Account Manager; CapitalTristate
By Joe Nowlan
In 2006 Michael Carr graduated from Millersville University in Pennsylvania and started working in finance for a while. But he admits it wasn't a good fit.
It was while attending a job fair that a company caught his eye.
“I didn't know a lot about Schaedler Yesco [headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa.] but I submitted my resume and a couple of weeks later they called me in for an interview,” he explained.
In the interim he did his research and liked what he found out about the company. He started there in June 2008.
“It was a great place to work. As I started in the industry I began to learn more and it was something I enjoyed,” Michael explained. “It was something I had never planned on doing or getting into. But it really struck a chord with me once I began to understand it.”
Like some in this “30 Under 35” series, Michael was pursuing one career in college before finding himself in the electrical industry.
“Originally what I had wanted to do was to be either a child psychologist or a school counselor. One of those two things and coach high school basketball as well,” he said. “I later changed majors to business psychology but I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do when I got out. But I knew two things: I liked working with people and I like helping people through issues.”
At Schaedler, he was involved in various segments and learned a lot, something he is grateful for to this day.
“I worked there for about seven years and left on good terms,” he explained. “I would not be in a position to be named to a 30 under 35 if it weren't for the folks at Schaedler and all they taught me. Outside of some basic residential knowledge, I knew very little of the electrical industry.”
After seven years there, he moved to his current employer, Upper Marlboro, Maryland-based CapitalTristate in 2015.
“I was approached by a Sonepar recruiter at a time I where I was looking for more responsibility in my career,” Michael explained.
The opening at Capital and his own yearning for more responsibility made it the right career move, he said.
“The situation they were in gave me the opportunity to really be part of building something, to grow a business segment in a market area I was familiar with,” Michael explained.
With all he has going on, Michael still found time to earn his MBA from Villanova in 2016.
“It was something that I thought about doing truthfully ever since I got out of college,” Michael explained.
He and his wife Briana have a son Declan, who is four, and a daughter, Fallyn, who is two.
“Now that I am done with the MBA studies, I feel like I have so much more time than I used to,” Michael said. “On the weekends and during the summer I love to play golf with my family and friends. Plus we always have some sort of kids activities planned on the weekends.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Find someone who is not in your role or in your department and shadow them and cling to them. I learned more and I think I have been afforded more opportunities than some of the other folks that I worked with because of my willingness to not just ask questions but to actively get involved with other departments. I currently sit on a couple of different subcommittees and teams within our company on various topics like strategic planning for the company. If I didn't understand how some of the other departments work – whether it is finance or marketing or accounts receivable – I know I couldn't be part of those committees because I wouldn't be able to actively participate in discussions.
The other thing I would strongly suggest is to get involved with the NAED. I am on NAED's LEAD committee. It's my third year being part of it and my fourth year going to the conferences. I meet new people from across the country every single time and I learn more in the 2 ½ days that I am at the conference than any classes that I have had throughout my career. You get involved not only with other people from other companies but you get to share best practices. It is not just a work-related thing. You actually begin to build friendships. You start off with something you have in common, being in the electrical industry, and find that most of the people at those conferences have stories similar to yours.
Q. Why are you so passionate about the electrical industry?
A. I knew nothing of the industry when I started in it yet it touches almost every single person that you know and almost everything you do—whether it is when you walk into your house and turn on the lights or surfing the Internet. A lot of these new tech companies that pop up are derivative from what the electrical industry has been able to help provide over the years.
It's an industry I didn't go to school for. I didn't know anything about it. Yet I have been in it now for eight years. But just be willing to try and willing to learn and more importantly be willing to listen. I know plenty of people that have been in this industry for 10 years and are now in executive roles in their company. Plenty of people from my MBA class in finance and consulting have been doing it for 10 or 15 years and are still not in management or perhaps are in low-level management. Now I look around some of the people I see at the LEAD conference with whom I am friends and they had no prior experience in the electrical industry. And they have been able to rise through the ranks within their companies just because of their willingness to learn and listen to what others have to teach them. And that's not something that is common anymore.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tagged with 30 under 35, tED