5 Questions for Wargo French’s David Pernini

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WICT SOUTHEAST BLOG WRITER, ANA ADLER SAT DOWN WITH David Pernini TO ASK HIM SOME QUESTIONS AND GET THE SCOOP ON WARGO FRENCH’S LEVEL UP: CHARTING A NEW COURSE WHEN YOUR CAREER IS AT A CROSSROAD FOR WICT SOUTHEAST. DON’T MISS THIS EXECUTIVE MEMBER EVENT, MAY 21ST IN ATLANTA.

 

Name: David Pernini

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role? 

Managing Partner – Wargo French, a full-service law firm based in Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles

 

 

 

 

What is your background and did you get involved with Cable Television?

 

It was through the law firm. My dad was in the Navy so I moved all around as a kid and landed in Atlanta in 1997. The Cable Industry is so big in Atlanta that, when you practice law, it’s almost impossible not to get involved. Working with the Cable Industry was something that happened organically. I think broadcasting in all forms brings up so many diverse legal issues that remain interesting and challenging.  It changes so much; you always have to be looking 3 or 4 steps ahead as to what the next technology is going to be. We’ve seen in our lifetime so many different types of technology and what appears will be the next great thing often fizzles out quickly and the technology you didn’t expect becomes huge. I remember when I first heard about Twitter and I thought it seemed like a silly idea and now it dominates. You have to be prepared.

 

Why did you join WICT and why do you support it?  What about WICT makes it important for other men to join?

 

I joined WICT through Wargo French. We’ve always had very strong women lawyers here. It always surprised me how for a long time in the legal profession it was just assumed that you had to be the white male with the gray hair to get the corner office. There’s so much talent out there that’s ignored and shouldn’t be ignored just because it doesn’t fit that paradigm. So, when Wargo French started supporting WICT it seemed like a perfect idea, and having men be a part of WICT reinforces that overcoming the existing paradigm is not a women’s issue but a societal issue and it makes it more difficult to ignore.

 

On May 21st, Wargo French is hosting an upcoming WICT executive event about pivoting careers during times of change.  What tips can you give our readers if their job is currently at a crossroad?

 

I think that everyone, at some point, reaches a crossroads in their career. Success comes from recognizing the adversity that you run into and learning from it in a good way. I’m a huge UVA basketball fan. In last year’s NCAA tournament, UVA was the number one team, they were supposed to be the best team in the tournament. The way it works in the tournament is that the best team plays the worst team in their bracket to start out. So that happened last year and UVA lost, they lost to the worst team in the tournament, and it was the first time in the history of the NCAA tournament that a number one seed had lost the first game. But they didn’t just lose, they got solid beat by 20 points, it was humiliating. This year UVA won the National Championship. It was fascinating to watch how the team did that. They didn’t just pretend that they had not had a humiliating loss; they embraced the adversity. They decided “this is not who we are, but we also cannot ignore that it happened, so how can we learn from that, own it and go forward?” I think we all can learn lessons from that story because adversity happens.  You’re going to encounter it, so you need to learn how overcome it, get the panic gone, and just take one step forward and do the next right thing. In my view, we can take the hardships that come up and say, “I own this, what does this teach me going forward, how can I learn from this, yet keep true to what I want?”  I find that’s ultimately the hardest part, people deciding what they want. That can be tough to give anyone advice on. People have to take the time to look at themselves and say, “here’s what I have, what is it that I want out of this?” Figuring out what’s important to you. Unfortunately, in the business world, we all want to make money, but that can’t be the only thing because it’s ultimately very unfulfilling.

 

What would you say is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Many of our readers are fresh out of college, what career advice would you give your 21-year self?

 

I don’t know if this is the best advice that I’ve been given but it’s the one that I often use as a lawyer, and it’s that it’s called the Practice of Law, it’s not called the Perfect of Law. Mistakes are going to happen. Your goal should be to make no mistakes, but you can’t have that as a realistic view. You will make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. When you do, see why it happened, see what you can do to prevent it in the future, acknowledge it and then move forward. I think if you try to pretend you didn’t do it you won’t learn from it. Conversely, if you focus on your mistakes too much, you’ll be stuck there. To go back to the UVA game, there’s a quote UVA coach referenced, “if you treat adversity right it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”  I just love that reflection.

 

The WICT touchstone theme this year is Inspire and others will follow.  What characteristics do you admire in other leaders? What has worked for you in inspiring others to follow?

 

Calmness in an emergency. In litigation, which is what I do, you’re in a fight. There are always bad things happening and sometimes they’re worse than others. Being able to keep your cool, under those circumstances, is what I look for in people I’m going to follow. In turn, when the associates that work for me come in and they’re panicked about a situation, I try to stay calm about it without ignoring how serious it is.

 

This is a random thought but, someone gave me and my wife this advice for our wedding a long time ago: When you’re planning for a wedding accept that two things are going to go wrong.  When they happen, instead of panicking, you remember there were going to be things that go wrong and they did. Having that attitude when something comes up allows people to press forward.

 

One caveat is that calm can sometimes go too far, and calm can be viewed as a lack of understanding of the magnitude of the problem. That’s really the balance of a good leader, being able to stay calm and still show that I understand how serious a problem is, especially with clients.  If I call the client and I’m just completely calm just as their world is falling apart, that can also be problematic. I need to have the empathy to show I understand what they’re going through. To show I’m not just being calm because it’s not important, I’m being calm because I’m trying to get to the solution.

 

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Wargo & French LLP and WICT Southeast are partnering together May 21st in Atlanta provide executive members insights on navigating career paths when changes arise. Learn more

 

 

Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mamá.

 

 

Five Questions for Cisco’s Morgan Bondon

WICT Southeast blog writer, Ana Adler sat down with Morgan Bondon to ask him 5 burning questions and get the scoop on Cisco’s Inspire to Innovate Fellowship for WICT Southeast.

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Morgan Bondon

Where are you located: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role? 

Vice President, Sales Cable & Media, Americas Service Provider – Cisco

 

 

Why did you join WICT? What inspired you to look past the W in the name?

A couple of reasons, I have an older sister who graduated from Northwestern with a degree in Math.  She went into the “real world” and felt very intimidated in the business world because she was a woman. I was younger and didn’t have an appreciation or understanding of why she felt that way, but that really kind of inspired me to try and make a difference in that if I ever got the opportunity. Secondly, I have a 17-year-old daughter and I’ll be damned if that ever happens to her. I really feel we’re at a moment in time right now, with our generation, to truly make the permanent difference. I want to do everything, on every platform that I have, to help that cause. Also, it’s my industry and I love the people, and I don’t really see a “W” or an “M”, I’m on the board and it’s not uncomfortable for me, I enjoy it.

 

What is it that you find most rewarding about being a member?

I know it may sound cliché, but just listening. I learn a lot and, as much as I have passion around WICT, what it offers and what it can provide, it doesn’t mean that I have a true appreciation and understanding of the issues women face. I have not experienced that in my life and there is nothing I can do to change that, so I like listening and learning. Some of the stories blow me away, I don’t think that way and I can’t believe what some people do, but it’s a good uncomfortable to listen to the challenges that some of these women have had. A good uncomfortable because I’m learning the realities of what people have gone through that I just have never had to go through personally and an appreciation and it makes me a better person, a better leader, a better father a better husband, everything, it makes me better.

 

In thinking of the theme of REAL Men of WICT (Rewarding Equality and Leadership), how has membership in WICT influenced your thinking, either personally or professionally?

To get specific on it, I’m definitely more aware. There may not be a female candidate in the interviewing pool of a job, but I will make sure to have at least one on the hiring panel. I have a much better appreciation and I apply it in my thought process. When I’m talking to other male members of my team, I try to really impress upon them the importance of inclusion because, unless you’ve really taken the time to understand someone’s story, it’s hard to even put that in your mindset when you’re doing an interview. WICT has given me a different perspective and that’s a good thing.

 

Our theme this year is Inspire and others will follow. What has worked for you in inspiring others?

I’m always inspired by learning, as much as I love to talk. I have an Italian mom and talking is what we do, but I really love to listen, and the leaders that have inspired me the most are the ones I learn from, and you can’t learn if you don’t listen. I get more out of conversations with the leaders that have truly made an impression because I learn a lot from them, not just about business, but in general. The leaders I’ve gravitated to have always given me life examples, not just data, and I try to do the same. People tick differently.  If I know they love to travel, for example, I talk to them about that, I try to connect with them on a level that humanizes the interaction. I think so often now we get into this data-driven world and we forget the human element, so I try to make sure that I’m a human first and a leader second.

 

Cisco is providing an Inspire to Innovate fellowship this year. Why do you feel it is important to transform the way we think about and practice innovation? Why invest in a WICT member?

Look if we don’t innovate what are we leaving behind?  I look at what the internet provides: So many wonderful things but also so many awful things. So many people just blindly do things that the internet provides because it’s as easy as the touch of a button, but they don’t think through the consequences of that. So, innovation to me is making sure people understand what could happen but continuing to innovate to make sure we can leverage the good that technologies bring us. That’s what is really important to me. And why WICT? I mean for all the reasons I already told you, it’s a no brainer. I look at my daughter and that’s all I have to do, it’s very simple for me. Chuck Robbins our CEO has really instituted a lot of changes and a high percentage of his executive staff is female. And it’s not by “design.” If you take the time and allow yourself the right process, the right things happen naturally. And so, as a company, we’re massively focused on diversity, all kinds of diversity, not just male-female.

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Apply today for the WICT Southeast Inspire to Innovate Fellowship to attend the Fall CableLabs Innovation Boot camp that will be held Oct. 15 – 18, 2019 in Colorado. The application deadline is May 31st, 2019. Click here to find out more.

 

WICT Southeast’s Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mama.