Bauer Alum Margo Costello was a recipient of the HBJ Most Admired CEO Awards. She is President and CEO of Riverway Business Services Inc.
The Q&A can be found below
What was the biggest lesson you
learned about yourself during the
pandemic and how did that affect
your leadership style? It took about
two days after labeling Covid a
“pandemic” to really crystallize how
dramatically differently people handle
unprecedented stress. I’d always
known this deep down, but never
seen it so prominently displayed.
While some of our team took the
situation as “par for the course”
of life, others found themselves
panicked and fearful, and yet others
found themselves saddened and
overwhelmed. I fell somewhere in
the middle of all of these — it was a
rollercoaster of emotion. As a leader,
my job shifted to both acknowledge
and provide the solid ground from
which to navigate those emotions by
setting a clear, strategic plan. The
pandemic ended up being the biggest
trial of my ability to align the team
quickly — and it certainly required a
shift in my approach.
What changes made during the
pandemic do you intend to keep?
We saw a dramatic rise in the leadership
capabilities of some of my colleagues,
which gave us the space to rethink
our company structure and push more
leadership responsibility to those
closest to the work. Our plan is to
continue this natural progression, and
actively seek opportunities for leaders in
the company to truly step up and shine.
What has surprised you the most
since becoming a top executive?
When I started my company, it was just
me, a typewriter I had bought from a
local thrift store, and a phone book.
However, as my business began to
thrive and grow, and I began hiring
employees to help take over the
workload, there was a massive shift.
I was no longer responsible only for
my success, but for the success and
careers of other people who believed in
what I was doing enough to join me. I
never would have imagined the gravity
of that responsibility, but it was certainly