January 2019 - Meet My Network: Mark Tapy
* Meet My Network is a monthly blog series where Alyce highlights outstanding individuals within her network to share their professional and personal accomplishments
Mark Tapy is not only the Apprenticeship Program Manager at Pinnacol Assurance, but one of my oldest friends. I met Mark at Denver East High School in 1998 and I’ve grown to admire him through the years not only as a friend but as a professional as well.
One of Mark’s passions is helping youth and he is hands down the most hard working, caring and passionate person I’ve ever met.
For over 6 years Mark worked with Goodwill Industries of Denver as the Manager of Youth Career Development Services. He managed the staff functions, program design, reporting, funding solicitation and general programmatic processes related to the Youth Career Development Services Mentoring and Middle school teams. He also worked alongside the management team to strategically navigate the youth workforce development landscape to identify funding opportunities/resources and best match services provided with community needs.
Now, Mark works with Pinnacol Assurance. He is tasked with management, oversight and implementation of an apprenticeship program model atPinnacol Assurance in conjunction with the Colorado CareerWise state initiative.
Beginning in August of 2017, this initiative served 25 youth apprentices and provide them with training, career exposure and the workplace competencies to enter the insurance marketplace directly up on completion. To learn more about how the program works click here. CareerWise’s model of apprenticeship allows “a new approach to workforce development, augmenting education and, ultimately, providing Colorado’s youth new paths to success.”
In July of 2018 they launched their second cohort with 126 modern youth apprentices. “There are so many success stories from the first pilot year—employers seeing better than anticipated production and professional growth from apprentices, and students blossoming in their roles at work and becoming more engaged at school and at home,” said founder and CEO Noel Ginsburg, “We’re excited to deliver those same opportunities for professional and personal development to this group of apprentices.”
What fascinates me is that Mark could get a job anywhere and yet he chooses to dedicate his time to helping others. This is not the first time Mark has stepped up for community. Ever since I’ve known Mark he has been focused on others and making sure that those around him are supported and feel valued.
One of my favorite quotes from Mark, which you’ll also see in his answers below is the following, “Invest in people and relationships and find ways to give back when and where you can. Like I mentioned earlier, you are always planting seeds so do your best to plant them well and take care of them. Ultimately, you get out what you put in!”
Cleary I could go on and on about Mark and how awesome he is but go ahead and read the interview below, I know you’ll enjoy getting to know!
1. Why do you do what you do? Aka how do your values align with your work on a day to day basis?
One of the key influences on my life has been my community. Specifically, the adults, educators, mentors, coaches and groups that have given me the knowledgebase, wisdom, tools and relationships needed to progress and succeed both personally and professionally. For me, I have always felt a deep sense of gratitude for these “influencers” and have always made it my priority to serve, as best as I could, in the same fashion to the generations behind me. Helping our community continue to flourish and investing my energy into my work and the youth that I work with, serves as a natural extension of the modeling that was provided to me by the individuals that I most respect and admire. As a result, I feel deep alignment with my values and purpose through the work I do.
2. Tell us a bit about your journey that has helped you get to where you're at today?
It has been an eclectic ride, I started out in oil and gas as a wellsite geologist and then decided to transition towards work in the education and youth workforce development space (seeking values alignment). I have really had three stints of employment thus far in my career and in each case the opportunities somehow found me. I have often felt that the universe puts you where it needs you and I think my career path has been an embodiment of that. On my journey I have applied for opportunities that I have not received and I think that in each case the closed door lead me to other more preferable open ones. Ultimately, I think that building a solid reputation related to work quality, being dependable, placing a high premium on seeking to understand others and developing intentional professional relationships have been the keys to my success. People want to work with others that they can depend on and collaborate with. If you build the foundation of your professional brand around those two pillars then you can establish quite a bit of momentum in your career.
3. How has networking, both personally and professionally helped your business and/or career?
I literally have not had a job in my life that was not the direct result of networking/my network. What’s amazing is that in many cases, these opportunities have come from members of my network that I had met early in my life/career but still kept me in mind despite the passage of time. I think the lesson there is that you are constantly planting seeds in the form of relationships with others, so it is important to do so intentionally and that you also maintain the relationships once they are established. You never know when and where relationships in your network might resurface, so keep those seeds watered!
4. If you had to pick one networking tip, tool or strategy that's increased your confidence what would you say it is? (ie: utilizing body language, perfecting your elevator pitch, having a strong mental game, knowing the 'right people', following up etc.)
I think everyone’s approach is as unique as their personality and I think that being able to genuinely present yourself is crucial. Don’t feel like you have to be someone different. Not everyone wants an overly enthusiastic “closer” type. So, be you, ask questions and genuinely listen. What you may have to do is adjust your comfort with initiating conversation. Just pushing yourself to ask that first question, or make the choice to approach someone vs. looking at your phone can make all the difference.
5. What specific strategies or tactics do you utilize to maintain your various networks?
I try to find ways to maintain contact with friends, colleagues (both past and current) and mentors regularly. This is not easy but ranges from simply checking in via social media, email or text, to setting aside regular lunch/coffee windows with the express purpose of filling them with meetings related to connecting/reconnecting. I also have an accountability group that I set goals with at the start of the year and follow up with on a quarterly basis. This “regimented” group model is a great way to stay in touch with good friends while simultaneously keeping each other accountable to our goals.
6. What challenges or obstacles have you faced along the way and how have you overcome them?
I think not having a true career path or “dream job” has always been a challenge for me. I have always had a sense of the values that I aimed to embody and the type of impact that I was hoping to impart, but I did not necessarily have a sense of the vehicle or means of how I was going to do so. This semi ambiguous road forced me to not be afraid of taking opportunities that served as experiments and temperature checks which allowed me to gauge whether or not certain roles got me closer or further away from enacting the impact I sought. Even the roles that turned out to be less in line with where I wanted to be ultimately helped me broaden and deepen my network, so I am grateful for those experiences.
7. What are your 'secrets' to success?
Invest in people and relationships and find ways to give back when and where you can. Like I mentioned earlier, you are always planting seeds so do your best to plant them well and take care of them. Ultimately, you get out what you put in!
8. Where can people find you online or in networking situations to meet you in person?
I am available on LinkedIn, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone and typically aim at connecting with people in person for lunch or coffee a couple times a week. Please feel free to reach out!
9. Anything else you’d like people to know about you, your philosophy on networking or about business in general?
I am the Apprenticeship Program Manager at Pinnacol Assurance working closely with the statewide apprenticeship program CareerWise Colorado. If anyone would like to learn more about the work that I do, they can reach out to me directly or go to https://www.careerwisecolorado.org/
Thank you Mark for your sharing your wisdom with us, it’s truly an honor to know you and have you in our community!