Erica Peitler was a bit of a wonder drug for the pharmaceutical industry. “Captivated by how drugs work,” Peitler began her career as a pharmacist before transitioning to marketing and brand management roles at several pharmaceutical giants. While she seamlessly ran multimillion-dollar divisions, Peitler was especially known for her ability as a transformational change agent. She was the one to bring in when a company or division was veering off course.

It’s fitting that helping companies and employees turn things around is what she did best, since eight years ago Peitler turned that microscope on herself. She took a step back from her powerful pharmaceutical career, took a year off to detox from the corporate world and filled it with everything from a soul-searching trip to Costa Rica to an academic stint at Harvard. She came away with a sharpened focus on what she wanted her next chapter to look like. “Just like I was captivated by how drugs work, I was equally fascinated by how leadership works. I think it’s why I went into business (and not research) in the first place,” she says.

She rewrote her career plan and was certified as a leadership performance coach. It’s been eight years, but she’s never looked back once. Today, Peitler is a sought-after speaker, two-time author with a brand-new book: Leadership Rigor! Breakthrough Performance & Productivity Leading Yourself, Teams & Organizations (available through Amazon) and a leadership coach hired by Fortune 500 CEOs. “I’m so lucky to be able to do this,” she says. “It’s a very rewarding career.”

While she tailors each speech to the particular audience, expect this fiery New Jerseyan, named one of the Best 50 Women in Business by NJBIZ, to shine a light on emotional intelligence and what it takes to be a trusted advisor. “Leadership can be vague,” she says, but her talks provide tangible insights. Peitler says she is “passionate about making things practical” for her audiences.

Retreats and off-site meetings present wonderful opportunities for groups to collaborate, strategize and build relationships away from their normal office environments. With proper planning, these sessions can be highly effective and even pivotal in setting a new direction. However, off-sites may present some unforeseen challenges that can quickly deflate the energy in the room if not anticipated and addressed in advance.


A lifelon New Yorker, Emily Schmalholz was a TV producer at VH1 before moving into the events industry and landing at Westchester’s The Capitol Theatre. As director of special events at the historic space and its bar, Garcia’s, she says creating events and working in television have lots in common. “The ultimate goal for both is to tell a great story and create memorable moments.” Schmalholz, a self-described “event therapist,” had more to say about her work.

What’s the biggest difference between producing for television and producing events?


From Baltimore to Boston to brainstorming, Ralph Weaver has never been one to say “no” to trying something new. After studying communications and marketing at Boston University, the Baltimore native made his way to New York City where he worked with a public relations agency, allowing him to dip his toes in the world of event planning.  

And he hasn’t looked back since.