• Alumni Spotlight Archive


    Jim Renella
      Jim Renella

    Triton College Launched Lifelong Career in Printing Industry for Alum

    Alumnus Jim Renella credits Triton College for laying the foundation for a successful 35-year career in the printing industry. After graduating from Triton College in 1980 with a certificate in Photo Offset, Renella pursued a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration degree at Dominican University. He has held various positions in the printing industry throughout his career including Pre-Press Supervisor, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President/General Manager of Critical Communications.

    In his current role of Senior Vice President for Quality Operations at Diamond Marketing Solutions, Renella is responsible for total quality management and employee education for all of Diamond Marketing Solutions’ facilities. He is a member of various professional organizations in his industry and has been recognized for his many contributions to the field.

    What have been some obstacles you’ve had to overcome in pursuit of your educational and career goals?
    The first time I attended Triton College was in the fall of 1975 as a major in Business Administration. Like most young people I was challenged with what I really wanted to pursue as a life career. I changed majors in the fall of 1976 to Photo Offset. After that semester I left Triton College and decided to work full time at the printing company where I had worked part time.

    The printing company was less than million dollars in revenue and growing at that time. In 1978, I was promoted to the Prepress Supervisor and was responsible for a team of 5 employees. I realized immediately that I needed to have leadership skills, be knowledgeable, and needed to make a difference with my subordinates to have a chance at being successful. So I decided to return to Triton College in January of 1979 and register for the spring semester for classes and pursue my certificate degree in Photo Offset to gain the knowledge and tools to be an effective supervisor.

    All of the college classes I attended were exclusively at night because I worked full time during the day. My educational journey was over nine years attending night classes all year long. Attending classes at night was a challenge because of my responsibilities would increase as I was promoted to senior management roles. As I look back on my career and educational journey I believe the key was short term goals I established for myself.

    I ended up working for that printing company for 29 years which would grow to a $50 million organization. When I left in 2003, I was the Chief Operating Officer.

    What have been some sources of inspiration both in your career and in your life?
    Surrounding myself with knowledgeable people has been my inspiration. There have been many mentors in my career and life that have encouraged me during my career path. I was very fortunate to work for an entrepreneur for 23 years who believed in people and education. I learned firsthand what it meant to make a difference with people from him. My life lesson learned was people are truly the life blood of any organization.

    What would you describe as your strong suit?
    There are three principles that have guided my career. They are leadership, be knowledgeable about the subject matter and be trustworthy. As a leader your strongest asset is your people. Making a difference and communicating with them has been my number one goal throughout my career. I have always believed that being knowledgeable about the subject matter of the business was a given for a manager at any level. The key to this principle for me was my ability to teach, mentor and share that knowledge with my teams to grow as well as the business. The last principle has been to be trustworthy. My word needed to mean something to my management staff and employees. I always wanted for them to have a sense of comfort that the business was being professionally managed and they could concentrate 100% on their performance rather than the state of the organization. Additionally, I have always reinforced this statement with them, “We’re in this together.”

    How has Triton College impacted your life?
    Triton College prepared me with a solid educational foundation for my professional career. The instructors I had for classes were more than just teachers they were mentors that took the time and interest in my career path and offered me valuable guidance. Today, embracing technology is a way of life and a large part of one’s career. The industry I have worked in for more than 35 years has been impacted by technology in the last 20 years and ironically the same fundamental principles I was taught at Triton still hold true with this new digital technology.

    What advice would you give someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
    Nowadays I believe when the subject of the printing industry is discussed it’s in terms of the past tense. The traditional printing business has transitioned to digital technology with many new career opportunities. It’s no longer just ink on paper. Today it’s all about the data. These new digital technologies have opened up opportunities for IT programmers, marketing executives, project management positions, document designers, digital marketers and many more. Direct marketing companies, the financial industry and advertising agencies are just a few of the vertical markets where these opportunities reside.

    What are your words of wisdom for current Triton students?
    Patience is a virtue when you’re determining your career path. Don’t panic if you don’t exactly know what your career path is when you start your college education. Establish reasonable goals for yourself. The educational process is contagious. Your dreams become a reality once you know your career path and establish your goals.

    What are your plans for the future?
    I have truly enjoyed the career opportunities, the people and the business I have been in for over 35 years. I don’t believe I will ever retire from actually working. Making a difference with people is still a large part of what I do on a daily basis. It’s very rewarding to watch an individual grow while you’re mentoring them. With that said I am considering teaching at the undergraduate level or at the graduate level in the near future.

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