A Conversation with Frank Zimone, Society of Vacuum Coaters

The Society of Vacuum Coaters named Frank Zimone as its executive director earlier this year, but he is no stranger to the organization, having previously served in other roles with the organization and as president of Jenoptik Defense.
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The Society of Vacuum Coaters named Frank Zimone as its executive director earlier this year, but he is no stranger to the organization, having previously served in other roles. He also was president of Jenoptik Defense, which made handheld observation and target-location applications requiring day and night capabilities. We caught up with Frank recently to talk about his recent career move.

PF: Why did you accept the executive director’s position?
FZ: It was an opportunity to do something truly important for a group of people I admire and respect.

PF: How does the SVC plan to grow use of the technology?
FZ: By providing a friendly forum for technology experts to present their developments, skills, products and services across a wide range of subject-matter areas to an audience of eager practitioners in the art/science/black magic.

PF: Where do you see this technology in 10 years?
FZ: The coatings will become more sophisticated with ever-increasing functionality that will enable and power the applications that haven’t even been conceived yet.

PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given?
FZ: My father told me that the three most powerful words in any language are please and thank you.

PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
FZ: Right out of grad school, I was a research associate for DuPont. I learned how to put my father’s advice into practice.

PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?
FZ: A beat-up 1970 Ford Pinto was my first car. My dream car is an Audi R8.

PF: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?
FZ: A sense of urgency and competitiveness from my dad, tempered by empathy that I learned from my mom.

PF: Favorite place you’ve ever lived?
FZ: South Philadelphia, an urban area with a sense of community unmatched anywhere I’ve ever been.

PF: What organization do you most admire?
FZ: NASA. No better mission anywhere.

PF: If you could trade jobs with anyone, who would it be?
FZ: The President of the U.S. I know I could do a better job.

PF: Best way to keep a competitive edge?
FZ: Read. A lot. And then read some more.

PF: How do you motivate people?
FZ: Inspire them by leading from the front and never blame them for a mistake that, in reality, represents a conscious decision to actually do something.

PF: How do you motivate yourself?
FZ: By recognizing I am fortunate to be able to do what I want to do, a choice many people don’t have.

PF: Three greatest passions?
FZ: My kids, my community and my kids.

PF: Most unique office décor?
FZ: Voodoo doll.

PF: Best business decision?
FZ: Taking a job to run a defense company where I had zero experience, a wonderful experiment to get myself out of my comfort zone that in the end turned out to be a huge success.

PF: Worst business decision?
FZ: To promote someone over the counsel of a trusted advisor. 

PF: Biggest management myth?
FZ: That you have to be cruel and self-centered to succeed.

PF: What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?
FZ: Be bolder, go longer and never play it safe.

PF: Word that best describes you?
FZ: Integrity.