Encouraging People to Do Their Best

Retired from a long and fulfilling career at PSE&G, Peter Cistaro recently enjoyed a trip to the Grand Canyon with his wife, Mary Ann.

Reflecting on his four decades with PSE&G, Peter Cistaro says that his greatest satisfaction as a manager was helping people use their talents to the fullest.

This focus even factored into Cistaro’s decision to major in industrial engineering at NCE after graduating from Thomas Jefferson] High School in Elizabeth.

“I felt that industrial engineering was a good balance between learning about technology and developing management skills,” Cistaro says. “At the time, it was the best option for someone like me.” And of his NCE experience, he does not hesitate to say that some of his professors were “awe inspiring.”

Wanting to remain in his home state after graduation, Cistaro accepted a job with PSE&G and started on the career from which he would retire in 2007 as a vice president. His first assignment was assisting a district manager, a post he later held himself. Over the years, he moved on to positions of increasing responsibility in labor relations, marketing, quality assurance, and customer service.

Sharing his thoughts on management, Cistaro cites the concept of “servant leadership.” He explains that a good manager is someone who helps people do their jobs better by encouraging them, by providing the right tools, and by working to put the necessary processes in place. “It’s very different from management through fear, pounding on the table and expecting to get the best from people.”

Cistaro urges students today to take a broad range of courses, and to develop the interpersonal skills that lead to success in the workplace. Technical knowledge is vital, he says, but also learn from the humanities.

“Learning to work effectively with the many different personalities one will meet in life is very important. Join a club, a sports team. It will help you develop the ability to meet challenges creatively as part of an organization. You will always be part of an organization, a member of some team.”

Cistaro has long made it a priority to help the young men and women who followed him at NJIT. In addition to sponsoring the Cistaro Family Scholarship, he has generously contributed time as a member of the Leadership Circle Council and the NCE Board of Visitors, which he chaired for several years. A member of the Board of Trustees since 2002, he chairs the board’s Advancement Committee.

Shortly before retirement, Cistaro made another commitment to what he holds especially valuable in life. Heeding the suggestion of his pastor at Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Parsippany, he began five years of study to become a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. Ordained in 2009, Cistaro assists at Mass, administers some sacraments, and ministers to patients in hospitals and residents of nursing homes. “It’s about people,” he says. “That’s the heart of what I am.”