In celebration of Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, we asked our CEO, Nina Joshi, to answer a series of questions and to share her thoughts on her father, Kris Joshi, the Founder and Chairman of UES, Inc. We think you’ll appreciate Nina’s candid insights about her father Kris…. let’s take a peek behind the curtain and learn more about Kris and Nina.Q: Did your father take you under his wing and guide you towards UES leadership? What did you do to prepare?
A: He was smarter than that. He appointed one of his friends/colleagues as CEO and Jim Clifford mentored me. Of course, my father did mentor me but often it is more difficult to work with family. Sometimes he gave me advice that I know was correct, but I was not always in a position to implement it. Most of the time I was able to implement the intent of his mentoring.
Q: Taking the reins of the family business could have seemed super intimidating. When did you know that you were ready? Are you ever ready?
A: Yes, it is incredibly intimidating to take over a family business especially when I had no business experience or background. And, in answer to your second question, I was never ready, and I told my father I would leave if I hated it. However, I jumped in and worked with Melanie Tomczak and her division, the Biological and Nanoscale Technologies Division, to begin building it and making it stronger. From there I hired Ruth Carpenter, who still works closely with me today, and she and Melanie helped me create an agenda to move the company forward. The other Division Directors were supportive of me joining the team, but I didn’t change anything in their Divisions until I had been successful in the Biological and Nanoscale Technologies Division. This took more time but provided buy in once we created some successes.
Q: What wisdom has your Dad, Kris Joshi, imparted to you about leading UES, Inc.?
A: My Dad provided many kernels of wisdom throughout my years at UES. The most important piece of advice was to treat your employees well! Treat your customers well and try to align with their needs. It is more important to protect and treat your employees well than it is to treat your customers well. Sometimes, you need to fire a customer. And, most importantly, we are here not to make money, but to work hard, make a good/decent living and help others do the same. Respecting and helping people is more important than just the money.
I have to say, most of our customers are amazing, so we have not had to fire any customers. We had one instance in 16 years where we considered it.
Q: Being a family-owned business for almost 50 years now, how intimidating was it to take the head leadership role? Like, what if you messed up?
A: These are complicated interactions that have many complex feelings. I knew I truly understood my Dad’s vision and could implement it, and it motivated me because it was my father’s and family’s heritage but it was/is also terrifying because failure is not an option.
Q: How are you most like your Father? How are you most different?
A: I think we are very different. I understand his vision and world view and we essentially believe the same things, but we execute in a very different manner. I wish I was as generous and as he as positive. I have glimpses of these, but I am not practiced yet. I am definitely better at growing a business then being an entrepreneur. I am more risk-averse then he is. I don’t know if it’s an inherent trait or developed because of the stage of the business when I took over.
Q: How was your Dad different from other Dads, your friend’s Dads?
A: My Dad is the most generous, positive man you will ever meet!
Q: How do you and your Father’s leadership styles differ?
A: That is a good question. It is difficult to really know because I only saw him in the twilight of his career not in the beginning or end and people evolve and shift their approach during their lifetime. I believe that I am more hands on then my father. He is a better cheerleader than I am.
Q: What would you like to say to your Dad this Father’s Day?
A: You are an incredible man and have had a successful and amazing life. We thank you for everything you have given to us and our kids. We hope to make you proud.