January 2024 AZ TechCast | Navigating Leadership: Insights from Industry Pros

This dynamic podcast interview, hosted by Karen Nowicki and Steven Zylstra, featured esteemed guests Victor Assad from Strategic HR Consulting; Carol Stewart from Tech Parks Arizona and Art Taylor from PayPal. These leaders engaged in a comprehensive exploration of effective leadership in the rap...

January 2024 AZ TechCast | Navigating Leadership: Insights from Industry Pros

Episode Overview

Subscribe to AZ TechCast today so you never miss an episode.

Our first AZ TechCast episode of 2024 featured a dynamic interview hosted by Karen Nowicki and Steven Zylstra. Esteemed guests included Victor Assad from Strategic HR Consulting; Carol Stewart from Tech Parks Arizona and Art Taylor from PayPal. These experts engaged in a comprehensive exploration of effective leadership in the rapidly evolving tech landscape. The conversation began with introductions by the guests, who shared insights into their respective roles and organizations. They discussed the challenges faced by leaders today, including navigating remote work arrangements, adapting to changing regulatory landscapes, and maintaining strong organizational cultures amidst hybrid work setups. Victor emphasized the importance of aligning executive expectations with employee concerns, while Art stressed the need for ethics-based compliance programs. Carol highlighted the struggle of preserving a strong organizational culture in remote settings, focusing on creating inclusive environments and fostering connections among employees.

Transitioning to essential attributes for effective leadership and team development, the discussion continued with Art underlining the importance of openness to new approaches and creating a culture of trust. Victor emphasized transparency and flexibility, while Carol added courage and empowerment to the mix. They explored the value of stretch goals, OKRs, and mission equity in driving employee engagement and collaboration.

The conversation concluded with insights into the multifaceted nature of leadership, highlighting the significance of diversity, mentorship, and continuous growth in leadership roles, encapsulating a holistic understanding of effective leadership in today’s tech-driven world.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic HR Consulting and Managing Partner of InnovationOne, LLC. He works with companies to transform HR, conduct executive and technical searches, implement hybrid work, and improve leaders, teams, and cultures of innovation. Victor is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: The Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. He publishes a weekly blog and is quoted in journals such as The Wall Street Journal, Workforce Management, Human Resources Executive, and CEO Magazine. He publishes weekly blogs.
Victor has led human resources in strategic business units at Honeywell and Medtronic’s fast-growth, high-technology businesses. He has led HR globally from Mumbai to Milano. Victor has significantly improved HR and recruiting at business units of Honeywell and Medtronic and in his consulting, often cutting recruiting cycle time in half, improving diversity representation, and cutting costs per hire. He has pioneered remote and hybrid work, improved performance management and compensation, built learning organizations, managed benefits, and developed great cultures, leaders, and teams. He has worked in various industries with large and small employers, including medical devices, health care, semiconductors, high tech, real estate, retail, and with government agencies, such as the US Department of Energy, to name a few. Victor holds a Master of Arts Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He has executive leadership 3 certifications from Harvard and Kellogg. He and his wife live in Scottsdale, AZ.

Carol Stewart, a long-standing authority on research parks, is the Vice President for Tech Parks Arizona at the University of Arizona. Carol Stewart leads the UA Tech Park at Rita Road and is developing the UA Tech Park at The Bridges. She is also president of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI), a technology business incubator network serving the University of Arizona, Tucson and international community. Stewart’s expertise in university research parks spans decades and nations with more than 20 years of experience working with research parks, technology commercialization, business incubation, governmental relations and business development. As a pioneer in the research parks world, she has driven national policy, standardized programs, created national and international networks, built technology clusters, engaged stakeholders, and assisted countries with the development of their national science and technology policies. Stewart is passionate about her community and serves as a champion in university-based economic development. She is a member of Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Flinn Foundation Steering Committee, a member of the Canadian Global Mentor Program and she also serves on the Board of Directors for Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, Pima County’s Workforce Investment Board, Arizona Technology Council, Desert Angels, and is the Vice President on the national University Economic Development Association (UEDA) board, and a member of the North American CEO Council for Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). She also serves as the North American Division President for the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP). IASP is the worldwide network of science parks and areas of innovation. IASP has nearly four hundred members in 74 countries. Previously, Stewart served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), which represents 170 research parks in North America. She collaborates with numerous leaders world-wide to build and grow university-related research parks through education, unification, and collaboration. She helps to expand and advance the impact of research parks and areas of innovation by showcasing best practices across the globe. Her proven success record also includes co-founding the Canadian chapter of the Association of University Research Parks, founding director of the David Johnston Research + Technology Park at the University of Waterloo spearheading the development of the park, advancing the park to over the one-million-square-foot milestone, leading the marketing efforts and launching the professional services division of Maplesoft, a global spin-off company from the University of Waterloo, and enhancing the entrepreneurial culture of Canada at the Canadian Industrial Innovation Centre (CIIC).

Art Taylor serves as a vice president within PayPal’s Global Compliance Investigations division. In this capacity, Taylor leads a team of industry experts in charge of risk and compliance investigations in North America, ensuring PayPal fulfills its commitment to combat money laundering, terrorism financing and other related financial crimes. Taylor’s team is primarily concentrated in two main hubs — Phoenix and Omaha, Nebraska — and encompasses approximately 400 talented subject matter experts. Taylor brings over 10 years of financial crime risk management and operations experience to PayPal. Prior to joining the PayPal team in 2016, Taylor worked for American Express and Bank of America serving in a variety of compliance and operations leadership roles. Over the last decade, Taylor has led global teams and developed organizational processes in the financial and compliance industries In 2015, Taylor earned the designation of Certified Advanced Financial Crimes Investigations Specialist (CAMS-CFI). Taylor earned his master’s degree in global business management from the University of Phoenix, and a bachelor’s degree in international business from Menlo College.

Victor Assad
Assad Strategic
HR Consulting

Carol Stewart
Tech Parks Arizona
University of Arizona

Art Taylor



About AZTechCast
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/techcast to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.

About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.


Register for the Council’s upcoming Phoenix and Tucson tech events and Optics Valley optics + photonics events.