Sweating the Details

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Most people scream when they jump off the roof of a building—even tethered to a zip line. Not Shelley McNulty. The building was the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. A group from Pagliacci had gone on a work retreat to the annual Pizza Expo. The stratospheric leap is described as a “heart-pounding, scream-inducing, open-air leap from 855 feet above the neon Strip.” And, yes, GoPro video of the dive still exists. 

“Shelley’s demeanor was smooth and mellow, like she was out for a Sunday stroll,” says Jeff Woodruff, Pagliacci’s Vice President of Operations. Everyone else screamed their head off.  

Making excellent pizza day in and day out at 25 locations around the Seattle area and coordinating the best team of pizza delivery drivers in Puget Sound requires mastering a dizzying array of logistics. That calls for someone who can stay calm and focused under pressure. “We are successful at Pagliacci because we sweat the details,” says Jeff. “And no one does that better than Shelley.” 

Hired initially as a marketing assistant in 1999, Shelley has since been involved in nearly every element of Pagliacci’s operations over the last 20 years. Her desk sits in the middle of the office, surrounded by operations, accounting and marketing—like the hub of a wheel. Her experience allows her to see the big picture and calculate how best to achieve end goals. 

“It’s often said that Shelley is the one that truly runs our company,” says Matt Galvin, co-owner of Pagliacci. “However, she does a lot more than that. She is the standard-bearer for the right way to do things, the right way to tackle a project, the right way to collaborate with co-workers, the right way to complete her work.” 

The famously hard-working Dorene Centioli McTigue, Pagliacci’s founder, interviewed, hired and trained Shelley. The work ethic rubbed off. Shelley says, “We had similar work styles and ethics, and that is why we meshed well together.” 

Shelley’s biggest concern in her first year was that she would eventually get bored with the job. Then Dorene sold Pagliacci to Matt Galvin and Pat McDonald and a period of unprecedented growth began. “When you do something well, more things come at you,” Shelley says with a laugh. 

Managing a myriad of pressing details from three departments, weekly meetings, and the needs of 25 locations is a juggling act. Shelley employs many strategies—reminders, task lists, project management software—but most effective is her ability to stay calm and focused under pressure. “I shut out the noise and focus on one task at a time.“ 

John Clifford, Senior Director of Training and Development, says, “Her ability to keep everyone, and by extension, the company, on track is remarkable. She makes all of our jobs easier while making us all look better at the same time.” 

So how does someone with so many varied responsibilities relax? Reading, hiking, biking, spending time with her long-time partner and his 11-year-old twin boys, and—inspired by her Stratosphere experience—skydiving.