Paving a Path For My Teams: Lessons Learned on my Journey Up the Leadership Mountain

Sponsored by GAF

Estefany Loza

Photo courtesy of GAF.

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July 12, 2024 at 11:2PM UTC

“Supporting others is the same as supporting yourself,” says Estefany Loza, a buyer at GAF. This advice shaped her view on how to grow a high-performing team that can move mountains. Successful teams are “formed first and foremost through culture and positivity,” Loza continues.

A part of creating this team and culture is acknowledging that individuals learn differently. “But once they acquire the necessary skills, it’s important to let the team make their own decisions and learn from mistakes,” explains Loza. As someone who knows the “power of positive servant-leadership” and cultural dynamics, Loza is focused on empowering and supporting her team.

But how does she manage it all? “Trust yourself, trust your team and be in tune,” shares Loza. “If you believe in something wholeheartedly, it will be easier to tackle whatever challenge is thrown your way.

For more leadership advice, how to foster growth in direct reports, and how GAF supports Loza’s own career journey, read on.

To start, what were your initial thoughts when you learned you were growing your career within GAF?

I couldn’t believe that, as a first-generation Mexican-American, I’ve been able to accomplish so much in just four years — and, now, I can support those who are looking to excel in their own careers. That’s the best part.

I took 100% of the shots I was given, and I was fortunate enough to be under very career-driven bosses. I would do it all over again, the same exact way. 

How do you approach leading and growing your team? 

“Boots on the ground and all-around” is my current strategy. We’re looking to build a team of ally champions who create a supportive environment and, above all, foster awareness of the importance of social and cultural topics within the workplace.

While building your team, what did you learn that surprised you most?

Most people are actually eager to be a part of something that is near and dear to their hearts.

What’s one management strategy you’ve used that you think has been particularly effective? 

A previous boss of mine here at GAF, always said, “teamwork makes the plan work.” The dream is easy — it’s a dream. A plan is an actual roadmap to get there. It’s important for an individual to lean on their colleagues and management for plans and strategies: “Team Leadership,” I call it. 

What’s the No. 1 thing you hope your direct reports are getting out of working with you?

Every team member, regardless of level, needs to know how powerful their voices are and the importance of showing their commitment and involvement on a tangible and measurable basis. 

How do you ensure your direct reports feel well-supported? 

Health, family and life changes come first. We have a team an individual can lean on. We make sure the team or individual has the information and confidence needed to make decisions, ability to talk to management about a situation for guidance, and a clear result. An open-door policy is important. 

What do you believe is the No. 1 thing managers must do when onboarding new employees? 

A person who’s empowered from the beginning is capable of accomplishing amazing things on their own with little to no guidance. My current manager at GAF has encouraged me, empowered me and strategically delegated in order for me and others around me to be successful. 

What has enabled you to develop/advance your career?

I’ve never shied away from a challenge, and, fortunately for me, every opportunity I was offered, I took and ran with. Management would tell me, “Go North,” and I went there at 110 MPH. They would tell me, “Go South,” and I would switch gears and roll in that direction. Take the challenge by the horns, give it all you got, be heard and you’ll be successful. 

Photo courtesy of GAF.

What’s been your most valuable career mistake?

I started off in one field and was hesitant to transition over to another. Transitioning roles is a great move. You still have room to learn and grow. It helps you become a well-rounded employee. 

If you think you’ve networked enough, you probably haven’t. A handshake can end up changing your path. 

What’s something you’re especially good at, both at work and outside of work?

At work, I’m good at teamwork; for instance, involving everyone in a conversation and getting different perspectives on a situation or problem.

Outside of work, I’m really good at prioritizing and spending time with my family.

What are you trying to improve on? 

Health is wealth. Prioritizing our health is essential for allowing us to mentally and physically propel forward at work. That’s my journey right now. 

How has GAF helped set you up for success?

GAF has entrusted me with opportunities and challenges, and management is in tune with my career progression. Being a part of an Employee Resource Group (ERG) in a leadership role has been the cherry on top. 

Could you tell us more about this ERG?

I’m part of our Employee Resource Group SALUD (Supporting All Latinos in Unity and Diversity). I am a Chairwoman for our Allyship committee, which is focused on educating GAF employees of Latino cultures and the impact it has on the business. Through this ERG, we are looking to empower allies and members of all backgrounds to connect and relate with all cultures. We also want to educate others of the resources available to them and engage all through highlighting individual merits, community service events, professional development programs, and networking opportunities. Everyone's invited to the fiesta!

Pushing myself to apply for a leadership position in this ERG is the career move I’m most proud of. It’s been fulfilling and has engaged me in my professional career more than ever!

What opportunities did GAF provide that ultimately helped you land your role?

There are opportunities to meet and present in front of management on a corporate level and senior plant level, as well as endless training opportunities. I’m also involved in problem-solving-process implementation. Plus, acknowledging the importance of different perspectives alone can be an opportunity for someone. 

What is your favorite perk about working at GAF? 

The people. The culture.

Ultimately, what has led you to stay at GAF? 

Being able to open doors, innovate and be a part of the decision-making process makes a difference.

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