April 10, 2014

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Tried and Tested

Leadership Lessons from Four Top Utah Execs

By Tom Haraldsen | Photography by Matt Barr

April 10, 2014

In the months and years since his accident, Entwistle discovered that “we get a bit of learning opportunities every day. We have to be team oriented, collaborative and willing to work with people and not through them. We need to be constantly learning and realize we’re not always going to get it right.”

Like Coates, Entwistle surrounds himself with “really smart people. You have to listen, you have to be willing to adapt to changes. You have to take the time to prepare yourself for whatever you might face. The medical world is a dynamic and ever-changing environment. There’s almost always a team-oriented approach to learning.”

Finding Opportunities

If necessity is the mother of invention, then lovers of authentic Mexican foods can thank Jorge Fierro’s negative experience in a supermarket with the creation of his fine line of foods. Fierro was working as a dishwasher in 1997 when he purchased a can of refried beans in a Salt Lake supermarket and took it home.

“I was disappointed in the quality—I couldn’t believe how bad they were,” he says. “My mother had a small food business in Chihuahua, Mexico, and food was something I always looked forward to in our house. So I started selling our own recipe of foods at the Farmers Market in downtown Salt Lake City. I am still there every week as I have been since 1997.”

He began by retailing De Lo Olla pinto beans—fully cooked and ready to eat. Those beans can also be made into refried beans. Using a $10,000 business loan from the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund to purchase some equipment, Jorge rented a building downtown that allowed him to make his beans and distribute them in supermarkets such as Harmons, Whole Foods and at Winder Dairy. He also formed a working relationship with distribution companies.

“It took me some time to learn how to deal with all these different companies and how to start up a business,” he says. With help from his mother, Elba, who still lives in Mexico, he started his own company, watched it grow and, four years ago, opened Frida Bistro in Salt Lake. It is one of the valley’s most popular Mexican eateries, and Jorge is “there all the time. I want to make sure the quality of our food is always the best.”

Such dedication is the key to business success, he says.

“Having your own business means you work more than when you worked for someone else. I’m independent, an entrepreneur, and I want to do more on a daily basis.”

“My advice to anyone starting their business is to know their market well, to start their company with the least amount of money until they see how it works. You need to know your numbers—know your financials. You have to see your business from a more tactical and realistic side. You have to always have your eyes on things.”

Fierro is getting ready to launch a new line of healthy frozen burritos—Rico’s Chico will be the brand name. He’s also opening a manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas, hoping that the Rico brand will become a national brand in the near future.

Embracing Discomfort

Jill Taylor could have been in broadcasting—that was her plan while in college and shortly after she graduated. When her first child was born, she made the decision to stay at home for a couple of years, before going back to work to earn a little extra money.

“I figured I’d work for about a year to help us save, and then try to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she says with a laugh. This led to her career in the banking industry, something she looks back on as being “an accidental forte. I called a bank [Bank One] looking for a job, and they hired me. That was 18 years ago.”

As her time at the bank increased, so did ongoing opportunities to advance. Now, she serves as Key Bank’s president for the Utah market.

Her goal then, as now, was to help make her supervisors look good.

“I’m a firm believer that as you help your leaders succeed, you make yourself look successful as well,” she says. “I see this in my own employees—those who work to help lift the team are the ones I gravitate to when future opportunities come up. It’s almost like a sixth sense—when you see people achieve their goals while also helping others achieve them.”

Recruited by Key Bank 10 years ago, Taylor had to make a choice—to leave her current employer where she felt comfortable for a new position at a new bank, with new coworkers and a whole new set of challenges, or join Key Bank. In February 2004, she made the move.

“I do believe in taking on challenges,” she says. “If you’re not growing then you’re wilting. You need to take risks, push yourself, put yourself in positions that aren’t comfortable. That can include looking at new ways of doing things in your current position. If I had not been made uncomfortable, I don’t know that I would have the guts today to take some of the risks I do now.”

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