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Executives Who Show How It Gets Done

Executives Who Show How It Gets Done

Sep 21, 2017 | Staff

In this year’s Hearst Top Workplaces survey, three executives earned top marks from their employees in terms of their leadership. Brenda Maher was the highest-rated among large companies; Family and Children Agency’s Rob Kashel led the midsize category and OperationsInc’s David Lewis earned the top mark among those heading up small companies.
Working their way up the corporate and nonprofit ladder, each executive has climbed their way to the top in his or her own unique way. Here’s what they said about their experiences:

Brenda Maher — Berkshire Hathaway

Maher serves as the regional vice president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties in the Fairfield, Hartford and Westchester, N.Y., county markets.
Joining the Berkshire Hathaway team in 2010, Maher oversees the overall sales operations of 28 branch offices within her region.
“My goal is to coach and mentor leaders and try to help them increase productivity and increase their sales,” Maher said.
With over 28 years of real estate experience, Maher has held executive positions including regional vice president, and vice president of sales in Greenwich, Darien and Scarsdale, N.Y.

Before joining Berkshire, Maher owned and operated her own brokerage firm in Greenwich for over a decade.
“I’ve worked with plenty of different companies, including my own, and handled everything in the industry with the exception of mortgages,” Maher said. “I have always admired Candace Adams, our CEO. She had been interested in me joining the company for years. And now, I can’t look back. I am so happy to have made the change.”

Being an entrepreneur, she said, has always been part of her DNA.
“I have always been very entrepreneurial,” Maher said. “Everyone who’s in this business is entrepreneurial; all agents have their own businesses under their brand. And, you couldn’t ask for a better name than Berkshire Hathaway to be under. The name resonates with financial stability, strength and complete respect.”


Rob Cashel — Family and Children’s Agency

Cashel entered the nonprofit world decades ago. Actually, he might say his introduction to the field happened well before he completed his master’s in clinical social work.
His first job as a kid was to oversee a playground in Armstrong Court in Greenwich.
“The playground was situated in a low income housing development within the community and I supervised programs and activities on both a part-time and full-time basis which really is at the roots of what I do now,” Cashel said.

Before Family and Children’s Agency, Cashel began his career some 34 years ago as a clinician at Family Centers. Over the years, Cashel said he became involved in management, including as director of Employee Assistance Programs at Family Centers.
He also spent a few years working at Exxon Office Systems in Teacher’s Insurance. He said spending time in the corporate world put him in position for a career in management down the line.

Cashel came from a family of social workers. His mother, father, uncle and stepmother were all social workers themselves.
“I didn’t come to the field as a blank slate. I had a lot of influence from family,” Cashel said.
As a CEO, Cashel said he continually keeps an open door, actively engaging with each employee.
“While I may be the CEO, my style and approach as a CEO is extremely team oriented and I hope the people who work here feel they have strong accessibility to senior management,” he said. “ You have to have a clear commitment and a clear focus to your organization, but if you don’t have the people committed in that way and capable of delivering what they need to deliver — then what good is the CEO”


David Lewis — OperationsInc

For OperationsInc President and CEO David Lewis, running a human resources powerhouse was a serendipitous career move.
“OperationsInc we started 16 years ago and I had at that point a 15 year career already in Human Resources as well as in executive leadership and so really at the time I was looking for a full as a COO or a senior operations,” he said. “A local firm brought me in for an interview for a consulting opportunity that I had not considered as an option. But at the time I needed to pay the mortgage and I thought, well, I might as well pursue this consulting thing while looking for full time work and (this) sparked the idea of looking for other companies out there.”

Lewis also serves as the president and CEO of, the Northeast’s largest regional job board network, including three covering all of Connecticut.

When he’s not working in HR outsourcing, Lewis spearheads The CEO Roundtable, a Fairfield County-based business and networking group, and The HR Roundtable, a networking and educational group for HR professionals with chapters in New York City and Connecticut.
So what lessons has he learned since his newspaper boy days

“I have learned more from the failures than the successes. I have learned that every business regardless how successful it looks like from the outside has its issues and there’s always an opportunity to improve,” he said.


By Makayla Silva Published 12:00 am, Thursday, September 21, 2017 Hearst Connecticut Media The Hour