Human Resources Manager,
Dakota Supply Group
By Joe Nowlan
Megan Dragert didn’t enter the electrical industry in the usual way. She had no electrical training, and she didn’t start in the warehouse.
Dragert was working in human resources for a grocery chain in Wisconsin. She knew W.A. Roosevelt owner Todd Eber from serving on a board of directors with him.
“I really hadn’t thought about getting a job in the electrical industry,” she explained. “He made me aware of the opportunities. So I decided to apply. I always say I didn’t know I was looking until I did.”
When she joined the company it was still W.A. Roosevelt. Virtually the same week she joined, however, it was acquired by Dakota Supply Group.
“I knew about the acquisition prior to accepting the position,” Dragert said. “It was a great opportunity to work with that group in Wisconsin and really understand their culture and what it was like for them to be acquired while also assimilating to Dakota Supply Group and understanding their way of doing things.”
In that role, Dragert was asked to help explain the acquisition and its impact.
“There was some handholding,” she explained. “Anytime there is a change that impacts people so much, you do have to reassure them a little more.”
Dragert admits that people will sometimes hear the phrase “human resources,” and conjure an all-too-easy image of that title.
“I think that’s pretty commonplace to say that in HR we are just a bunch of paper pushers or we only enforce policy. It is such a more strategic role that is evolving as part of our company culture and within our industry,” she explained.
Dragert has displayed the same eagerness to learn that many of her colleagues in the industry do. She enrolled in various selling courses—Sell Like Hell; Bottom Line Basics—even though she was not in a specific sales position.
“I went out [on sales calls]…to really understand the different roles and the customers that we have,” Dragert said. “It is helpful for me when I am recruiting and interviewing because I’ve assessed the best players that we have on our team and now look for those traits.”
It is also an asset when interviewing potential employees and she has to sell them on the industry. It is gratifying, Dragert said, when prospective employees fully realize what the electrical industry is about and what it can offer.
“One of the best parts of my job is when you realize that we have found a match and they understand the opportunities. Then they are excited about it. That’s the great part, when you realize that it has clicked in their mind,” Dragert explained.
Dragert grew up in central Wisconsin in the small town of Granton. Her hobbies include running and cooking.
In addition to her work responsibilities, when interviewed for this article she was planning her wedding (which was celebrated in late September). But no “bridezilla” stories here.
“We’re going to have a very low-key and relaxed wedding,” she said. “Our motto has been, ‘Keep it simple. No stress!’ It should just be fun and a celebration with our friends and families.”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. My advice would be that we are in such a unique time in the workforce with different generations working together. I think as young professionals we should learn to appreciate the insight, knowledge and experience of those who are close to retirement—and the value that they have. I know that it can be a challenge sometimes with our different approaches and styles but it is really important that we appreciate the advice that they can give us.
Q. What is your biggest workplace pet peeve?
A. I guess my biggest workplace pet peeve would be… if an employee doesn’t take ownership. [For example], if you want to bring up an issue to a supervisor or to me or to whoever it is—that’s great. We love to get feedback. But also try coming to us with a solution. That would be an opportunity for you. You had this idea that something should change. So, now how would you suggest to change it? How can you help?
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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