Vice President of Human Resources, Curtis Instruments, Mount Kisco
Anne Papaelias likes to joke that the 42 years she’s spent at Curtis Instruments have been the longest six months of her life. That’s because after graduating from SUNY New Paltz, Papaelias, a French major, couldn’t find any teaching jobs. So she responded to an ad for a bilingual (French-English) secretary, a job she planned to hold only until she found a teaching position. Edward Marwell, president and founder of Curtis Instruments (and a bit of a Francophile), hired her on the spot. “I muddled my way through shorthand and typing,” says Papaelias. “He put up with my secretarial skills, and I put up with his French.”
But Marwell did more than put up with Papaelias. After she’d been working there for about four years, then-pregnant Papaelias told Marwell she was leaving the company to have a baby. Marwell had a different vision for her: to start a personnel department for his growing enterprise, which, at the time, had just 30 employees. The rest, well, is 42 years of history.
Now vice president of human resources for the Mount Kisco-based manufacturer of instrumentation and controls for electric vehicles, Papaelias handles everything from people management to legal compliance and employment law for Curtis, which today comprises 1,000 employees across multiple locations on three continents. “The exciting part of my job is that we’re a global company,” says Papaelias, “but we’re small enough that we can really get to know people individually.”
Throughout her 40-plus years with the company, Papaelias has helped ensure that the company recognizes those individuals, implementing employee-centric policies like monthly luncheons to celebrate work anniversaries, during which the celebrants receive an extra day’s pay. The company’s people-first approach has led to low turnover and long careers for Curtis’ employees. For proof, just look at the company’s Bulgarian location, where the managing director is celebrating 25 years with the company. Or look at the EVP of sales and marketing in the UK office who’s spent 31 years at Curtis. Says Papaelias, “What makes me most proud is having made a positive impact on the lives of the many people who work for or have worked for Curtis, many of whom I had a direct role in recruiting and hiring.”