part of ongoing efforts to make the workplace more, well, livable and attractive to employees and potential employees.

“They’re little things, but they make this a better environment,” said Mark Borsari, the company’s president. “People are here more than they’re at home, and we hope these steps make this a more enjoyable place to be.”

Those sentiments are yet another indication of how manufacturing has changed in recent years. And making people aware of not just perks like the Twisters Café, but also, and more importantly, the jobs and careers available in manufacturing today, is the broad, multi-faceted mission of a growing group of individuals, agencies, and companies.

This constituency includes the EDC, the various MassHire agencies, the vocational high schools and STCC, the NTMA, and individual manufacturers.

Shop owners will go into the schools themselves to talk about what they do and how, said Sullivan, and the shops will host tours of students, taking them onto the floor, and later into the parking lot.

“That’s a big part of these tours,” he said. “They show the students what they can do, what they can have, with the money they can earn from one of these jobs.”

And such initiatives are starting to generate results on some levels, said Sullivan, noting that many of the vocational schools now have waiting lists, especially for their manufacturing programs — something that didn’t exist a decade ago or even five years ago, when such schools were largely viewed as the best option for students not suited for a typical college-bound curriculum.

But those numbers on pages 7 and 8 of the PMRAP report show there is still a huge gap between demand and the current supply, and therefore there is still considerable work to be done, said Cruise, noting that the goal moving forward is to reach more people overall, more young people, and young people at an earlier age.

Cook agreed, and to get his point across, he brought out another item he’s collected — a fidget spinner made by a young student during a summer STEM program staged at the STCC campus.

“We have to do more of that,” he explained. “We have to do more work with younger students; we have to engage their families over the summer, and we have to let the young people get their hands on the equipment and build things like this. And we have to do things like this at scale — we have to start inviting far larger groups of students to our campus to see these programs.”

Cook does a lot of promotional work for the manufacturing sector — and STCC’s programs — himself, and his cribbage board is very often part of the presentation.

“I bring it to meetings every once in a while,” he explained. “It’s that teacher in me that still likes to use something physical for people to see, to touch, and to hold. They can realize that there’s still a very important place for this in our economy, and there’s nothing better than to put this into people’s hands and make them realize that that’s something significant about the ability to generate something like this.”

Cool STUFF will hopefully act like that cribbage board in that young people can see the products many area companies are making, and, in the snapshot profiles of these company’s employees, they can maybe see themselves in a few years.

“Manufacturing has a rich history in this region, but too many people think ‘history’ means ‘in the past,’” said BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti. “There’s still history being written in this sector, and the future looks exceedingly bright. Cool STUFF will hopefully drive this point home and encourage young people to include manufacturing in their list of career options.”

Parts of the Whole

Carlson was talking about the salaries and benefits offered by her company — most workers are paid $1,000 a week or more — when she paused for a moment.

“When you add up wages, overtime, and everything else, there are a few guys here making more money than I do,” she said, adding that this is not an exaggeration, but it is a fact lost on many young people, their parents, and other constituencies.

Bringing such facts, and numbers, to life is an ongoing priority for the region, and Cool STUFF will become part of the answer moving forward, as will John Cook’s cribbage board, plant parking-lot tours, and much more.

The stakes are high, but so is the number of opportunities — for potential job holders, the companies that will employ them, and the region as a whole.

People need to be made aware of these opportunities, said all those we spoke with, and, more importantly, inspired to reach for them.

(For more information on Cool STUFF Made in Western Mass., on how to have your company profiled, for advertising opportunities, and to receive copies, call (413) 781-8600.)

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Employment

(And Also Be at Least Reasonably Happy Doing It)

By John Graham

Most everyone has figured out that performance expectations keep going up. To put it bluntly, we face the challenge of doing more in less time. And it’s not about to change anytime soon.

In the past, those with lots of experience fared well. But not today. Experience can hold us back, like running against a strong wind. Experience is about what we’ve done in the past, and it has value in an ever-changing environment. On the other hand, expertise prepares us for what we must do next so we can face the future with confidence.

The question, then, is how to transition from experience to expertise, from looking backward for answers to looking forward with solutions. Here are 17 ways to do it.

1. Have the right mindset. Experience short-circuits the thinking process. We go from zero to 60 in a split second. We tear into tasks because we’ve been there before and know what to do. It takes an analytical mindset when entering uncharted territory.

2. Figure out what you need to know. More often than not, problems, misunderstandings, and confusion occur because we didn’t ask enough questions — or, more likely, any questions. We get off on the wrong foot by not knowing what we need to know.

3. Give yourself time. Some say they do their best work in a crisis or at the last minute. It’s also easy to deceive ourselves. Where does that leave us when we run out of time? The answer: in trouble and making excuses. And feeling overwhelmed.

4. Work on it and let it sit. The best solutions rarely, if ever, occur on the first attempt, whether it’s writing a report or working on a project. The human mind needs ‘noodling’ time to work in the background without pressure. Remember, everything can be improved.

5. Avoid confrontations. It isn’t easy, particularly since we seem to possess an urge to be right, a gyroscope of the mind. When coming into contact with an opposing view, the mind pushes back to regain its balance. It helps to view it as a signal to take a closer look before having a confrontation.

6. Never assume things will go smoothly. Why do we never get over being surprised when things go wrong? It’s as if someone is playing cruel jokes on us or deliberately throwing us curveballs to cause us grief. It’s best to be prepared by anticipating what might go wrong.

7. Second-guess yourself. To avoid getting blindsided, ask yourself ‘what if’ questions to foresee possible outcomes. Then, when asked about alternatives, you can say you considered various options and why you chose this one.

8. Learn something new. If you can do your job without thinking about it, you’re probably bored and underproductive. The human mind gets moving and stays active by coming up with new ideas, making improvements, and solving problems.

9. Go beyond what’s expected of you. It’s easy to put up a ‘I’ve reached my limit’ or a ‘I’m not paid to do that’ sign. Everyone feels that way at times. If we do, we can count on dismal days ahead.

10. Be present. It’s easy to be at work and not be present. The average employee spends just under eight hours a week on personal stuff, most of it on e-mail and social media. For those ages 18 to 34, add two hours a week, according to a staffing firm Office Team survey. That’s a day each week of not being present.

11. Ask questions. Have you started on a task and get into it only to discover you’re on the wrong track? Most of us have — too many times. It occurs when we’re too sure of ourselves or reluctant (or embarrassed) to ask questions. Asking the right questions is a sign that you’re thinking about what you’re doing.

12. Look for possibilities. Instead of just doing your work each day, take it to another level and interact with it so you get feedback from what you’re doing. Ask yourself: is it clear? Is it complete? Will the recipient understand it? Is it necessary? Will it make the right impression? What have I missed? Should I start over? Is it time for another set of eyes?

13.Take a chance. It’s invigorating to try something new. You may have been thinking about it for a long time, and it doesn’t really make any difference what it is. By taking your mind off all the annoying daily irritations, it can help invigorate your outlook and improve your productivity.

14. Have clear goals. Tedium sets in on any job. One day you realize that what was interesting and challenging is now tiring and unpleasant — perhaps even intolerable. If so, it’s ‘goal think’ time. Start by asking what you want to accomplish today, then add another goal for the coming month, and so on. When you know where you’re going, the tedium fades away.

15. Eliminate confusion. We may not be in a position to control the confusion around us, but we can avoid adding to it. We can make sure our messages are accurate and complete so there’s no misunderstanding, our address book and other files are current so we don’t need to bother others, we meet deadlines so we don’t leave others waiting, and so on.

16. Raise your standards. Others respond to us based on how they view us. How do they see you? Someone who get things done, who takes quality seriously, and who demands a lot from yourself? Make a conscious decision as to how you want to be perceived.

17. Take on a challenge. Nose around to see what you can find, drop a few hints, and even raise your hand. But be sure it’s something you want to sink your teeth into. If it is, you’ll have a great time doing it.

Follow this advice, and not only will you get your work done, but it will be more than you thought possible, and you’ll be happier at the same time. Better yet, your employer and your customers will be happier, too.
As it turns out, happiness doesn’t depend on what others do for us, but what we do for ourselves.

John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly e-bulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas”; [email protected]

People on the Move
Megan Kludt

Megan Kludt

Curran, Berger & Kludt announced that Megan Kludt has become its newest partner. She joined Curran & Berger in October 2010 after working as an immigration attorney for four years in Boston. She is a founding member of the Immigrant Protection Project of Western MA, and has recently gained media attention for her work to free asylum seekers from ICE detention. Kludt holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in international relations from Boston University, and a juris doctor with an international concentration from Boston University School of Law.

•••••

Decorti Rodgers-Tonge

Decorti Rodgers-Tonge

Decorti Rodgers-Tonge, chair of the Undergraduate Accounting department and assistant professor of Accounting at Bay Path University, has been selected to receive an African American Female Professor Award (AAFPAA). This award was presented to Rodgers-Tonge at the African American Female Professor Awards (AAFPA) Celebration on Sept. 27 at American International College in Springfield. Rodgers-Tonge is the second Bay Path professor to receive the AAFPAA. Janine Fondon, assistant professor and chair of Undergraduate Communications, was honored at the inaugural event in 2017. The goal of the AAFPA is to recognize African-American female faculty who are full-time, part-time, or adjunct, with the hope that this recognition will help institutions recruit and retain African-American female professors, as well as inspire African-American female educators to continue their work in the classroom and pursue post-secondary assignments.

•••••

Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley

Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO of Arrha Credit Union, recently welcomed Michael Kelley as the institution’s new mortgage loan originator. Kelley has more than seven years of experience in mortgage lending, most recently as mortgage loan originator at Polish National Credit Union. Kelley was recognized as Banker and Tradesman Top 5 Originator for Credit Unions in Western Massachusetts for two years in a row. He is a member of the Springfield Rotary Club and assistant coach for the SOY Boys Basketball team.

•••••

Berkshire Bank announced the promotion of Deanna Markham to first vice president, Retail Distribution manager. In her new position, she will maintain a strong leadership presence and community involvement as she remains local to the Berkshires, working from the company’s Pittsfield office. Markham has held many positions throughout the company since her start with Berkshire Bank in 2006 as a branch manager in Lee. In her 12 years at the bank, she has advanced in the company, including promotions to AVP branch manager; vice president, regional manager in Berkshire County; and, most recently, vice president, Sales and Delivery in 2017. In 2016, Markham graduated from the American Bankers Assoc. Stonier Graduate School of Banking and is a Wharton Leadership Certificate recipient. She attended Marist College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in fashion merchandising. Committed to giving back to her community, Markham is a Porchlight VNA and Homecare finance committee member and active in the Berkshire Bank employee volunteer program.

•••••

Jacquelyn (Jackie) Guzie

Jacquelyn (Jackie) Guzie

Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO of Arrha Credit Union, recently introduced Jacquelyn (Jackie) Guzie as Arrha’s new Springfield branch manager. Guzie has more than 18 years of banking experience and been recognized throughout her banking-industry career with several promotions at Rockville Bank. Since 2007, she has been a branch manager, most recently in the Suffield Branch at First National Bank of Suffield. A graduate of the New England College of Business and Finance in Boston, Guzie is also an emergency medical technician volunteering at Suffield Volunteer Ambulance Assoc.

•••••

The United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) announced it has hired Paul Mina as its new president and CEO as part of an overall management agreement. Mina brings 30 years of United Way experience to the Pioneer Valley. In addition, Steve Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank and chairman of the UWPV board, announced that the organization is entering into a management agreement with the United Way of Tri-County (UWTC). Mina will be reporting to the UWPV board of directors so that local control and oversight is maintained. The UWTC is responsible for overseeing the Mass 211 program, the statewide source for essential community services. Mina noted that more than 45% of the phone calls to the Mass 211 helpline originate from the UWPV service area, so he is familiar with the work being done in the community.

•••••

Melissa Tetreault

Melissa Tetreault

Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank, announced that Melissa Tetreault has re-joined Greenfield Cooperative Bank as a mortgage loan originator in its Northampton Cooperative division. She will work out of the Florence office for Northampton Cooperative, but is available to meet customers in any of the bank’s 10 offices throughout Hampshire and Franklin County. Tetreault has more than 30 years of experience in banking and mortgage lending, including 16 years with Greenfield Cooperative Bank. She holds a mortgage originator license from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is a graduate of UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in education. She is also a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies at Babson College. She is active with the United Way Women’s Way, an affiliate member of the Realtors’ Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, active with the Shelburne Falls Woman’s Club, and a former director of the YMCA and the United Way.

•••••

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

Bay Path University announced that Matthew Smith has been promoted to the position of director, Computer Science & Cybersecurity Programs. Smith has been with Bay Path University’s American Women’s College for nearly two years, first serving as an adjunct faculty member and later being named full-time academic director, Cybersecurity and Applied Technology. In June, he was promoted to academic director, Technology, Security & Justice. Smith brings more than 20 years of experience in technology and information-security leadership across the government, financial-services, and technology sectors to his teaching, most recently as a subject-matter expert in digital forensics and incident response at MassMutual Financial in Springfield. He has also held related positions with other Fortune 500 companies, such as General Dynamics and Dell-EMC Corp. He also holds a federal security clearance and is classified within U.S. federal courts for testimony as an expert witness. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Smith received his MBA from Norwich University, his master’s degree from San Diego State University, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.

•••••

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy has been named by Gov. Charlie Baker to the new Massachusetts Cybersecurity Strategy Council, which will advise state leaders on ways to spur economic growth and cyber-resilience in the Commonwealth. The appointment of the 19-member council, which includes representatives from state government, the private sector, and the Commonwealth’s leading research institutions, was announced on Sept. 27 during the 2018 Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum in Boston. Baker also announced the appointment of Stephanie Helm as the first director of the MassCyberCenter at the Mass Tech Collaborative. The Cybersecurity Strategy Council is chaired by retired Rear Admiral Michael Brown, the former director for Cybersecurity Coordination in the National Protection and Programs Directorate of the federal Department of Homeland Security. He now serves as president of Spinnaker Security, LLC.

 •••••

Lam Nguyen

Lam Nguyen

Mayhew Steel Products (Mayhew Tools) has selected Lam Nguyen to fill the role of plant manager at the company’s Basque Plastics Division in Westminster. With more than a decade of manufacturing leadership and operational expertise, Nguyen will oversee the plant’s daily operations while simultaneously improving overall operational efficiency and productivity. Nguyen, whom will report to Mayhew Tools President John Lawless, has a proven track record for implementing lean operational techniques that result in significant cost savings while increasing yield and quality. His managerial responsibilities will include, but not be limited to: production, workflow, automation, quality control assurance, purchasing, raw materials management, assembly, maintenance, and strategic planning. Before joining Mayhew Tools, Nguyen spent seven years as vice president of Manufacturing for Advanced Cable Ties Inc. Prior to that, he was plant manager and general foreman for same Gardner-based company, spending more than 18 years there overall. Nguyen holds an associate degree in business management from Quinsigamond Community College and boasts several certifications, including Six Sigma, CSP600 Lean Manufacturing, JIT, Industrial Electric, Project Management, and Scientific Injection Molding, to name a few.

•••••

Morgan Russell has joined the Main Street Hospitality team as the manager of Guest Experiences across four Main Street Hospitality Group properties. Originally from Boston and having grown up in the Berkshires, Russell brings 10 years of luxury hospitality concierge experience to this new position. Prior to joining Main Street Hospitality, he specialized in building guest-engagement programs for various high-end boutique hotels in Colorado, including the Arrabelle at Vail Square, the Sebastian Hotel, and the Christiana. Russell will work collaboratively with partners throughout the region to expand the guest-experience program at all of Main Street’s hotels and provide visitors an added layer of connectivity to the Berkshires experience. Russell will build out the guest-experience program at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Porches Inn at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Hotel on North in Pittsfield, and Briarcliff in Great Barrington. Russell graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs. In his early career, he worked at the Red Lion Inn, filling various positions from busboy and bellhop to the sales office.

•••••

Jeffrey Trapani

Jeffrey Trapani

Robinson Donovan, P.C. announced that Jeffrey Trapani, a partner with the firm, has received appointments from the Hampshire County Bar Assoc. and the Supreme Judicial Court. Trapani was unanimously approved to fill the upcoming vacancy on the Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Appointments for the Hampshire County Bar Assoc. The committee is an independent, non-partisan entity comprised of two dozen attorneys from across Massachusetts, including three members each of the Massachusetts and Boston bar associations. The Supreme Judicial Court appointed Trapani to the Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure. As part of the committee, he will assist in reviewing and recommending amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure and the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. Trapani concentrates his practice in civil litigation, including insurance defense, employment law, municipal liability, business litigation, and professional malpractice. He also represents many landlords in summary process action and housing-discrimination claims, and insurance companies in unfair-settlement claims and coverage issues. In addition to trial work, Trapani also represents clients in mediations and arbitrations. He is a member of the Defense Research Institute and the Massachusetts Defense Lawyer Assoc., and since 2008, he has been selected to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list.

Opinion

Editorial

What’s in a name — or a brand?

Sometimes, very little, especially when it comes to government agencies, state or federal offices, or administrative programs. Changes in names and titles undertaken to eliminate confusion and generate progress rarely succeed in those missions.

We don’t believe that will the case with the state’s decision to rebrand, if you will, its many workforce-oriented agencies under the umbrella name MassHire. For example, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County is now the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board; CareerPoint in Holyoke is now the MassHire Holyoke Career Center. Springfield-based FutureWorks is now the MassHire Springfield Career Center; you get the idea.

There are 29 career centers and 16 workforce boards across the state, and they are now all unified under the MassHire brand, replacing what were 45 different names.

It sounds like a simple bureaucratic initiative perhaps designed to save money. But it’s much more than that; it’s an effort to simplify matters for job seekers and employers alike and bring more focus and energy to what is easily this state’s biggest and most vexing ongoing issue when it comes to business and economic development — creating and sustaining a large and effective workforce.

Rebranding to MassHire won’t solve all the problems, but it will make the system that’s been created — and it is a very good system, to be sure — far more user-friendly and reduce a great deal of confusion about where employers, employees, and job seekers should turn for help.

And a good deal of help is needed when it comes to each of those constituencies.

For employers, these are very intriguing times, as we’ve noted on many occasions and in several different ways. The economy is chugging along and doing very well in most respects. Many companies across a number of sectors are in a growth mode, but they are challenged — as in severely challenged — to find talented help that will enable them to achieve that growth.

Rebranding to MassHire won’t solve all the problems, but it will make the system that’s been created — and it is a very good system, to be sure — far more user-friendly and reduce a great deal of confusion about where employers, employees, and job seekers should turn for help.

It’s a numbers game, and it’s reaching a critical stage as unemployment rates continues to fall, even in urban markets such as Springfield and Holyoke, where they have been consistently higher than the state and national averages. In fact, in many states, and in this one, according to most accounts, we’re at what’s known as full employment.

That’s a technical term to describe a situation where, by and large, everyone who needs a job, and is qualified to hold one, has one. Full employment is a good thing, in most respects, but it’s also a dangerous state, because employers are under more duress as they look to fill their ranks.

Meanwhile, this situation is made much worse by the huge numbers of Baby Boomers that are retiring each year.

The phrase you hear most often these days, whether it’s the manufacturing sector (that’s probably where it’s heard most) or healthcare, or even financial services, is that candidates ‘lack the skills’ companies require. The career centers and workforce boards were created to help people acquire those skills and make them workforce-ready.

But because each one had a different name, there was often confusion about just where employers and employees should turn to get the help they needed.

As we said, rebranding to MassHire is not, by itself, going to solve the many workforce challenges facing this state. But it is a big step forward in many respects.

What’s in a name? In this case, plenty.

MGM Springfield

In Good Company

Editor’s Note: From the start, one of the main focal points of the discussion involving MGM Springfield has been the employment opportunities it will bring to the region. Overall, MGM has had to fill roughly 3,000 positions, and it’s filled most of them with residents of the 413. With each job awarded, there is a story. Here are five of them:

Karisma Roach

Karisma Roach

Name: Karisma Roach
Age: 24
Residence: Springfield
Position: Cage Cashier

Why did you seek employment at MGM Springfield?:

I’ve been looking for a better job opportunity for so long and it is finally here. When I came from St. Thomas a couple years ago I never thought I would have the opportunity to build my career at such an amazing company.”

What does this opportunity mean for you?:

This feels just like a dream come true. This is my first full-time and steady job. I remember I cried when I got the position, because I really needed it. I have no words to describe how I feel. But I feel like I’m part of MGM Springfield. I love the management and the staff.”

 

Keishla Morales

Keishla Morales

Name: Keishla Morales
Age: 21
Residence: Springfield
Position: Table Games Dealer

Why did you seek employment at MGM Springfield?:

First of all, I think that MGM is one of the biggest companies worldwide, but most of all in United States. I am taking advantage of the opportunity of working for the first casino at Springfield. This is my reward for all my hard-work successfully completing the Blackjack and Carnival Games courses at MCCTI.”

What does this opportunity mean for you?:

This opportunity means EVERYTHING to me. I have never gambled before, but now I love dealing cards. I’m thankful for all the instructors that helped me out in the process. I’ve had so many struggles in my short life, but being part of this company makes me feel that I can finally take control and secure my future. It makes me feel that I will be able to raise and provide my daughter everything she needs. I’m very happy to finally be here. I look forward to being in the casino life and meet all my co-workers. This experience makes me feel excited, comfortable, but most of all thankful.”

Miguel Figueroa

Miguel Figueroa

Name: Miguel Figueroa
Age: 43
Residence: Longmeadow
Position: Executive Chef at TAP Sports Bar

Why did you seek employment at MGM Springfield?:

I saw the opportunity to grow and the stability the company provides. It’s exciting to grow a concept like TAP. I’m very lucky to lead an outlet like this. I’ve been to Vegas a few times, and I thought it would be great to have something like that in Springfield. It was a no-brainer when I was asked to join the team.”

What does this opportunity mean for you?:

This means a lot. It solidifies that I have made it far, and my hard work has paid off. Running this operation means the world to me, and gives me a sense of pride. Leading one of the outlets the casino has is the ultimate goal as a chef. It separates the good from the great. I feel like I have arrived.

Timothy Mock

Timothy Mock

Name: Timothy Mock
Age: 40
Residence: Connecticut (Moving to Springfield)
Position: Security Officer

Why did you seek employment at MGM Springfield?:

I wanted to be a part of the SHOW. I am a people person, and I love helping people. I wanted to meet different types of people from all different cultures, and MGM provides that. I wanted to be a part of it all.”

What does this opportunity mean for you?:

Working here allows me to be me. I’m fun-loving, outgoing, and I love life. This is who I am. I appreciate MGM for giving me this opportunity. It’s dear to my heart. Being chosen to be a part of this family is very special, and I get to embark on this journey of my life.

Jonathan De Arce

Jonathan De Arce

Name: Jonathan De Arce
Age: 32
Residence: Springfield
Position: Executive chef for the South End Market

Why did you seek employment at MGM Springfield?:

Because I’m from Springfield! I heard about this property since the beginning. I went to Boston for five years, I gained experience, and as soon as I knew that this was real I knew it was my opportunity to come back. I know what MGM Springfield means to the area, I’m aware of where this city has been, and excited about where it is going to be very soon.

What does this opportunity mean for you?:

It means everything! The possibilities are endless. Learning from all the leaders, being able to receive training in Vegas, visiting other properties, meeting all the Executives, this is definitely an eye opener! Sky is the limit!”

Employment

Talking Pot

By Erica E. Flores, Esq.

It took almost two years, but Massachusetts regulators have finally started to issue licenses to businesses looking to grow, manufacture, distribute, and sell recreational marijuana products in the Commonwealth.

The first license went to a cultivation facility in Milford back in June; since then, the Cannabis Control Commission has issued licenses to six other businesses, including provisional licenses for retail locations in Northampton and Easthampton.

Erica E. Flores, Esq.

Erica E. Flores, Esq.

Despite this progress, however, retailers cannot open their doors just yet — retail marijuana products must be tested for various contaminants before they can be sold, and the commission has yet to issue a license to a testing facility. But with the licensing process finally picking up steam, and public pressure on the commission to allow the voter-approved industry to take root, Western Massachusetts employers may be wondering how these changes will affect their workplace and what they can or should be doing to prepare.

Here’s what you need to know now:

Marijuana in the breakroom?

The recreational marijuana law specifically provides that it “shall not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by [the law] in the workplace,” and further, that it “shall not affect the authority of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the consumption of marijuana by employees.”

This means that employers who pre-screen job applicants for marijuana, have drug-free workplace policies that prohibit employees from working under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and who conduct other lawful drug tests of employees may continue their current practices, and need not accommodate an employee’s use of marijuana for recreational purposes, even when they are off duty.

That being said, the availability of marijuana products for sale at retail locations (and, eventually, at so-called “cannabis cafes”) will likely drive an increase in marijuana use by adults across the state. This means that employers may see a rise in positive drug-test results by applicants and those who are subject to random testing. Employers may also see an uptick in employees arriving to work impaired and/or using marijuana products on the job.

To combat these potential problems, employers who have drug-free workplace policies might consider issuing reminder notices to employees making clear that their policies apply to marijuana just like they do to alcohol, which is also legal.

Employers may also want to adopt a reasonable-suspicion drug-testing program, if they do not have one already, and train their managers and human resources professionals about how to recognize the signs and symptoms of marijuana impairment and how to properly document their observations. Such evidence, in combination with a positive test result, can help an employer prove that its reasons for disciplining or terminating an employee were legitimate should the employee challenge that decision in a legal forum, particularly given the fact that currently available drug-testing methods do not measure current impairment; they can only detect that the drug is in an employee’s system.

Drug-testing Considerations

Employers may also want to reconsider the scope of their pre-employment drug-testing programs. Such tests are legal in Massachusetts, but a 2016 decision out of the Mass. Superior Court suggests that employers who screen applicants for non-safety-sensitive positions run the risk of being sued for an invasion of privacy. Accordingly, employers can reduce their risk of a privacy claim (and possible liability) by eliminating marijuana from the testing panel for non-safety-sensitive positions or even doing away with drug screens for such positions altogether.

“… employers who have drug-free workplace policies might consider issuing reminder notices to employees making clear that their policies apply to marijuana just like they do to alcohol, which is also legal.”

Finally, employers should be prepared to address requests by prospective and current employees to tolerate the use of marijuana as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Last year, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Massachusetts employers have a legal obligation to accommodate a disabled employee’s off-site, off-duty use of medical marijuana, pursuant to a valid prescription, unless there is an “equally effective alternative” or the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would be unduly burdensome.

The decision relied, in part, on the language of the medical marijuana law, which guarantees to registered users the continued benefit of all “rights and privileges.” But many disabled employees may choose to bypass the medical marijuana registration process when they are able to obtain the drug at a recreational shop, potentially at a lower cost, while avoiding the cost, time and potential stigma associated with becoming a registered medicinal user. Must these employees also be accommodated?

Technically, the SJC’s decision applies only to employees who have registered as part of the medical marijuana program. Additionally, both the legislature and the Cannabis Control Commission may seek to keep it that way. To be sure, it may not be such a good idea for doctors and other healthcare providers to be able to recommend marijuana as a treatment for a medical condition without going through the process that would enable them to actually prescribe the drug.

Further, it may be bad public policy to encourage disabled persons to self-medicate by using marijuana products that are designed for recreational use as medication. On the other hand, if an employee can demonstrate a disabling condition and the absence of an equally effective alternative to marijuana, allowing employers to deny the accommodation just because the employee obtained the drug at a recreational shop seems somewhat arbitrary.

Bottom Line

These competing considerations are not likely to be resolved all at once, and certainly not right away. So employees who do not want to risk becoming the test case should give some thought to the pros and cons of accommodating such employees and devise a strategy that makes the most sense for their unique business.

When in doubt, employers should consider retaining employment counsel to help them navigate these difficult and ever-changing legal issues.

Erica E. Flores is an attorney at the firm Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C.; (413) 737-4753 or [email protected]

Employment

Language Course

 By Timothy M. Netkovick, Esq.

Big changes may be on the horizon regarding non-competition agreements. For the first time, there may be legal restrictions on the terms of those agreements, and, in a major development, employers may be required to pay former employees during the non-compete period.

This is the result of a bill passed by the Massachusetts state legislature that, if signed by Gov. Baker, will mandate the timing of non-competition agreements, the employees who can enter into those agreements, and certain language within the agreement.

Timothy M. Netkovick, Esq

Timothy M. Netkovick, Esq

Employers use non-competition agreements in order to protect their business interest in the event an employee leaves the company and begins to work for a competitor. In that scenario, the now former employee could be motivated to entice clients to their new place of business or to use confidential information of the former employer for the benefit of a competitor.

Historically, there has been little restriction on the contents of a non-competition agreement other than what terms would be enforced by a court in the event of a dispute. However, that may be about to change. If signed by Gov. Baker, the bill states that a non-competition agreement will need to include:

• A reasonable geographic reach in relation to the interest sought to be protected;

• A reasonable scope of the activities prevented;

• That the agreement be supported by a garden-leave clause (more on that later); and

• That the agreement comply with public policy.

The new bill is the result of the Legislature’s perception that non-competition agreements have become overused in the Commonwealth. As such, the bill requires that certain steps be taken at each stage of the employment process. At the outset, the bill mandates that non-competition agreements are unenforceable against:

• Nonexempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (hourly workers);

• Interns;

• Employees terminated without cause or due to layoff; and

• Employees under 18 years old.

In a typical scenario, non-competition agreements are entered into at the beginning of the employment relationship, and can be included as part of the employee’s ‘on boarding’ documents, along with a copy of the Employee Handbook and other standard documents.

The Legislature’s apparent concern is that an employee could sign a non-competition agreement without understanding what they are signing.

In order to protect employees, the bill requires that a non-competition agreement must be entered into by the earlier of a formal offer of employment or 10 business days before the start of employment. In addition, the agreement must be signed by both the employer and the employee and, further, must include a statement that the employee has the right to consult with counsel of their choosing prior to entering into the agreement. In effect, this makes a non-competition agreement the subject of a separate negotiation well prior to the first day of employment.

In the event the agreement is entered into after employment has started, the bill requires that there be a 10-day waiting period before the agreement becomes effective, and that it include the same statement that the employee has the right to consult with counsel of their choosing prior to entering into the agreement.

The bill further requires that “fair and reasonable consideration” be exchanged in order to support the agreement. The bill doesn’t state what “fair and reasonable consideration” is, however, it specifically states that “fair and reasonable consideration” must be more than just the employee’s continued employment.

Since there is no definition of “fair and reasonable consideration,” there can be a variety of potential interpretations as to what that phrase means. Could it be a raise for the employee to support the agreement? A bonus? Unfortunately, the legislation is silent. However, it is clear from the overall text of the legislation that the intent is for more than just nominal consideration, i.e. $1.00.

For the most part, once the agreement is signed, the bill adapts the standards typically used by Massachusetts courts in enforcing non-competition agreements in terms of duration and scope. For instance, Massachusetts courts have typically held that non-competition agreements are enforceable so long as they are reasonable in time and scope.

Courts have also typically interpreted non-competition agreements narrowly in terms of enforcing the agreement for a short period of time and limited to the areas where the employee actually performed services for the former employer. In addition, several professions are exempt from non-competition agreements due to public policy reasons, such as doctors and lawyers.

The major potential change is the requirement for employers to pay their former employees during the non-compete period. Under the bill, the agreement must be supported by a “garden leave clause” or other mutually agreed upon consideration. The bill defines a “garden leave clause” as 50% of the employee’s highest annualized salary within the two years preceding termination. In effect, employers will be required to pay the former employee not to work during the non-compete period.

In addition to the other provisions put in place, it seems that the Legislature’s goal is to provide an additional disincentive for an employer to enter into a noncompetition agreement unless the employer views it as absolutely necessary for a legitimate business interest. Given the other restrictions in terms of the category of employees specifically excluded from entering into non-competition agreements, it’s clear that the Legislature intends for non-competition agreements to apply to only executive or upper level management.

If enacted, these new requirements will require employers to review and modify their existing non-competition agreements. Employers will want to monitor the situation and consult their employment counsel regarding any revisions that may be necessary before they seek to enter into new agreements, or run the risk that those agreements will be unenforceable when the employer needs them the most.

Timothy M. Netkovick, an attorney at Royal, P.C., has 15 years of litigation experience. He has successfully tried several cases to verdict. In addition to his trial experience, he has specific experience in handling labor and employment matters before a variety of administrative agencies including the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, and Department of Industrial Accidents. He also assists employers with unionized workforces during collective bargaining, at arbitrations, and with respect to employee grievances and unfair labor practice charges; (413) 586-2288.

Law

Degrees of Improvement

By Kayla Ebner

Claudia Quintero was inspired by a lawyer who helped her — and now gets to do the same for others.

Claudia Quintero was inspired by a lawyer who helped her — and now gets to do the same for others.

In the years immediately following the Great Recession, many law-school graduates were challenged to find employment, let alone their dream job. But the picture is gradually improving, as evidenced by the experiences of recent graduates of Western New England University School of Law.

Claudia Quintero calls it her dream job.

That’s how she characterized the position she landed as a migrant/farmworkers staff attorney at the Central West Justice Center in downtown Springfield.

It’s a dream job, because she’s doing essentially what she always wanted to do and what she went to Western New England University School of Law to do — help people, but especially in the same way that an attorney helped her when she was 16 years old.

She met an attorney through a legal-services program in Los Angeles, where she grew up, who helped her apply for and obtain her permanent residence in just five short months. Quintero was always impressed and grateful for her own attorney’s diligence, and thought, “I want to be just like her.”

Like she said, hers is a dream job.

And those have been quite hard for law-school graduates to attain in recent years. In fact, for some time after the Great Recession, taking any job became the goal and, for most, a hard reality.

But the situation is improving, said Laura Fisher, director of Law Career Services at WNEU Law. She used the phrase “pretty steady” to describe the current climate, and while that’s a long way from ‘robust,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘solid,’ or other, more positive terms, it represents an improved picture and a better forecast for recent graduates.

“When the economy really took a hit in 2008 and 2009, every sector of the economy was disrupted, including law schools and law graduates,” said Fisher, adding, however, that “we’re seeing a rebound now.”

She offered some numbers to back up those words.

At WNEU Law, the class of 2017 graduated 101 students. According to data from the American Bar Assoc. (ABA), 43 of those graduates were employed at long-term, full-time, bar-passage-required jobs 10 months after graduation. Nineteen graduates were employed at what are known as ‘JD advantage jobs,’ meaning passage of the bar exam is not required, but that having a juris doctor degree provides a significant advantage.

Of the 101 graduates, eight were unemployed and seeking. Others were employed at both professional and non-professional positions or seeking a graduate degree full-time.

“The 10-month report for the class of 2017 indicates that the percentage of students with full-time, bar-passage-required, JD advantage, and other professional positions is 71.2%,” said Fisher. “This figure is approximately equivalent to, but slightly elevated, over the previous year, which was 68.9%.”

Laura Fisher

Laura Fisher

The ABA gathered that, nationally, 75.3% of the class of 2017 had long-term, full-time jobs requiring or preferring JDs. This is an increase from the previous year’s sum of 72.6%. However, the ABA credits the higher percentage of employment to “an approximately 6% decrease in the size of graduating classes at law schools nationally” (more on that later).

“When the economy really took a hit in 2008 and 2009, every sector of the economy was disrupted, including law schools and law graduates. We’re seeing a rebound now.”

Slicing through all those numbers, Fisher sees an improving job market and more opportunities for the school’s graduates — in the field of law, but also other sectors where a law degree is quite valuable, and these sentiments are reflected in the experiences of some of WNEU’s recent graduates, like Quintero.

For this issue and its focus on law, BusinessWest talked with Fisher and several recent graduates to get some barometric readings on the job market and where a law degree can take someone these days. For many, their landing spot was, in fact, a dream job.

Cases in Point

In 2013, the graduating class at WNEU included 133 students, said Fisher, summoning more numbers to get her points across. At that time, 49 students were employed at long-term, full-time, bar-passage-required jobs.

Although the class size at WNEU has decreased since then, Fisher said this is entirely by design. She noted that WNEU, along with other schools, are keeping the class sizes at “a reasonable size that’s reflective of what the market entails.”

Daniel carey

Daniel carey

Despite smaller class sizes, Fisher believes these numbers do not reflect a lack of opportunity in the job market.

“Although the market out there still feels pretty flat and we’re being careful about the number of law students we’re producing, I still feel like there’s plenty of opportunity out there,” she said. “Our alumni go on to do wonderful things.”

“Law school to me seemed like a natural way to really combine a lot of my interests and abilities. I’ve always kind of viewed the law as a way to help people.”

And she used that phrase to describe work both inside and outside the courtroom.

Daniel Carey, assistant district attorney (ADA) at the Northwestern District Attorney’s office and WNEU Law class of 2017 graduate, fits into both categories.

“Law school to me seemed like a natural way to really combine a lot of my interests and abilities,” said Carey. “I’ve always kind of viewed the law as a way to help people.”

Beginning law school in 2013, he was looking for a way to get his foot in the door, so he applied for a job at the DA’s office. He landed one as district court administrator, working behind-the-scenes to help the ADAs. He’s been there ever since, but has continued to move his way up. Since starting his role as ADA, Carey has served as director of the Drug Diversion and Treatment program for two years, a new initiative he helped launch for people struggling with addiction. It assists with treatment, rather than putting people through traditional criminal-justice prosecution.

In addition to his role at the DA’s office, he also served on the Easthampton School Committee and was elected to the Easthampton City Council. And he’s currently running for state representative — a significant change in career-path course from his original plan of being a high-school English teacher.

He is not the only one who was initially unaware of where a law career could take them. Nicole Mule, another member of WNEU’s class of 2017, did not know she was interested in law until she took classes during her time as an undergrad.

Nicole Mule

Nicole Mule

With a major in criminal justice and a minor in communication at the University of New Haven, she was required to take several law courses that were taught by lawyers. She mentioned that the classes were taught very much like they are in law school.

“It made me realize why advocating for businesses was so important. As an attorney, I can have a significant effect on my clients’ businesses for their benefit.”

“After that, I was hooked,” she told BusinessWest.

When in law school, she noted that she did not put all her focus into one practice area, and eventually gravitated toward employment law. In 2016, she accepted a summer position with the firm Robinson+Cole, which has offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and several other states, and was offered a job.

She’s currently an associate in the firm’s labor and employment group, representing both public-and private-sector employers in a variety of labor and employment matters.

Both of her jobs during law school helped her realize her love for this profession.

“It made me realize why advocating for businesses was so important,” said Mule. “As an attorney, I can have a significant effect on my clients’ businesses for their benefit.”

Firm Resolve

Both Carey and Mule graduated with law degrees but have gone on to completely different professions. This wide variety of career options is another reason why the job market for law school graduates is doing better than it was 10 years ago.

For Caroline Montiel, another 2017 graduate from WNEU, combining two of her biggest passions was important, and she was able to find the perfect fit.

She completed her undergraduate studies in chemical engineering, and after receiving some inspiration from her host dad while studying abroad in Spain, she decided to get her law degree. However, Montiel had a different experience than some of her peers while applying for jobs during law school.

“I was applying every week, at least one job a day,” said Montiel, adding that she applied to five jobs a weekend. For every 50 applications she filled out, she hoped to get one interview.

After she passed the bar exam, she began her career with a judicial clerkship in Connecticut Superior Court. In mid-June of this year, she began her new job as patent examiner at the Patent Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., working in the field she fell in love with during law school.

Much like Carey, Montiel, and Mule, Quintero completed several internships during her time at law school, including one with the people who helped her obtain permanent residency. She began applying for jobs during her third year of law school, and ended up sending in applications to about 10 jobs. Quintero’s strategy was simple: apply to places where she knew she would be happy.

“I was very picky about the kinds of jobs that I applied to just because I have a very specific thing that I want,” said Quintero. “I don’t like to divert energy or waste time doing things that I know I’m not going be happy doing.”

She got about three offers and ended up at Central West Justice Center. She said she was nervous that she wouldn’t get a job she wanted or that made her happy, but having a strong network was an important factor. Though it was a fairly seamless process for her, she noted that it took some of her friends much longer to find jobs.

“I was very cognizant that I was lucky,” she said.

There are certainly benefits to knowing what you want, and Montiel noted that having an idea of the type of career one wants to go into before starting law school can be very helpful.

Overall, Fisher said she sees that JD-advantage jobs are rising in popularity, both nationally and at WNEU. She noted that a lot more people are using their degrees for JD-advantage jobs in positions like higher education, data privacy, and security.

The JD-advantage sector is a route that students are becoming more interested in, she went on, not because there are fewer jobs elsewhere, but because they are interested in trying alternative paths.

Fisher mentioned that some students choose to opt out of the traditional path at a law firm because it can be stressful, and they want a good work/life balance.

Market Forces

Fisher wouldn’t say the market is booming for law-school grads — again, ‘steady’ was the word she chose, and she chose it carefully — but she does believe there are many opportunities out there in the legal job market because of how valuable it is to have a law degree in countless professions.

“A law degree is valuable far above and beyond how it can help you practice law,” said Fisher. “There’s a lot more you can do with it. Going through the process of learning how to think about laws and regulation and risk, I think all of that just lends itself to creating an employee who’s very aware, very mindful, and very responsible.”

For the graduates, that means a better chance of landing a dream job.

Workforce Development

By the Numbers

By Nikki Graf, Richard Fry, and Cary Funk

Workforce

Employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations has grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth. There’s no single standard for which jobs count as STEM, and this may contribute to a number of misperceptions about who works in STEM and the difference that having a STEM-related degree can make in workers’ pocketbooks.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data takes a broad-based look at the STEM workforce from 1990 to 2016 based on an analysis of adults ages 25 and older working in any of 74 occupations. These include computer, math, engineering, and architecture occupations, physical scientists, life scientists, and health-related occupations such as healthcare practitioners and technicians.

Here are seven facts about the STEM workforce and STEM training.

1. STEM workers enjoy a pay advantage compared with non-STEM workers with similar levels of education. Among those with some college education, the typical full-time, year-round STEM worker earns $54,745 while a similarly educated non-STEM worker earns $40,505, or 26% less.

And among those with the highest levels of education, STEM workers outearn their non-STEM counterparts by a similar margin. Non-STEM workers with a master’s degree typically earn 26% less than STEM workers with similar education. The median earnings of non-STEM workers with a professional or doctoral degree trail their STEM counterparts by 24%.

2. While STEM workers tend to be highly educated, roughly a third have not completed a bachelor’s or higher-level degree. A substantial share (35%) of the STEM workforce does not have a bachelor’s degree. Overall, about three in 10 STEM workers report having completed an associate degree (15%) or have some college education but no degree (14%). These workers are more prevalent among healthcare practitioners and technicians, computer workers, and engineers.

Some 36% of STEM workers have a bachelor’s degree but no graduate degree, while 29% have earned a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree. Life scientists are the most highly educated among STEM workers, with 54% having an advanced degree.

3. About half of workers with college training in a STEM field are working in a non-STEM job. Among workers ages 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree, 33% have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field of study. But only 52% of these STEM-trained workers are employed in a STEM occupation.

Among non-STEM occupations, management, business, and finance jobs attract a substantial share of college graduates with STEM training (17%), particularly those who majored in engineering. Roughly a quarter (24%) of engineering majors are in a managerial, business, or finance job.

Overall, among adults with a STEM college major, women are more likely than men to work in a STEM occupation (56% versus 49%). This difference is driven mainly by college graduates with a health-professions major (such as nursing or pharmacy), most of whom are women.

However, 38% of women and 53% of men with a college major in computers or computer science are employed in a computer occupation. And women with a college degree in engineering are less likely than men who majored in these fields to be working in an engineering job (24% versus 30%). These differences in retention within a field of study for women in computer and engineering occupations are in keeping with other studies showing a ‘leaky pipeline’ for women in STEM.

4. STEM training in college is associated with higher earnings, whether working in a STEM occupation or not. Among college-educated workers employed full-time year-round, the median earnings for those who have a STEM college major are $81,011, compared with $60,828 for other college majors.

The earnings advantage for those with a college major in a STEM field extends to workers outside of STEM occupations. Among all non-STEM workers, those who have a STEM college degree earn, on average, about $71,000; workers with a non-STEM degree working outside of STEM earn roughly $11,000 less annually.

5. The share of women varies widely across STEM job types. Women are underrepresented in some STEM job clusters, but in others they match or exceed their share in the U.S. workforce overall. In fact, women comprise three-quarters of healthcare practitioners and technicians, the largest occupational cluster classified as STEM in this analysis, with 9.0 million workers — 6.7 million of whom are women.

And women’s gains since 1990 in the life sciences (up from 34% to 47%) have brought them roughly on par with their share in the total workforce (47%), a milestone reached in math occupations (46%) as well. Women remain underrepresented in engineering (14%), computer (25%), and physical-science (39%) occupations.

6. Women have made significant gains in life and physical sciences, but in other areas their shares have been stable, and in computer jobs it has declined. While there has been significant progress for women’s representation in the life and physical sciences since 1990, the share of women has been roughly stable in several other STEM job clusters.

In engineering, the job cluster in which women have the lowest levels of representation on average, women’s shares have inched up only slightly, from 12% in 1990 to 14% today. And the share of women has actually decreased in one of the highest-paying and fastest-growing STEM clusters — computer occupations. In 1990, 32% of workers in computer occupations were women; today, women’s share has dropped to 25%.

7. Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in the STEM workforce relative to their shares in the U.S. workforce as a whole. This underrepresentation is evident across all STEM job clusters, with one exception: 11% of healthcare practitioners and technicians are black, similar to the share of blacks in the total workforce.

Within job clusters, however, the share of blacks and Hispanics varies widely. For example, 37% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are either black or Hispanic. By comparison, other health-related jobs have smaller shares of workers who are black or Hispanic, including physicians and surgeons (11%), pharmacists (10%), dentists (9%), and physical therapists (9%). Just 5% of optometrists, veterinarians, and chiropractors are black or Hispanic.

Asians are overrepresented across all STEM occupational groups, particularly among computer workers and life scientists. They account for 19% of workers in both of these fields, which is much higher than their share in the workforce overall (6%).

The share of Asians varies substantially within occupational groups, however. For example, in engineering jobs, the share of Asians ranges from 30% among computer-hardware engineers to 2% among surveying and mapping technicians. Among healthcare practitioners and technicians, 21% of physicians and surgeons are Asian. But Asians comprise a far smaller share in other occupations, such as veterinarians (3%) and emergency medical technicians and paramedics (2%).

Nikki Graf is a research associate focusing on social and demographic trends at Pew Research Center. Richard Fry is a senior researcher focusing on economics and education at Pew Research Center. Cary Funk is director of science and society research at Pew Research Center.