Rob DeSanti officially became TripSpark Transit's new General Manager on February 1, 2021. When asked about his rise to GM, Rob chuckles at just how far he's swerved from his early career aspirations.
"Believe it or not, I originally wanted to be a firefighter. But while waiting to enroll in the program, an opportunity in business development presented itself in Toronto."
In fact, Rob spent over a decade in the analytical and geological laboratory testing industry, growing sales offices and laboratories in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and Montreal.
Ready for a change, Rob focused his efforts where his interest lay – in the technology field, accepting a position with Deighton Associates, a global infrastructure asset management software company. At Deighton Rob recalls;
"my focus was to grow their footprint and operations in the US, European and Australasian markets. This was accomplished through organic growth and a strategic acquisition in Vienna, Austria".
Having worked in the infrastructure asset management industry for over 9 years, Rob regularly crossed paths with several Volaris organizations, and he was always impressed with how the organization operated.
Next Move - TripSpark Technologies
When Rob learned that TripSpark was searching to fill the newly vacant GM role for Transit, he jumped at the opportunity. Rob's business acumen and leadership experience make him the perfect fit for the job, and the business is looking forward to what will certainly be a very positive impact on the company and the industry.
"I feel rejuvenated and excited for this next chapter in my career, in the same way I did when beginning my journey many years ago. TripSpark and the team are full of passion, with a strong desire to grow our business. And being part of this growth is a privilege, which I will not take lightly."
Rob's Management Style
Rob fosters a cooperative and open communication style of management. He strongly believes that;
"the best ideas come from strong collaboration, so if we approach conversations with a predetermined agenda or a closed mind, we just might miss out on the next big idea".
Rob does not subscribe to a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Rather, he prefers to lead situationally, understanding that people have differing motivations, personalities, and aspirations. He doesn't find it effective to approach everyone in the same manner.
"Good leaders will always take the time to understand their team members individually so that they can best work together in achieving the company’s and their individual goals"
The Future of Transit & TripSpark
We've had nearly a year to adjust to the current and long-term effects of COVID. Rob believes that when this is all over, we will continue to see similar trends as before. User expectations will focus on factors like greater mobility, convenience, and cost-consciousness. Bridging the gap between the status quo and trying to meet increasing customer demands, will be key to success post COVID.
Rob predicts that the market will also continue to be infiltrated by disrupters like Uber, Lyft, Lime, etc. and we need to find innovative ways to capitalize on these disruptions through strategic thought and planning. That said, the micro transit sector has incredible potential for the transit industry, particularly with younger generations who embrace public transit and are less inclined to operate their own vehicles for the sake of sustainability.
When asked about TripSpark's future, Rob believes that we are part of a great market segment and he's looking forward to helping the business realize its full potential.
Honesty as Inspiration
From early on in his career, Rob learned that open and honest communication was the quickest route to earning client trust and respect. After moving from Montreal to Toronto and starting as a Business Development Representative, he was tasked with managing a very large account for his employer. With limited training, Rob took a meeting with a client who was a senior decision-maker, to determine why billings were down on the account. This would have been a daunting first meeting for any young salesperson, never mind one who was new to the role.
Rob decided that honesty was the best policy as he sat across from his client wondering how to approach the discussion. Rob recounts;
"The meeting started with him asking what I would like to discuss. Still having no idea about him or the account, I decided to reply as honestly as possible. I explained to him that I was in fact new to the company and had limited knowledge about our business relationship, and that it would be greatly appreciated if we spent time discussing our contract, their concerns and what they were hoping to accomplish through our program. He immediately appreciated my honesty and took the time to explain everything to me. Over the next 3 or so years, not only did this account grow in annual billings, but the executive I met that first day, became my mentor, and he helped me tremendously in the industry. In fact, I’ve always attributed my early successes to him."
Over the years, Rob has told this story often, with the intention of sharing the importance and value of telling the truth. He explains that too often people hesitate to admit when they don’t know or understand something, and simply say what they “think” someone wants to hear. In his opinion, this approach accomplishes nothing, and it impedes our ability to learn and more importantly, to build trustworthy relationships.
Honesty and open communication are important measures for success, however loving what you do is the secret ingredient. Rob's mantra is:
“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”
As TripSpark Transit's new leader he advocates for a culture where individuals love what they do, and if successful, results will follow.
Did You Know…
Rob's an open book. From his personal goals, his interests beyond work and his family life, Rob seems to have found the key ingredients for a great work-life balance.
Rob is now just a few weeks into his new role as GM and he's hit the ground running. In his open-door, open-communication style, he's managed to host several virtual 'meet and greets' with his TripSpark Transit teams, and he's ready for all the exciting challenges 2021 will bring him.