August 2010

Beyond the call of duty

Grassroots leader Adam Tonnos is making his community a better a place

By R. Pillo

Adam Tonnos 

Easter Seals Local Ambassador Amy Adair (right) presenting Tonnos with Caring Corporate Award for BESTECH

Since graduating from Queen’s University’s engineering physics department, Sudbury-native Adam Tonnos  has put his ideas — and ideals — into action, answering the call to lead and making his community a better place to live, work and raise a family. For his efforts, Tonnos received this year’s CIM Past Presidents’ Memorial Medal, presented to a CIM member 45 years of age or less who has set an outstanding example to the organization’s and industry’s young men and women.

Tonnos began his career with BESTECH, a Canadian leader in industrial automation, environmental monitoring and software development, during his second year of university, and has risen through the ranks to become the company’s sales manager. 

“After working three weeks at my summer job at a local bakery and having my ears and nose stuffed with flour all day, I had enough,” he recalls. “So, I emailed Marc Boudreau, BESTECH’s founder, and asked if my C.V. had come through.” This pro-active move not only secured Tonnos a summer position as a software developer at BESTECH, but another summer job the following year and, consequently, a full-time position upon graduating in 2002.

Tonnos had no idea his career path would lead him to the mining industry. “I wanted an organization that I would be able to contribute to,” he says. “I was looking at it from that perspective as opposed to the actual role. At that time, BESTECH had only 15 employees and I saw its huge growth potential. I wanted to know how the company worked, get a feel for the industry it served, and see if I could make a difference within it.”

From project manager to architect, Tonnos has played several key roles that contributed tremendously to the company, before moving on to sales management. “As the team grew, I was able to take on additional responsibilities and project management roles,” he explains. “I worked closely with the CEO, Marc Boudreau and I was able to learn so much from him — from sales strategies to technical ingenuity — by listening and putting into practice the things he has done to make BESTECH so successful.”

“Aha!” moment

A defining moment in Tonnos’ life came while walking with his wife in downtown Sudbury one evening. “I just turned to her and said ‘I want to be a community leader’ — that was it.”  Ever since then, Tonnos has been hard at work giving back to his community, from mentoring a child in the Big Brothers program to participating in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life walk. “Giving back to the community and volunteering is an important part of the BESTECH culture as well, and management supports its team members joining local community organizations’” says Tonnos.  “These experiences are unbelievably rewarding, not only for personal growth, but also that you are contributing. The acknowledgment and gratitude I’ve received has taught me to show my appreciation to those who are doing good things for others. ”

“I have always had a hard time saying no,” says Tonnos. And CIM could not be more pleased. Much like his experience at BESTECH, Tonnos has held several positions on CIM’s Sudbury Branch executive — treasurer, then vice-chair and today as branch chair. When Tonnos decides to get involved, he jumps in with both feet. “Having that vision of where I want to be, at least in the short-term, helped me to make the decision,” he says. “As long as the volunteer work is aligned with who I am and what I value, I’ll get in there.”

Leading by example

Inspired by the BESTECH’s learning culture, Tonnos hopes to reciprocate.  “The willingness to not only grow a company but to grow its employees as well makes me want to treat people the same way that I have been treated, especially now since the BESTECH team is growing so quickly.  Dialogue happens more freely when there is a sense of learning from one another. Mutual learning and open communication are powerful tools in a fast-paced innovative company like BESTECH.”

Tonnos is now embarking on a new mentoring endeavor at the company.  He plans to coach employees to help them grow personally and professionally in an effort to establish long-term goals and objectives for themselves.  “I believe that introducing employees to goal-setting and planning will help them and the company grow exponentially,” he explains.

Tonnos is a living testament to the benefits you receive from becoming actively involved. As such, he urges students entering the workforce to get involved. “Whether through your company or community involvement, there are plenty of opportunities to leave your mark,” he says. “If those opportunities are not evident, then ask people where help is needed. Whether through CIM or at BESTECH, I never worked towards the role or position I was hired for, but rather towards what needed to get done. Going beyond my duty has helped both my professional and personal advancement.”

Tonnos credits his desire to contribute to the industry and his community to the loving relationship he has at home with his wife and three young children. “My wife has played a tremendous part in helping me become the person I am today,” he says. “Her ability to think and plan for the long-term complements my energy and enthusiasm. I absolutely want to be a positive influence in the lives of my children.” It is this commitment that makes for an outstanding community leader.

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