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2021 30 Under 35 Profile: Kyle Noakes

Kyle Noakes, 28
Director of Projects
OneSource Distributors

Kyle joined OneSource in 2016, but his career in the industry actually started one year earlier at Texas A&M. “During my last two semesters of college I worked on a project for our parent company Sonepar. It was focused on lighting services and the lighting projects world,” he said. “That got me interested from day one. But what really attracted me was the people with whom I worked on the project. There were six individuals from different operating companies, all with different backgrounds and perspectives. Talking to them and hearing about their day-to-day grabbed my attention.”

More than six years later, the industry continues to appeal to Kyle. “I love how blue-collar it is,” he said. “It’s not about who you’re related to, what you’ve done in the past, or what college you went to…it’s about what are you going to do for the customer today and moving forward.”

When asked about a problem facing the industry today, Kyle pointed to the aging workforce, a challenge that hits close to home. “It’s very hard to become a great project manager and estimator,” he noted. “It takes years of process understanding, product knowledge, industry knowledge, and relationships to get to that point, and that creates a huge gap for us when it comes to succession planning.”

Kyle explained that one way OneSource is addressing this by recruiting outside of the industry. “What’s absolutely important to us is finding someone who is going to fit with the company culture,” he said. “We can provide all the right tools and training, but none of it helps if the person isn’t the right fit. And it works. We’ve brought on a few people very early in their careers, with almost no experience, and within a year or two they were promoted once or even twice. It’s been a big help with the aging workforce concern and succession planning.”

As for his next career goal, Kyle has his eyes on an executive-level position. “I really like influencing and helping people,” he said, “In my current role I have about 24 direct reports. When I think of the executives and company presidents, I get a little jealous about how much they influence and impact our day-to-day and our lives personally. So, reaching that level is definitely a goal of mine.”

How does he plan to reach that goal?  “By being curious and learning from everyone—from the most senior people in the organization to the entry-level employees,” Kyle said. “Everyone has great ideas and perspectives, so it’s always great to kind of look all around you, not just at those at the top. I’m always looking in the mirror making sure that I’m doing what I can not only to grow personally, but also to contribute to the organization and make it better.”

What would Kyle tell someone just entering the industry? “Ask as many questions as possible,” he said. “Find a mentor who has been successful in a career path that you’re wanting to pursue. Reach out and ask them to spend some time with you. When I was working on that project at Texas A&M, one of the individuals assigned to the project has stayed a mentor and close friend. I still talk to him weekly.”

When he’s not working, Kyle participates in local softball and kickball leagues, watches sports, and spends time with friends and family. “My family is the most important thing to me,” he said, adding that he and his girlfriend also have two German Shepherd dogs. “Taking them for walks, hanging out with friends and family…that’s what I really enjoy.”

 

Each year tED magazine recognizes 30 of the industry’s best and brightest under the age of 35. Please visit tedmag.com/30Under35 for nomination information and updates about the 2021 program. Questions can be sent to tED Editor Misty Byers at mbyers@naed.org.

 

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