Dennis Georgatos | Crain's Nashville

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Dennis Georgatos


Headquartered in New York, construction company Skanska USA also operates from a Nashville outpost. The growing landscape of Music City has kept the company, and Senior Vice President Dennis Georgatos, extremely busy. Recently, Georgatos has been involved in projects such as the new Lifeway Christian Resources headquarters, West Riverfront Park, Abe’s Garden and Fifth + Broadway.

The Mistake:

I guess one of the neat things about what I do is that each day is unpredictable and you have to make a lot of decisions. One of the things I learned is that these decisions you make are not always going to be right.

I was a field guy working as a project manager for 13 years and then got asked to come to the office about six years ago. That was a huge transition for me. When you work on the project side, you're very focused on your one job and run your own little one-job business. And then you go to the next one.

When I moved into the office side, it was more of an executive role and I started that transition from being a manager to being a leader in the business where I was overseeing the projects.

I never really put myself out there much as a vocal leader. I was one of those people who was more afraid of presenting than dying. I told myself that if I'm ever going to make it past this project management role, I'd have to address that. It took a lot for me to start doing that. I should have been networking more when I was on those projects, [but] I just kind of kept to my individual projects. I did a good job of it, but it wasn't preparing me to be the leader.

That was a big change. I'm more of a lead-by-example type of person. When you're asked to be a leader, while it's still important to lead by example, it also becomes important to be a good vocal leader as well. Realizing that took a while for me. I still, early on, would lean back onto my old habits because it was more of my comfort zone.

I intentionally make myself uncomfortable.

The Lesson:

I realized I needed to change or else I wouldn't progress in my career.

I do a lot of reflecting and look back on being true to what I'm trying to do with my career. One of the things I like to tell myself is that if it's something that will make me uncomfortable, I make myself do it. I know those are the things I need to be doing.

The word I look back on as I grow is to be intentional. I see when either I'm intentional or as a business we're intentional, we tend to be more successful. I'll meet folks and we'll say “Hey, we should work together,” and we meet once. And then six months later we meet again and nothing happens in those six months. It's because we're not being intentional.

Same thing goes with your career. I intentionally make myself uncomfortable. When you have that kind of focus, you'll end up being successful. It's easy to make excuses why you can't accomplish something.

Follow Dennis Georgatos on Twitter at: @dgeorgatos.

Pictured: Dennis Georgatos | Photo courtesy of Dennis Georgatos. 

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