RTM’s CEO Tony Mirchandani recently spoke to correspondent Liisa Andreassen from The Zweig Group‘s The Zweig Letter for the May 18th issue about about how he’s pragmatically built his career and how encourages sustainable growth within his firm. Below is the full story:
A Leading Strategy
RTM’s CEO Tony Mirchandani has built his career pragmatically and encourages sustainable growth within his firm.
By Liisa Andreassen
Tony Mirchandani, CEO, RTM (South Barrington, IL), a 100-person engineering consulting firm, has expertise in business development, financial management, and engineering. Upon joining RTM in 2001, his vision and leadership resulted in a three-fold growth in revenue.
Before joining RTM, he was involved in corporate venturing with HON Industries and two start-ups in the technology and consulting fields. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering and a technological entrepreneurship certificate from the University of Iowa in 1998. In 2006, he received an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.
Mirchandani has been included in Lexington’s Who’s Who of Executives and Professionals for his successful service business and an e-commerce business start-ups. He was also featured on the cover of Inc. magazine in March 1998 as one of the future “HOT” entrepreneurs in the Midwest. Additionally, Mirchandani sat on the board for the Governor’s 2010 Strategic Planning Council of Iowa.
In his role as RTM’s CEO, he consistently seeks out opportunities for the company to grow its market share, while enhancing the services it offers to clients.
“To achieve a balance between our external and internal goals, I am continually striving to construct internal systems that support pragmatic sustainable growth,” he says. “Some of the ways I support this growth is by developing a strong leadership team and a company culture that makes RTM one of the best places to work.”
A conversation with Mirchandani
The Zweig Letter: What are your key strengths? What do you feel the key strengths are for an effective leader?
Tony Mirchandani: As a leader, I constantly demand more of myself and seek ways to improve. I know that I don’t have all the answers, so I make a point to consult with my industry-savvy colleagues for guidance. I strive to create a work environment that encourages knowledge sharing, and RTM has achieved this by hiring and empowering great team members.
A fundamental requirement for a great leader is to provide a common vision and a strategy to achieve it. A key strength of my leadership style consists of challenging the traditional approach to doing things, taking responsibility for failures, and being able to commend a job well done. As the firm grows larger, I believe it is important to keep a humble, yet strong, company culture where everyone, from intern to principal, succeeds and fails together.
TZL: How would you describe your work style?
TM: My work style is continuously shifting; I enjoy juggling many different topics or subjects at any given time. I always think 10 steps ahead, strategizing for one, three, and five years down the road. I believe it is important to continually improve my knowledge in leadership, as well as in the A/E industry.
TZL: What has been your greatest challenge to date, and how did you deal with it?
TM: The Great Recession was simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding periods in RTM’s history. It forced us to think long and hard about what we needed to do to be better tomorrow than we did yesterday. When someone has a heart attack, it serves as a reality check: Change your habits, or you won’t be around for long. During the recession, it became apparent that the only way to survive was to grow the firm with a purpose, rather than for the sake of growth alone. We approached the challenge by re-vamping our organizational structure and focusing on our marketing and business development efforts. We built a base of clients whose design philosophy aligned with ours and left the rest behind.
TZL: What is your leadership style?
TM: I approach leadership by empowering my team to the fullest extent possible. In doing so, the company has successfully avoided the sporadic and political conditions that naturally develop in any growing organization. A key requirement of a leader is to not only share the vision of the organization, but to also have the ability to roll up your sleeves and help accomplish it.
TZL: What is your vision for the future of RTM?
TM: To become one of the top three engineering firms in any market in which we operate.
TZL: What do you enjoy in your spare time?
TM: If you read any of the first seven answers, you’d see that I really have no spare time. All joking aside, I do enjoy spending time skiing, sailing, and traveling with my family.
TZL: What is something that no one knows about you at the firm?
TM: I spent 10 days in Israel, 10 days in China, climbed Mt. Fuji, and backpacked through Alaska for five days. Another interesting fact is that I started my career at a furniture manufacturing company in Iowa.