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 Jeff Erickson, a 2013 honoree.
What is your current position?
Senior Product Manager – Distribution Equipment, Lighting, Datacom, and our VMI programs fall under me.
What has been the reaction from co-workers and people in the industry to your “30 Under 35” award?
Even though it was a couple years ago already… it still gets brought up now in some conversations. Everyone has been very supportive since I have won the “30 Under 35” award. From Werner Electric Supply employees, to people in the industry, as well as people outside the industry. I think this award puts you in a great position to keep striving to be excellent and an integral part in the world of electrical distribution.
What advice would you give young professionals about electrical distribution?
Electrical distribution is changing on a daily basis. [Distributors] need to constantly think of ways to differentiate [themselves] from competition.
Young professionals looking to come into the field need to look at the long haul and not short-term success. Short-term success rarely happens in this field, and you need to build trust and relationships… That comes with a good amount of time.
Young professionals need to establish both short-term and, more importantly, long-term goals of what they want out of the field. Honestly, you can make whatever you want of it, but you need to be focused and keep your eyes on the future.
What recruiting advice would you give companies when it comes to hiring great, young talent?
Obviously, when trying to hire talent these days, today’s young professionals are a different class we need to focus on. They have different needs and wants than what recruiters and employers are used to. I think employers need to be more flexible to an open schedule, if permitted, as long as work gets completed. A lot of employees coming into the market are working to have time off. I believe a majority of them are more concerned with benefits and time off than money. But, obviously, money is a close second.
How important was your mentoring (and reverse mentoring) when it comes to furthering your career?
I am a firm believer in having a good mentor. Obviously, someone cannot know everything about everyone or everything, but can be proficient in a wide array of things. A good mentor teaches you the skills you need and want to possess to be able to look to the future of what you want to accomplish professionally. A good mentor usually has experience and you are able to draw off that experience that they have been through and learn from that.
What advice would you give to company leaders (c-suite) about working with millennials?
The perception of millennials to company leaders is they have a horrible work ethic and do not work hard. This might be the case with some of the millennial population, but I would not buy into this at all. It might not seem [like] they are working hard, but they are probably working smarter than what leaders are used to when they came up through the ranks. [Their] belief is to work for results and accomplishments rather than just putting in the “hard work,” grind-it-out day.
With these type of actions also comes flexibility. Leaders might have set times – no matter what, they want you in the office or want you behind a desk. Millennials want more flexibility and the ability to be more creative than the everyday regular routine.
What do you see in the future of electrical distribution when it comes to technology and business practices?
It will be always pushing to the future – whether that be the last 5 years or 50 years. Compare what has happened in those time frames. I think we see the trend of electrical distribution becoming more e-commerce based in SOME parts of electrical distribution. There will always be the need for physical employees and expertise, but aspects of buying will change to make it easier for customers. Companies are getting smarter in [e-commerce] practices and their marketing departments [are attaching] dollar signs to actions. I think this will cause some major shake-ups that distributors will have to adapt to.
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