Reveals his greatest personal accomplishment—“Taking my accounting degree from Adelphi and rising to chairman of a public company.”
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Chairman, UniTek Global ServicesTransferred to Adelphi: for the internship opportunities the University had to offer. “I got an internship with Peat Marwick Mitchell through Adelphi, and then the firm offered me a full time job upon graduating.”
What he looks for when hiring a new employee out of college:“Drive. I’d rather hire the individual who really needs the money, really needs to grow, and is ambitious—opposed to the person who gets out of college with the attitude that I just need a job and am just going to skate through, 9:00 to 5:00.”
In his free time: “With my company in Pennsylvania and my family on Long Island, I’m away a lot. My free time is dedicated to spending time with my wife and kids.”
Driving Growth and Success
What does Peter Giacalone consider to be his greatest personal accomplishment? “Taking my accounting degree from Adelphi and rising to chairman of a public company,” he says.
“I graduated from Adelphi and figured I’d just have a career in accounting and finance. I quickly saw that these disciplines give you the depth that you need to do other things: get involved in sales and marketing, run a company—things that are not necessarily college courses, but when you are exposed to them, you learn them,” he says. “And you always rely back on your accounting and finance skills to figure them out.”
Mr. Giacalone got his start in accounting at Peat Marwick Mitchell [now KPMG]. Following three years at the firm, he went to work for NYNEX, and pursued his master’s degree from his alma mater. While commuting into the city for work, he took advantage of “Adelphi on Wheels,” the innovative M.B.A. program the School of Business offered in the 1970s and 1980s, which allowed students to earn credits while traveling to work by railroad.
“It was a great use of time,” he says. “Instead of spending an hour and 10 minutes reading the newspaper or sleeping, I squeezed in a 50 minute class. I was able to complete four courses on the train, which was cool.” Mr. Giacalone completed his M.B.A. from Adelphi in 1986, and was recruited by a former manager at KPMG who had left the firm to go to the financial printing company, Pandick, Inc.
As an undergraduate student at Adelphi, Mr. Giacalone held a full time job to pay for his education. His solid work ethic translated to his professional life. “I did whatever it took early in my career: weekends, being here until 2 o’clock in the morning, overnighters,” he says. “I was never one to shun the responsibility and time commitment that came with the position.”
His hard work paid off. At Pandick, he rose to the position of CFO, after which he was recruited to work for the international media and entertainment company, News Corporation, in 1996. As News Corp’s Vice President of Finance, he was involved in every facet of the company’s financial operations, including: mergers and acquisitions, strategic development, business development, financial analysis, and investor relations.
News Corp, which operated in over 100 countries, also required he travel the world. “Brazil, Mexico, Moscow, Budapest, Warsaw, Milan, Shanghai, India, Romania. You name it, I was there,” he says. “Wherever we were doing deals, I had no trouble going. I was a guy who was married with two kids and willing to go around the world—these are the subtle things that get recognized, that help you advance,” he says. “Others who balked at being out of town—they hit the glass ceiling quickly.”
In late 2004, when News Corp acquired a stake in DirecTV, Mr. Giacalone was appointed Executive Vice President of Customer Satisfaction. In this capacity, he oversaw call center operations, home services, and fulfillment and supply chain management.
After a year in this role, he was recruited by 180 Connect (a publicly traded outsourced infrastructure services provider) to turn around the company. “The business was in dire straits when I got there. There was no culture, a poor morale, negative cash flow…,” he says. Over the course of his three and a half years as the company’s CEO, he executed initiatives (including process reengineering, financial restructure, and the development of business intelligence tools driving responsibility and accountability) that took 180 Connect from nearly 180 million in sales to approximately 425 million in sales.
Today Mr. Giacalone is Chairman of UniTek Global Services, which, along with DirecTV, acquired 180 Connect in 2008. UniTek is a provider of construction management and installation fulfillment services to companies specializing in the telecommunications, broadband cable, wireless, two-way radio, transportation, public safety, and satellite industries. UniTek has 111 offices throughout the United States and Canada, and has a workforce of over 6,000.
One might ask where the man, who always seems to be looking for the next challenge, sees himself in five years. “With this company,” says Mr. Giacalone, who has gotten this business well positioned, and is ready to build it. Among his goals are to diversify the business, have an “international flair” someday, and to add other divisions. “We do cable fulfillment, satellite fulfillment, wireline construction, wireless construction, and public safety—right now we have 5 divisions. Three years ago there were 3 divisions. Two years ago there were 4 divisions. Four years from now there may be 8 divisions. Technology will tell us what those divisions will be.”
Mr. Giacalone continues to grow the company—with no end in sight. In 2008 UniTek was an approximately $170 million business. Now it’s a $500 million business. “I want to be a billion dollar business, so in three years, we should be a billion dollar business,” he says. “It will take a lot of hard work to get there, but that’s a milestone for us.”
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