Paving the Way—Brian McNulty’s Journey Through Leadership

When the first class of Leadership Venango met, most participants knew little about each other or their classmates’ roles at work. Over the first few months, they chatted over lunch and got to know each other better when meeting for team projects.

The fourth session titled “Clean Communications” was held at the PennDOT offices in Oil City. To the surprise of the class, Brian McNulty, a humble, non assuming young man, was introduced as the Assistant District Executive for the Design Unit of PennDOT Engineering District 1-0 in Oil City, with oversight of a $130 million dollar budget and 97 employees.

Brian was promoted to District Executive for the northwestern region of PennDOT in June of 2020. His responsibilities increased dramatically, both in budget and in number of employees.

One might wonder why someone already in a position of leadership would commit the time and financial investment to participate in Leadership Venango, the Chamber’s nine month program designed to identify, educate, involve and motivate individuals who desire to become more effective leaders.

 “PennDOT recognizes the importance of leadership training and this local program fits the bill,” Brian said. “It introduced me to more of the community, local leadership, and the opportunity to network with others on the leadership journey.”

When asked about the highlights of Leadership Venango, Brian shares that he frequently recalls the advice of Brian Durniok, President of UPMC, to “trust your people” and also to watch for those who try to delegate problems up the chain of leadership. He also found the exercise of learning more about his own personality type and how to use this in leading others, to be very helpful. Brian also cites the introduction to Simon Sinek’s TED talk and book Start With Why as a tool he has used when being interviewed, and one that he’ll use in the future when communicating with customers, employees and partners.

“Over the years, Brian has proven himself as a leader within PennDOT at the district and statewide levels,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “In his work as a planner for the department, he built a reputation as an excellent communicator with strong customer service skills. PennDOT will benefit from those attributes, as well as his focus on continuous improvement and increased efficiencies throughout the agency.”

It is hard to imagine a more challenging time to step into a new leadership role. Many PennDOT employees, including Brian, have been teleworking since March. The transition was rather smooth by Brian and his team because of advance planning.

“While our emergency plan may not specifically address a pandemic, it supports a commitment to be nimble, efficient and responsive to individual employees’ needs,” Brian said. “We have the technology in place, that allows us to have many employees successfully work from home.”

When asked about his vision, Brian supports the PennDOT values to care about customers and do what’s best to keep the most people safe. He adds: “Success will mean every single employee will feel fulfilled, proud of their work, and part of the team.”

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s August 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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