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Articles > Up Close with Katie Smarilli – Board Member Profile
You’ve been named among the Commonwealth’s Top 50 Women in business. What leadership skills do you believe helped you to secure this recognition?
My current work with closely held businesses, as well as my past leadership roles at great banks, such as Wachovia Bank, Fulton, BNY/Mellon, and PNC, taught me a lot about leadership. Good leaders learn quickly that the strength of their team directly determines their success. In addition, all successful business leaders need to be laser focused on their customers, whose needs should be top of mind every day. It is important for leaders to set the example of simply ‘doing the right thing’ for customers and employees no matter what. The talented and engaged people that I worked with over the years helped me to be the best I can be. My goal has always been to inspire, challenge, and support all members of the teams I lead. I have been lucky to work with some of the best and brightest business people in Central Pennsylvania who are now CEOs and presidents of local banks and companies. It has been a joy to watch them grow and thrive. Lastly, I always try to find time to support the communities where I live and work.
How can female business leaders promote each other’s success in their chosen careers?
Diversity in our workforce is the reality. It is essential in today’s world to mobilize a remarkable team with diversity of thought and opinion to solve complex problems. The strongest leadership techniques are everyday practice for my peers in the Women Presidents’ Organization of Harrisburg. I try to reflect those techniques in my own leadership and instill them in others. My experience shows that success and strong performance follow when leaders ensure diverse views are represented in day-to-day operations and that everyone’s talent is valued and respected.
Smarilli Strategic Partners understand the important role that businesses play in their communities. How do you help them to focus on the growth of their business while securing their financial profiles?
I truly believe in servant leadership. As vice chair of Penn Medicine/LGH Foundation, and as past president of the Penn State Alumni Association, I see firsthand how business leaders make incredible contributions to the success of our community through their personal and business volunteer efforts. When I join an organization, I ask myself how I can make a meaningful difference with my time and energy. Selfless giving of time, talent, and treasure ensures our community becomes a better place.
What do you enjoy most about working with your clients?
Our work at Smarilli Strategic Partners is broad and deep. We impact the fabric of what makes Pennsylvania great: closely held businesses and their legacy in our state. Smarilli Strategic Partners helps guide these businesses through remarkable growth, smooth transition to the next generation or new ownership, or simply forging better paths to becoming the best they can be. I love the diversity of Pennsylvania’s business community and the challenge each business brings to our team. In the end, it’s all about our relationship with each of our clients, building trust, and solving problems together.
What advice would you give to business leaders who are working to develop or expand their business?
We have great business entrepreneurs in our state whose businesses span multiple generations. As a banker and now an investment banker, I have seen these companies grow and thrive through many economic ups and downs. I feel very lucky to actively support these businesses as they make important decisions for their next phase, whether it is growth through acquisition, transitioning to a new owner or to the next generation, or deciding to regroup, revamp and move in a different direction. The successful business owners with whom I work strive to constantly reinvent themselves. These owners are not happy with the status quo because they know that satisfaction sometimes slows progress. Their key to success is perseverance and the ability to move forward no matter what. Building a great team and enlisting help from the best advisers in their field keeps them nimble and ready for the ever changing business climate. I am humbled to support each company I work with and I marvel at their ability to make a difference in our great state.