Nick Candito ’10: Early on in your career, opportunity looks a lot like work
Nick Candito ’10, co-founder/CEO of Progressly (a cloud-based Operational Performance Management solution), recently appeared on the Forbes "30 under 30" list —and it wasn’t by chance. “One of my favorite pieces of advice quoted often while I was growing up is, ‘Opportunity looks a lot like work,’” he says.
Candito’s experience as a member of Bryant’s football team showed him the importance of individuals working together toward a common goal, and it’s something he believes is an essential ingredient for professional success. “You typically spend more time with the people you work with than friends and family, especially in an entrepreneurial venture,” Candito says. “Team unity is crucial.”
“I’ve always believed that you can hire character and train skill."
Progressly employees are “very diverse in terms of age, race, gender, and perspective,” he says. Moreover, Candito makes it a point to ensure that all employees have input. “As long as everyone understands our broader vision and their role in executing against our strategy, I believe in letting individuals have ownership over their work. Simply having a talented team is not enough—you have to empower people to leverage their unique perspectives to make the team stronger.”
Hire character, train skill
Although many companies often try to hire people with direct experience who can “hit the ground running,” Candito has a slightly different approach. “I’ve always believed that you can hire character and train skill,” he says. “If you’re lucky, your senior staff will have a strong intersection of the two.”
Candito, who majored in Finance and minored in Communication and Sociology, also looks for confident leaders who aren’t intimidated by others’ success. “A leader must have the courage to make decisions that build up others within the group,” he says. “That may mean saying ‘no’ to a passion project because it will distract from the company mission, or accepting someone else’s idea for a new tactic after seeing evidence that it might be the better course of action.”
One of the most meaningful lessons he’s learned as an entrepreneur is that sometimes it’s best to take one step at a time. “Thinking incrementally helps all of us avoid feeling overwhelmed. Since our product is focused on optimizing performance, it is also incredibly useful in putting us in the right position to make proactive decisions based on the latest information. We’re streamlining process for Fortune 500 brands and it’s helpful to remember that value in keeping people aligned even in smaller organizations like ours.”
Early on, Candito struggled with the idea that he wouldn’t have all the answers all the time. He now says, “You won’t know everything, so don’t pretend to. People will see right through it and lose respect for you. You can learn something from almost everyone you meet or work with—it just takes a little humility.”