Julia Gehman, 25
Customer Digital Analyst
Julia began her career in the electrical industry in August 2020. “After graduating from college, I joined NorthEast (A Sonepar Company) in the Sales an Operation Development Program,” she noted. “After the nine-month program was over, I settled into a role as a lighting solution specialist in May 2021.”
Julia was promoted to utility program coordinator in December of 2021 and just recently moved into her current role of customer digital analyst. “I was also appointed Sustainability Ambassador of my operating company, reporting to Sonepar’s sustainability committee,” she added.
Admitting she was unfamiliar with the industry before applying to the Sonepar Sales and Operations Development Program, Julia said “This rotational program opened my eyes to the electrical industry. I was attracted to it because it allowed for hands-on experience and insight into each aspect of the business. It was important for me to learn all sides of the business and industry before starting my role. This allowed me to appreciate not only what I do, but also what others do in their roles at NorthEast.”
Asked about a problem the industry is currently facing, Julia pointed to the small number of young professionals entering it and the large amount of industry professionals leaving due to retirement. “About a year into my time at NorthEast I noticed just how many of my coworkers were retiring and how little new and younger employees were joining my company,” she explained. “Retention in younger employees is an issue in the electrical industry. Furthermore, having a large range of generations/ages in the workforce presents a slew of issues—including communication between associates of different generations.”
For this reason, Julia started the Connect ERG at NorthEast. “This is a multigenerational employee resource group [ERG] that focuses on finding common ground between generations and removing barriers in communication to drive personal and professional development,” she explained. “As a group, we want to foster a company-wide culture that attracts and retains diverse talent and educates associates on the differences in work preferences between generations. I serve as the president of our NorthEast Electrical chapter, which currently has 28 members—ranging from young professionals to experienced professionals. Five other Sonepar operating companies are working on starting the Connect ERG at their locations as well.”
Julia would tell someone entering the industry “to be vocal about their ideas, tell people what you want, ask for help, and push the boundaries,” she said. “This industry has a lot of room for growth.”
When she’s not working, Julia enjoys reading—she and some of her friends recently started a book club—going on walks around Boston and exploring all the amazing restaurants the city has to offer. “Most of my weekends are spent at the beach, relaxing, but a few months ago, I did my first big hike and hiked to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire!” she said.
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 2023 program. Questions can be sent to tED Editor Misty Byers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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