When Niki Kaltsounis-Kampiziones reported for work on her first day at Biesse America in 1995, she had a newly printed UNC-Charlotte diploma announcing to the world that she had studied diligently and earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in International business, so she knew all the ins and outs of international trade, marketing and finance that she would need to excel at her new job with the Biesse Finance Department.
Another added value Niki brought to the table was actual international experience. During her senior year, she traveled to Rome, Italy for her final course to complete her degree. She was able to immerse herself in the culture and gain real-world experience in the Italian business environment where ultimately, her UNCC Professor Dr. Carpano, recruited her to come to work at Biesse.
“When I received the offer during my studies in Italy, I accepted with faith and with an open mind. The Biesse United States Headquarters was located only 12 minutes from my home in Charlotte, NC; it seemed as if everything lined up and my decision to join the company made sense and was meant to be.”
On Climbing the Ladder
Now as she talks about celebrating her 25th Anniversary with Biesse Group America, great pride resonates in her voice. “I was so fortunate to be able to grow and climb the ladder as the company was cultivating and evolving. We had growth in revenues, expanding divisions, acquisitions, number of employees and therefore organic opportunities came with every phase of my career from the start.” After promotions to Chief Financial Officer in 2005 and Executive Vice President of Operations in 2011 Kaltsounis-Kampiziones was named Chief Operating Officer in April 2019.
On Sustaining Happy Customers
Throughout her career, how she defines her own success has aligned perfectly with how the company defines success: making every single customer happy. “With every customer success story where we provided solutions and support to our customers’ manufacturing and production needs, we as a team at Biesse are also successful. This is where I find the greatest sense of pride and satisfaction.”
On Career Lessons
“An important component to success is having a sponsor who supports and believes in you. Someone to coach and guide you throughout your career. When Federico Broccoli arrived at Biesse America from Biesse France in 1998, he became my sponsor and for the years that have followed, we’ve partnered and shared many successes.”
“During my career, I’ve learned that it is very important to look at every interaction and situation from both sides of the story. I conscientiously focus on three things: 1) remain open-minded, 2) listen before you speak, 3) be humble or assertive when necessary. I take every opportunity to build relationships with all my colleagues, from different backgrounds, experiences, and talents at all levels. I strive to learn from them and help them gain insight and understanding of the company and how critical and vital the role they play is within the bigger picture.”
On Rewarding Results
For Kaltsounis-Kampiziones there have been many rewarding moments over 25 years, but one stands out the most. “After 20 years of our teams’ hard work, growth, acquisitions, staging trade shows, strategic investments in inventory and marketing, and hiring new talents, all our efforts came together brilliantly to produce a record-breaking show in 2015. That was probably my proudest moment.”
On Hopes for the Industry: New Talent
The advances in automation and technology should not be considered as a replacement of people, especially with regards to the impact on career opportunities in our industries. Kaltsounis-Kampiziones sees how technology is creating opportunities for new and emerging talents. “In evolving times like these, our industry will continue to create jobs—in areas such as design, manufacturing optimization, analytics, and production efficiencies. I have faith that our industry shall attract a new wave of talent, creating jobs and continuing to keep manufacturing in North America strong.”
On Hopes for the Industry: Diversity
When she joined Biesse 25 years ago, women were very rare in the industry. Today, they’re still not the norm in management and higher-level positions. That reality has never stopped her from achieving her goals. She says the beauty of Biesse is that they have helped her play hard in the world of work, defy the odds, and break down the walls that form perceptions about gender, cultural and ethnic diversity.Overall, her major takeaway from 25 years with Biesse is this: “Even though we are much bigger and more dynamic, we still operate and treat colleagues the same as the ‘small’ company I walked into in 1995. The Selci family is still truly appreciative and supportive. They are just good people. My advice to anyone who is researching a company they might want to work for, is this: Look at who the owners and main stakeholders are; look at the pride they have in their people; look at how much total passion they have for their work. That makes all the difference in having a long and satisfying career with one company.”