31 (30 at time of nomination)
Area sales manager, Eaton
By Joe Nowlan
Each year the University of Nebraska-Kearney has a career fair full of companies trying to recruit students from its Industrial Distribution program. It’s a competitive program, so Melissa Bucher knew she wanted to be prepared to obtain a job after graduation.
“When you have these companies coming in you do your homework on them and learn about their industry,” she explained. “We had manufacturers like GE, Siemens, and Eaton, as well as electrical distributors and other companies outside the electrical industry, come to our school to recruit.”
But while growing up in Nebraska, Bucher had already been doing informal research for much of her life.
“My grandfather was an electrician and had his own business. My uncles on my mother’s side were all electricians as well,” Bucher said. “Growing up, I had exposure to the industry through them.”
Bucher was hired by Eaton as an intern in 2007, and has taken multiple roles with increasing responsibility living in Colorado, Ohio and West Virginia.
“The industry has changed from when I first started in 2007,” Bucher explained. “Our products continue to advance. How we market and the connectivity we have with our customers is all evolving.”
Bucher has mentored many early talents over the years and currently is the area sales manager for West Virgnia, managing a team of six.
“I love investing in my team and watching them grow. I learn as much from my team and mentees as they do from me,” she said. “Our industry and company has a lot of talent that is 5-10 years from retirement with a lot of knowledge. It’s critical that we transfer that knowledge as best as we can. One of the best ways is through mentoring.”
Bucher is also a big believer in personal development. She obtained her MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute in 2012.
“My dad would always say, ‘If you’re not learning something new every day, you’re not paying attention,'” Bucher shared.
Bucher spends an hour each night reading business books or magazines or listening to podcasts to continue her learning.
When Bucher isn’t reading business books, she’s reading books about trains and cars to her two-year-old son, Jackson. She and husband, Ryan, are expecting their second child, a daughter, in January.
While working for Eaton in Ohio, Bucher and her husband opened a CrossFit gym there. Bucher was only able to coach a few times a week and some weekends, but enjoyed getting off work and being at the gym with her husband.
“I loved the opportunity to coach when I could and spend the time with my husband,” she said. “It was very fulfilling for both of us to see the impact we have made on other’s lives.”
The Buchers saw the work and effort that gym members put in and the rewards that followed. These same lessons from the gym transfer over to Bucher’s current role at Eaton.
“Being a coach and leader at our CrossFit gym helped me be successful in my current role because people respond to different types of coaching,” she said. “I love helping people be their best. It’s one of my favorite parts on my job.”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Always be learning. Learn from your coworkers, your teammates, your manager and other people in the industry and outside of it. Continue to learn and make yourself better. When you’re better, the people around you will be better. I’d also say challenge yourself. One of the things I like to do is to ask my team, “How good can we be?” Or “Can we do it better?” Challenge yourself and take it to the next level. I’m big on that. Work hard and take care of your customers. If people call you, call them back. Last but not least — have fun when you’re doing it.
Q. What has been one of your most successful sales strategies given the current economic climate?
A. Really focusing on the customer. Building that relationship and understand how you can help them be successful. That is key. If you can help grow their business, then they will see a value in you and want to work with you. If you can help your customer win business, then they will want to partner with you and continue to grow together. It’s just as important to have strong internal relationships as external relationships. Helping our plants and divisions achieve their goals as well as my team is key. Go out and try to sell something and if we’re not perfect and we make a mistake, that’s okay. We’ll learn from it and then we’ll move forward.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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