Alex A. Molinaroli is an expert on motivating teams. But the retired chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls also knows a smooth sea has never made a skilled sailor. To reach success on the corporate ladder, one must step out of one’s comfort zone, according to Alex A. Molinaroli. As evidence, one of three founders and general partners of Snowcloud Capital made a decision to get an MBA 20 years into his career. While it was difficult returning to school later in his career, the work soon paid off for Alex A. Molinaroli, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of South Carolina and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Years later, Alex A. Molinaroli has once again stepped out of his comfort zone, launching the venture capital Snowcloud Capital with his partners. Alex A. Molinaroli has had an impressive legacy of executive leadership. He was at Johnson Controls for more than three decades, eventually becoming its Chairman and CEO. This is a long way from where Alex A. Molinaroli started, he hails from a lineage of engineers. “My father, brothers, uncles, and cousins are all graduate engineers,” Molinaroli says.
Family traditions be damned, Alex A. Molinaroli pioneered his own new path
It wasn’t until after earning his degree that Alex A. Molinaroli realized he wanted to enter into the world of sales and management. “I soon learned that the job of sales engineer was a great fit for me, allowing me the opportunity to work with customers helping them solve their problems.” When it comes to defining his management style, accountability is always at the top of the list. “Trust in your team. Have faith that the people you hired can handle new challenges,” Molinaroli shares. “This is how team members learn and grow. Take risks — and along the way, mistakes will be made. Learn from them. Every person and every business faces times of crisis. Give your team the tools they need to succeed.”
During his time as CEO of Johnson Controls, Alex A. Molinaroli ultimately led the company through its capstone achievement; merging with Tyco International as a part of the transformation of the company’s entire portfolio, taking it from an automotive supplier to a premium industrial company. He also expanded the company’s presence in China and changed the company’s capital allocation process.
Molinaroli joined Johnson Controls in 1983 and by 2003, he became vice president and general manager of the North American company’s Building Efficiency business. In 2007, he was appointed president of the company’s Power Solutions business. In his role at Power Solutions, he oversaw the brand’s battery business and integrated battery recycling, which was a game changer.
Specializing in streamlining business operations, Molinaroli understands the power of being present, available and authentic. As small and large companies continue to face problems that will likely bleed into the new year, the business mogul advises business leaders to ramp up communication and understand clients’ needs as well as employees’ needs.
The art of listening is the secret mixtape of success
“Listening is truly the greatest skill,” says Alex A. Molinaroli, who is a founding member of the Electrification Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group for the electrification of transportation. “There is so much that can be learned simply by listening. Investors and managers don’t always take the time to listen. We all bring different perspectives to the table.”
Alex A. Molinaroli also credits his problem-solving skills for his success. “I believe there is great power in working together,” Alex A. Molinaroli shares. “Effort to put together the best team possible is key so you can combine your experiences to create a totally new perspective.”
Alex A. Molinaroli also believes in assuring your team has access to the tools and knowledge to get their job done. “Be there for your team members if they need help — and get out of their way so they can get the job done,” Alex A. Molinaroli explains.
Alex A. Molinaroli learned some of his best business lessons during periods of economic strife. During the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008, which was the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression, the housing market collapsed and major automotive original equipment manufacturers were going bankrupt. Ford, Chrysler, and GM were in financial ruin. Alex A. Molinaroli recalls the company’s board of directors remained calm and supported and trusted management’s plan to steer through the storm. It was a powerful lesson Alex A. Molinaroli still carries with him today.
While he’s currently working with several small companies as an investor, board member and advisor, and obviously enjoys mentoring entrepreneurs — especially helping women-owned businesses gain access to stronger networks of contacts — he’s looking forward to a successful 2022 and spending more time with family and friends. At his oceanside home in Marathon, Florida, Molinaroli enjoys fishing, boating, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.
“Spend your time wisely,” says Molinaroli. “It’s the one thing you can’t get back.”