We’re catching up with our previous “30 Under 35” winners to see where they are now and how their perspective has changed since being named one of the rising stars of the electrical industry.
Today, we talk with David Wills, a 2014 honoree.
What is your current position?
Division Project Manager, Rexel West Coast
What has been the reaction from co-workers and people in the industry to your “30 Under 35” award?
[They were] happy and excited for me. It was a humbling honor to be selected. People thought it was well deserved and they let me know.
What advice would you give young professionals about electrical distribution?
Be open-minded. If you come across a situation that is new, embrace it. Cross training is key. If you learn a little about every tier of distribution, you’ll become an even bigger asset.
What recruiting advice would you give companies when it comes to hiring great, young talent?
Companies need to be open-minded too. You need to put the extra effort into training young talent that is new to the industry. Looking for the “re-tread” hire because they have experience is a lazy way to look at growing. My best hires in the past two years have been young, aggressive, and willing to learn new things.
How important was your mentoring (and reverse mentoring) when it comes to furthering your career?
Mentoring is key on both sides. My mentors coming up in the industry led me the right direction and greatly helped me. I’ve had the ability to mentor a few new employees over the past two years. Every time I mentor someone I learn something new. Mentoring is a key piece to growing in the industry as a manager in my opinion.
What advice would you give to company leaders (c-suite) about working with Millennials?
Again, keep an open mind. Even though they don’t understand product, they can learn computer systems and processes extremely fast. I’m in my mid 30’s and they can run circles around me when it comes to computers. So, where they lack in industry knowledge they make up for it in speed and productivity.
What do you see in the future of electrical distribution when it comes to technology and business practices?
I think in the next 3 years the typical inside salesman will be a thing of the past. Most purchasing agents are getting younger and they will be doing most of their commodity buying online. Everything now needs to be a “value add” from distribution. We need to provide a service that the customer can’t click and go. Project management, quotations, problem solving, and design & build.
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