Check Out Alvaro Vaselli’s Story
Alvaro, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was originally born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and it was there I developed a passion for innovation, advanced materials and business early on in my career after I earned my Master’s Degree. Although I graduated as an engineer, I never really had intentions to go that route but it served as a good base for everything else I wanted to do. I always had a business and commercial mindset – I loved the challenge of problem solving and leveraging logic throughout my every day to find solutions that would help people. During my experience at Dow and my first job I had the opportunity to do a rotation which involved customer service, sales and even R&D. My six months in the lab and focus on R&D really pushed me to understand the fundamentals of creating a product and its impact on certain things – for example how different formulations and tweaking ingredients could result in different outputs and performance. That is where it all started for me and it served as a great learning opportunity that led me to my passion for technology and innovation. I eventually moved to the U.S. and continued my career with a focus on business management, materials and international expansion. I went on to lead multi-hundred million-dollar businesses with a global presence and with an entrepreneurial spirit built my own e-commerce company for sleep products. Today I have the fortunate opportunity to lead Denver-based SKYDEX – a global player in advanced impact mitigation and energy absorption solutions – and help the company accelerate growth with their incredible team and technologies.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve always had a growth mindset and an appetite for continuous learning. Every bump in the road has served as a learning opportunity and as I continue to progress in my career, I turn these past events into invaluable life lessons. The biggest takeaway I’ve acquired over the years is to understand the importance of a great team and align them with the company, including roles, responsibilities and their personal goals. Trying to align all those moving parts is not an easy task but it’s a critical combination for long-term success.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
SKYDEX is in the business of protecting people and things that matter. We leverage technology, know how, a strong IP portfolio, manufacturing capabilities and an amazing passionate team to create solutions that offer protection in a variety of markets and geographies. We are known for our technologies in impact mitigation and energy absorption. We service markets such as military, law enforcement, marine, sports, electronics, office furniture, etc. with a wide range of products and solutions that provide safety, protection and comfort. SKYDEX is known as a global leader and the go-to-partner for impact mitigation, vibration attenuation and energy absorption. I’m most proud of our team, their dedication to the business, their innovative minds and their passion for protecting people and things that matter as well as their commitment to servicing customers like I’ve never seen before.
Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I do consider myself a risk taker. I’ve always had a growth mindset; hence I do have a bias towards risk. Not only does it make things more exciting but it increases your chances for success. And even when you fail, there is learning associated with it and in my opinion, equally or even more important. I’ve always been thoughtful about the risk-reward equation and have embraced many risks in my career and personally. Most have propelled me forward; others have strengthened me. A few examples are: leaving my first job at Dow (very stable and secure) after 6 years to join a startup effort with ARCO in South America was a big risk. Another one was moving to the US with my wife (she left her business) and my son who was 8 months at the time. Moving from Lyondell, a very large and stable company, to Foamex/FXI, a much smaller company with a weaker financial position was a risky, but it resulted in amazing business leadership learnings and career growth. Starting my own company was another significant risk followed by incredible learnings that I’ve been able to apply to my current role as President and CEO of SKYDEX Technologies. The last one was a few weeks ago when I decided to hike my second fourteener by myself. I’m new to the fourteener scene in Colorado and when I pondered the risk-reward, I smiled and just went for it with vigor.
Success – How do you, personally, define success? What’s your criteria, the markers you’re looking out for, etc.? Who also deserves credit? Have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so, who are they and what role did they plan/how did they help?
To me success means helping others achieve their goals. I’m always thinking about how I can help someone, whether in a business setting with employees, colleagues, customers, suppliers, investors or in my own personal life with my kids, my wife, friends and family.
Typical markers are other people’s goals and objectives. Am I helping our employees achieve their personal goals, advance their careers, achieve financial growth? Am I helping our customers solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity? Am I helping our investors obtain the return they expect from their investments? Am I helping my kids see the possibilities and live a life that they love and grow and help other people? Am I helping my wife live a life of love as she deserves? These are some of the markers that tell me whether I’m doing the right thing or if I need to adjust my path.
I’ve been fortunate to have wonderful mentors, supporters, cheerleaders along the way in my career. Many have watched my journey of successes, learnings and challenges and are still a part of my network today. Encouragement, risk taking, guidance, mentorship, support and feedback are just a few of the benefits I have received over the years from this network of supporters. The biggest credit, though, goes to my family – they have always been there for me, regardless of circumstances.