2018 30 Under 35 Profile: Kati Broady


Kati Broady, 32

Kati Broady
Director of Purchasing; Standard Electric Co.


Kati Broady was born in California and went to California State University at Bakersfield on a full tennis scholarship.

Upon graduation, though, she moved to Wisconsin. Soon after the move, she went looking for a job.

“It was just a change of scenery. I came out and had a friend who lived here and I decided I would come and move to Wisconsin,” she explained. “So really I just stumbled onto this job.”

The position she’s referring to was at Standard Electric Co. in Milwaukee.

“I started with them on a temp-to-hire basis,” Kati explained. “I was working with a temp agency looking for any type of administrative work and got called in for a position as the purchasing administrative assistant here at Standard.”

Standard Electric saw it had a promising young employee and hired Kati fulltime after a month at the company.

While she did not start in the near-traditional starting place (the warehouse), Kati nonetheless had a comparable reaction to many rookies in the electrical industry.

“When I first joined, I found that there were a lot of challenges, that there was a lot to learn about many different things,” Kati explained. “I didn’t start in the warehouse, but with purchasing there were so many moving pieces I always had to keep my hands on. We’re always dealing with invoicing issues, acknowledgments and shipping discrepancies. Plus, here at Standard, our purchasing is centralized. So the buyers will buy for 14 different warehouses and are having to keep track of all issues between all of those locations.”

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, though, Kati found she responded well to the challenges.

“I just noticed there was a lot of moving pieces but I just looked forward to that challenge and I liked being able to do many different things in my day,” she said.

Early in 2019, Kati was promoted to be Standard Electric’s director of purchasing.

“This role oversees not just the purchasing and the buyers, but also our pricing department as well as our compliance department,” she explained. “So my day-to-day consists of running metrics, ensuring that the buyers are doing the most efficient things as well as ensuring that they’re doing everything correctly.”

Kati also has the additional challenge of being what she called “the go-to” person whenever anything comes up and answers are needed.

“I’ll help them find the answers to solve those problems. So really a lot of my day is managing an inbox full of questions,” she explained.

Standard Electric has five buyers, a pricing manager, and a purchasing assistant, all of whom report to Kati.

Kati is married and along with her husband, Scott, has a 4-year-old son, Torben. And the California native actually likes the Wisconsin winters—for the most part.

“I mean, the first snow every year is very beautiful and I think it’s so great to see. But when you get to April and it’s still snowing, that’s when I start to wonder what the heck I was thinking in moving here,” she laughed.


Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?

A. My advice would be that it’s not all about moving up as quickly as you can. It’s about learning your job and being really good at your job. And then the movement of the position will come. I learned that from my own experience.

I have a new hire and one of the first questions is, “Oh, you said there was opportunity for advancement?” And, you know, it’s a lot like when your parents told you when you were a kid, “Don’t rush into becoming an adult. It’s not as great as you think it’s going to be.” So you don’t need to rush into management because it’s a whole different ballpark. You don’t get to do what you love as much because you’re busy managing others. So take it slow, enjoy the job and success is going to find you.


Q. What has changed the most in the industry in the past five years?

A. I think that it’s gotten a lot more competitive. I think that the pace of it has picked up so people are required to answer things a lot faster than they were maybe five years ago. I think customer service has changed significantly. Customer service is something that can define a distributor because that’s one of the things that can showcase what makes you different from your competition.

I also think it’s gotten a lot less personal and more down to business. There is all this technology and sometimes you benefit from it. We all do. But there’s a less of a personal touch involved.

I don’t get on the phone and talk to many people anymore. It’s more e-mails and going back and forth with everything at the touch of your fingertips. So a lot of people will just Google things or try to look it up themselves without having to call and ask questions. So you have to be a step of ahead of the rest.

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Joe Nowlan  is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at

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