You’re not ‘just another’ employee – Mount Arlington Mayor Mike Stanzilis underscores importance of Picatinny mission

By Eric KowalJune 13, 2023

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - (from left) Joseph Nazzaro, former program manager for Leadership Morris, Mount Arlington Mayor Mike Stanzilis, Ed Ramirez, current program manager for LEAD Morris, speak to Picatinny Arsenal employees during a leadership presentation in the Lindner Conference Center on May 31.
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - (from left) Joseph Nazzaro, former program manager for Leadership Morris, Mount Arlington Mayor Mike Stanzilis, Ed Ramirez, current program manager for LEAD Morris, speak to Picatinny Arsenal employees during a leadership presentation in the Lindner Conference Center on May 31. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Todd Mozes) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. – U.S. Army garrison Picatinny Arsenal leadership rolled out the latest phase of their Leadership Speaker Series on May 31, as Mount Arlington, New Jersey, Mayor Mike Stanzilis spoke to employees about his own personal experiences.

“I’m a self-taught leader,” Stanzilis told the audience gathered in the Lindner Conference Center and watching virtually on MS Teams. “My life has gone through several reinventions. I started out, interestingly enough, as a musician.

“I spent the first 20 years of my life traveling the world as a full-time musician for hire, a professional bass player,” the mayor added. “I met my wife, had a family, the internet came along and ruined the music industry, so I went into the industry of providing security. I ended up managing 1,200 people, retired from that, and now I’m the vice president of business development for a large technology company. I’m also the Mayor of Mount Arlington.”

Stanzilis took a unique approach to his presentation as he opted to bring two colleagues on stage to assist in asking questions and telling his story.

Joseph Nazzaro, former program manager for Leadership Morris, and Ed Ramirez, current program manager for LEAD Morris, have known Stanzilis for a number of years through their work with the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1991, Leadership Morris is a chamber community education program that teaches business professionals and non-profit executives about the opportunities, challenges, institutions, and the people of Morris County. In 2022, Leadership Morris officially changed its name to LEAD Morris.

The curriculum is designed for both established leaders and for persons identified as future leaders whose business acumen and community consciousness will help to make a difference in the advancement of Morris County.

Recalling his first experience of breaking into the security industry without any knowledge of the field, Stanzilis thought he would be “just a security guard.” He quickly realized that nobody is “just a” anything. The mayor used his own personal realization to remind Picatinny Arsenal employees that no matter what their job is on the installation, whether you are an engineer, or work in finance, or maintenance, every position serves a higher purpose.

“No one is just a security guard, no one is just a patrol officer, no one is just a Department of Public Works employee, no one is ‘just anything’. You can all be leaders. You don’t need to have the term general, colonel, chief, mayor, in front of your name to be a leader.”

After being given a management position without any prior experience, Stanzilis continued to move up in the industry, eventually working for a large pharmaceutical firm. In that job he realized that he and his team weren’t just protecting assets visible to the naked eye, but that their mission had national and international implications. If they failed to meet their job requirements, the trickle-down effect could be catastrophic.

“Picatinny is such an important place,” Stanzilis said. “I’m not just saying that because we have a lot of residents in Mount Arlington that work here, but because of what you do for our country. Every day I go to work, I’m honored. No one owes me a job. I don’t feel anyone is entitled to a job. When you come to work at a place like this, you owe your employer a day’s work. You’re blessed to honor your employer. You honor yourself by doing that great day’s work. There’s an expression that you all know, ‘Be all you can be.’ It’s a cliché, but it’s a damn good one. Cliches last the test of time, because they’re good. You honor yourself, and your employer by doing that great day’s work, but here at Picatinny you’re honoring your country.”

Lt. Col. Alexander Burgos, Picatinny Arsenal garrison commander, hosted and opened up the event in the with brief comments and introduction, tying the connective loop between the wide variety of speakers invited to provide insight to Picatinny employees.

Stanzilis’ presentation took place approximately one month after social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk spoke to installation employees about his corporate leadership philosophies.

“Gary Vaynerchuk is a global celebrity, and we also have a presentation from author Simon Sinek coming up later this year,” Burgos said. “But there are different elements within the government and sometimes what gets lost is leadership at the local level. That’s the intent we are trying to display here with bringing in Mayor Stanzilis. He has many connections on the local level, with ties to Picatinny Arsenal and the community, so I wanted to bring him here to speak and provide some of his insights on leadership and what he does for the community.”

Picatinny Arsenal garrison leadership will continue to hold the leadership speaker series throughout the year. Announcements will be sent to the workforce via email and will allow for both in-person and virtual attendance.