Michael Paust, MBA ’97, credits his professional success to having opportunities to specialize in areas he enjoys, plus the extra benefit of having the support of leaders who share an interest in advancing that success.
In January, Paust was named vice president of business excellence at Boyden World Corp., a global leader in executive search. In this role, he leads the firm’s global quality and professional development program across Boyden’s international network of offices, spanning 42 countries and all continents.
Boyden recruited Paust from his previous position as director and chief of staff for PricewaterhouseCooper’s change and program effectiveness consulting practice, where his duties included managing project resourcing for New York Metro team members; recruitment and hiring; leading business development efforts; managing client engagement teams; and career coaching.
“In short,” he says, “Boyden made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse—an executive role, reporting directly to the president and CEO, and worldwide responsibility in an area where I had specialized for the past 10 years.
“In my prior role at PwC, I helped clients address the people issues surrounding business transformation and change,” Paust says. “At Boyden, I’ve taken on the role that many of my clients had as an internal driver of performance improvement and change. My focus is on introducing global improvements into our business that will help us ensure that we hire the best people, develop the people we already have, and improve the quality of services that we offer to our executive search clients.”
For someone who has achieved great success at a relatively young age, Paust unashamedly admits he doesn’t set specific career goals. “It is important to keep many doors open and to gravitate toward areas where you are competent, and enjoy the work,” Paust says. He also has personal beliefs that he feels have been key to his success, such as being ethical, treating colleagues with fairness and respect, and partnering with his direct reports in taking on joint accountability for their success.
Paust credits the School of Management’s Career Resource Center with helping him initially launch his career. “They helped me find exactly what I was looking for,” he says. “I wanted to break into management consulting right away and they linked me up with Telcordia Technologies, a world leader in technology consulting that had a growing management consulting practice and the desire to train new recruits.”
“The people at Telcordia took me under their wing, and during my five years with the company, I grew my competencies in process improvement, organization design, project management and change management,” Paust says.
The position also gave him the opportunity to live in many countries, including Greece, South Africa, The Philippines, South Korea, Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia and Ireland. To prepare for these new assignments, he called on John M. Thomas, professor of operations management and strategy and dean emeritus in the School of Management, whose courses on international business first gave Paust an interest in working with different cultures.
“Dr. Thomas gave me insights into the nuances of the various cultures and the challenges I might face in the countries I’d be working in,” Paust says. “I enjoyed having a mentor from UB to collaborate with.”
Many lessons he had to learn on his own, though. Such as, don’t go out for a moonlight stroll in Zimbabwe. Paust recounts, “I was leaving for a walk one evening when the hotel security people began frantically yelling at me to come back. Apparently, in that part of Zimbabwe there are lions and nighttime is when they hunt!”
After Telcordia, Paust worked at a boutique management consulting firm for two years before moving on to PricewaterhouseCoopers and eventually, Boyden.
What does he feel the future holds for him? “I hope to continue along the path of leading global performance improvement and business excellence programs for mid-sized companies,” he says, “but the ultimate long-term goal involves something radically different.”
Paust didn’t elaborate further, but smiled when mentioning that he keeps busy on the weekends with his photography business, “Michael Paust Photography,” specializing in family portraits on the beach along the coast of Long Beach Island, N.J., where he and his wife spend their summer weekends.
Written by Cathy Wilde