December 21, 2023

Throughout the year we highlight unique relationships among our professionals. From building great professional relationships to long lasting friendships, these stories speak for themselves. Get to know Criss Paccione-Anderson and Monika Ciesielska from Epstein's Corporate Services/Human Resources group.

Criss Paccione-Anderson, director of corporate Services and senior vice president, has been an integral part of Epstein for 23 years. She is among the most recognized faces at Epstein from the interview process to all-company meetings and company outings. She started her career in Human Resources and has since earned the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Criss is presently chairperson of the ACE Mentor Board of Directors, and a member of the Epstein Community Foundation (ECF).

Monika Ciesielska is an HR generalist and payroll manager for Epstein and has been with the company for nearly 10 years. Her career at Epstein began shouldering administrative responsibilities before becoming involved in recruitment, employee relations and benefits, and processing payroll (Monika has been involved in building two different payroll systems from scratch). She is part of Epstein's DE&I Committee, enjoys being involved with the ECF and facilitates our annual internship program.

“I believe human resources is for the people and the company. I enjoy the psychological aspect of it, being there for the employees while balancing it out with the best interest of the company. I take pride in every situation when an employee trusts me enough to seek my help, to confide in me... At the same time – understanding the business side and actually processing payroll lets me ground myself in a more steady and predictable part of my job.”

What is your biggest takeaway from this relationship?

Monika: Becoming a true HR professional under Criss’ leadership. I have gained a broad knowledge of HR functions, from hiring through onboarding to employee benefits and engagement, and processing payroll. I’ve also gained great exposure and opportunities for involvement with different areas and levels of the organization.

What did you gain from being a mentor/mentee?

Criss: I learn new things from Monika all the time. She takes her position very seriously and is constantly researching HR-related topics.

Monika: I became a confident, knowledgeable and skilled HR professional. I have learned to not be afraid to question the reality or processes and learn from my own mistakes, own them and keep growing.

What is your favorite part about being a Mentor/Mentee?

Criss: Definitely watching people grow and succeed in their role.

Monika: I love challenges but sometimes need reassurance and encouragement. Criss lets me explore my potential and growth, especially outside of my comfort zone, and guides me through the process.

What are your secrets for a successful Mentor/Mentee relationship?

Criss: I think trust between two people is the most important things in any relationship.

Monika: It has to be based on trust, honesty and respect; a balance between inspiration, learning and accountability. Constructive guidance and feedback can sometimes be hard to accept but it actually allows career growth. I am lucky to have that honest professional and interpersonal relationship with Criss.

Something I appreciate about my Mentor/Mentee…

Criss: Monika ALWAYS wants to do her best. She is an extensive researcher. She also always comes with a solution and not just a problem.

Monika: I respect Criss’ determination, work and commitment in establishing her own successful career, and establishing and running the ECF. Criss always believes in me – sometimes more than I do myself. She encourages me, sees the potential and ability within me and then helps me bring it out. She also inspires me to do more to improve the world around us by example. I find comfort that I can be honest with her and she will guide me, help me when I need it, or let me take on a leadership role. I will always be grateful for Criss’ support across the board; on both personal and professional levels.

How do you power through when you are frustrated with each other?

Criss: We take a breath, tell each other about our frustrations and always find a way through.