University Alumni

University Alumni Gets Down to Business

Patty Azzarello, University alumni and successful business woman revisited her place of higher education last Tuesday to share her secrets about making it in the real world. University students and faculty gathered around to listen to her various career accomplishments and tips for technology in the real world.

Azzarello has been in the work force for 25 years and has held positions such as Vice President, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of various software companies and currently runs her own independent business. She talks about some of her personal highlights in her career thus far.

“There were two positions I had, one was in the beginning of my career and one was much later in my career that were very significant for different reasons,” Azzarello said. One of these positions was being a sales engineer where she would frequently be left alone to deal with customers, business deals, create marketing relationships, recruit and train resellers and developing marketing programs. She held this position at the age of 22.

“Why that job was so important to me was because it was just me and I had to figure out how to do everything, and I really learned what makes business happen,” Azzarello said. “I had to make everything happen by myself and I probably took the skills I learned there and used them in every job I ever had.”

The other job Azzarello favored most was being General Manager for Hewlett Packard (HP). Azzarello said it was a growing business and she enjoyed working with her team. It was a challenge she did well in overcoming and was a boost to her professional confidence. Students do not have to be business majors to break into the world of marketing and technology. Azzarello began as an electrical engineering major and interned in robotics at Bell Labs working in robotics. She quickly realized that electrical engineering was not what she wanted to do. “I then decided, how can I use my technology background, but experience some other parts of the business,” said Azzarello. “That’s when I got the sales engineer job.”

Though Azzarello decided to move past electrical engineering, she has taken something positive from it that she wishes to share with students soon to enter the work force. “The thing that engineering taught me is how to solve problems and to not be afraid of problems,” said Azzarello. “No matter how hard a problem is, if you take a deep breath and look at it, there’s always some place to start. I just think a degree in engineering, in technology, in science, it sets you up to do so many different things because you learn how to think,” she said.

Other tips for aspiring business people can be found in Azzarello’s bestselling book, “Rise.” “My book ‘Rise’ I wrote to help people in their careers understand that you have a lot more control than you realize,” said Azzarello. “You can’t just let your boss and your job description define what you’re going to do in your career… There’s a lot of frustrations when you go out into the work place, and I had mentors that really helped me navigate all of that. And so, I wrote ‘Rise’ to give away all the secrets, to just share everything I learned about what it takes to be successful and still like your life,” she continued. By Azzarello’s definition, success only happens when one is successful in their career and happy with their life outside of their job.

Azzarello strongly advocates for people doing what they are good at and doing what they enjoy. For some students, technology and computer science is what precisely that.

Valeria Guzman, senior computer science major, is fascinated with the growth of technology. “Computers really are the future,” Guzman said. “We hear it every single day, and I do love it. In terms of the workforce, companies are always looking for an easier way to do things, organize their numbers, save time, energy, paper, any means of saving to prioritize on other matters. I plan on being a part of the change and applying what Monmouth’s computer science department is teaching me to make a difference,” she added.

Mark Untisz, senior math and education major, agrees, speaking of his information technology minor. “I loved the information technology minor,” said Untisz. “I have learned so much about database design and web design. Since I am entering active duty Air Force in May, I will not be working directly for a company based on what I learned in the information technology minor. I have continued to work on my knowledge of information technology by working independently with clients for Monmouth University.”

Also working independently for her own company, Azzarello comments on entrepreneurship. “To be an entrepreneur you just have to sell something,” said Azzarello. “There are two elements to being an entrepreneur. One is the brilliance of the content, of the product, of the idea, of what it is you’re creating. The other important part of being an entrepreneur is selling.” Azzarello adds that experience in other companies is not essential to becoming an entrepreneur but is very beneficial. Some people, she said, are simply born to create and sell independently.

“I really enjoyed working with actual clients,” Untisz said. “You can only get so much from book and fictitious applications. Once the information becomes actual, it enhances the learning that much further.” If he did not plan to pursue a career in the United States Air Force, Untisz would continue in a career similar to this.

For students interested in a career in technology, the University is not a bad place to start. Azzarello credits the University not for the tools and programs it offers, but for its small size and attentive faculty. “The fact that you can get office hours with professors, I didn’t appreciate that when I was here,” Azzarello admits. “I just think that it’s a really special and wonderful thing that you can go talk to your professors. There’s a whole new opportunity for learning if you’re willing to go to your professors and ask additional questions, and that’s something I wish I had done more of,” she said.

Azzarello offered advice to students on campus, and professor availability was among some of the most important subject matter. “I always felt like my job was to go figure out how to do the homework and if I didn’t understand it, I was kind of out of luck,” Azzarello said. “Then I realized I could go ask!” Azzarello said that such a nurturing environment set her up for success.

Azzarello recently started a scholarship for a select student each year in the University’s School of Science. She had attended the University on a scholarship during her education and wishes to give back what was given to her. “College no longer became impossible; it became possible because of a scholarship,” Azzarello said.

Other advice Azzarello offered students includes developing good communication skills, focusing on desired outcomes and taking responsibility for developing yourself. “Once you’re finished with school the curriculum stops and you could stay at that same level of competence for the rest of your life,” Azzarello said. “Always be giving yourself new things to learn and challenge yourself, I think that is so, so important.”

A final suggestion from Azzarello to students is to put yourself out there and “get judged.” According to the alum, being judged can only help us learn and move on to great success in who we want to be.