Homework features AHAM members’ insights on careers, success, life outside of work, and AHAM membership. This month, we spoke with Mark Zielinski, Director, Merchandising, Demand Planning and Product Line, Electrolux Major Appliances Canada. Mark also chairs the AHAM Canada Council.
How did you come to work in the appliance industry?
I had a number of part-time jobs while I was at university, one being with the Hudson Bay Company, where I was responsible for setting up the appliance and furniture floors while supporting the full-time sales associates with selling during busy periods. That was my first experience with appliances. After completing school, I was still unsure of my career path but came across an opening at Electrolux. Twenty-three years and several roles later, it is still the only company I have worked for during my professional career.
How important is it for leaders to foster a culture of mentorship in their organizations? What makes an effective mentor?
A mentorship program is critical in fostering long-term career development and a sense of belonging and satisfaction. Mentors help with skill development and knowledge sharing, while ensuring the leaders of the future are engaged, have a sounding board and are well-aware of the organization’s mission and purpose. An effective mentor should balance these hard skills, with the softer skills around communication, collaboration and leadership, while mentees should gain a better understand of work, career, life and balance. A successful mentorship program should see the mentor gain equal benefit from the experience by becoming more self-aware and confident.
What are your secrets to having a productive day?
I have always been an early riser and cherish the time in the day before the office is full and meetings get into full swing. I consider myself a student of the appliance industry and try to dedicate the first 30-60 minutes of my day studying internal reports, the appliance market, or general economic indicators. At that point, I will have finished three coffees and be ready to take on the day!
What personal and professional goals are you currently pursuing?
Personally, like most, the pandemic brought about many challenges and provided a new perspective. Family is always first, no exceptions. Be present, be aware and be grateful.
Professionally my team continues to grow, however, the two goals I have are consistent from year to year:
Provide value to the organization by building tools, expanding capabilities, and improving processes – always act with the end consumer and customer in mind.
Provide opportunity and a forum for my team to grow. Ensure they understand the “why” so they can solve for the “how.”
Predict an appliance or other innovation that will revolutionize the next generation.
Sustainability needs to be a pillar in which all industries develop innovations around. All products, services, or processes should work towards a goal of climate neutrality. At Electrolux, we strive to create better solutions – products and services that enable people to save energy, water and resources every day, while helping to foster a more circular economy. We need to ensure the planet is at the forefront of these innovations to ensure it is healthy for future generations to enjoy.
How has a diverse and inclusive workforce helped your company to meet its objectives?
I am blessed to work in the Toronto area, which has been built through years of immigration with a multitude of diverse cultures. This diversity has become the pulse of Canada and what makes it so special. I believe a workforce should be a reflection of the world we live in. I have a number of new Canadians on my direct team, and the different perspectives in business are invaluable. We may all work in the same office, but we are also all consumers with unique behaviors.
Outside of the appliance industry, what would be your dream job?
Any job at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I love nature and animals, and what better place to enjoy them then the happiest place on earth!
What does your company gain from its involvement with AHAM?
AHAM has been critical in keeping us up to date on any industry or regulatory changes that could impact the appliance industry. The strength of association ensures a large, unified voice that has been very successful representing the industry. Although competitors in business, the members' collaboration and spirit around industry advocacy is exemplary.
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