Company: National Companies
Title: Director of Strategy and Innovation
Years on Job: 12
For some people it may take years to discover their passion and figure out how to make that passion into a career. For me, I was literally born to work in Industrial Equipment. My grandfather founded our company in 1957. Since then, multiple generations of my family have worked in the industry. I started working for National Lift Truck when I was 11 years old in 1996. I worked over the summer, after school had ended, and started what would later become my career path in a shop utility role, mopping, painting poles yellow and steam cleaning. When I was kid, I saw myself as an astronaut or an engineer. I didn’t anticipate that I would make Industrial Equipment my livelihood. But 12 years later, I’m still here and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I started from the bottom and worked my way up from the ground floor, moving around to different departments and really learning every facet of the business.
A huge part of my job is organization and documenting. Too often, I see individuals working really hard all day who don’t document and measure what they’re doing. This makes it virtually impossible for them to differentiate themselves with a quantifiable business case for the future. I document everything so that I can figure out what’s working and what’s not and be able to point to the solid evidence when it’s time to improve. What many companies don’t realize is that, as a hard assets-based business, it’s not necessarily about how much you can sell or rent, it’s about how much you can measure.
Bridging The Generational Gap
Generational diversity is one of the biggest challenges I face day-to-day. As technology and equipment commoditization evolve, we need to constantly keep abreast of new, innovative ways to do business and monetize the industry. As the rate of change on these things increases, it’s sometimes difficult to communicate the value of technology to workers who may be set in their ways. And if an employee won’t embrace the more efficient innovations, it makes them less valuable to the company.
Prior to working in this role, I never would have pictured myself as an educator. But leadership and coaching is a large part of my job and professional development is something that I’m very passionate about. Without great leadership, employees can’t effectively follow. Once direction and expectations are effectively defined, employees need continual coaching to ensure that they’re on the track to success. A failure to achieve corporate and organizational goals can be tied directly to ambiguous direction and expectations as well as a lack of coaching.
I honestly believe that if I hadn’t focused on and built a professional network early in my career, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. Every opportunity I’ve ever had was a direct result of networking. Professional social media channels such as LinkedIn and even Twitter have been instrumental to mu success. At the end of the day, business is about people and solving challenges with a solution or product. Having a growing network of people and organizations that can add value to you personally and professionally is priceless.