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 Neil Gartin, a 2013 honoree.
What is your current position?
As BSE’s Data and Analytics Manager, I lead a corporate shared services team that develops reporting and analytic solutions and handles the governance of enterprise master data.
What has been the reaction from co-workers and people in the industry to your “30 Under 35” award?
It is definitely something that is noticed. BSE is very proud to have several award winners over the past few years. I hope that it serves as an inspiration to others in the company and industry to challenge themselves and seek out opportunities to lead.
What advice would you give young professionals about electrical distribution?
Three general things – explore your career interests and set personal goals around them; seek out mentors that you can share ideas with and learn from; and whatever your role is, spend time learning about the needs and challenges of your customers, internal or external.
What recruiting advice would you give companies when it comes to hiring great, young talent?
Since the industry doesn’t have the exposure of tech or finance, don’t wait for them to come to you – go to them and sell the industry. Bring your existing talent to career fairs so they can tell their story to job seekers. We all have an interesting story on how we arrived in the electrical industry and why we stay.
Also, many young people want to know what growth opportunities exist, so it’s helpful to articulate resources available for developing skills and possible career paths that can be had in electrical distribution.
How important was your mentoring (and reverse mentoring) when it comes to furthering your career?
Guidance and encouragement from mentors has been a key driver of my career development and growth. Mentors have helped me learn about electrical products and their applications, the unique aspects of our industry, and how to best serve customers. They have motivated me to take on new challenges and have pushed me out of my comfort zone.
I have also benefited from paying it forward. Acting as a mentor for others is a great way to give back and to keep your own knowledge fresh.
What advice would you give to company leaders (c-suite) about working with Millennials?
There are some observations about Millennials that I think ring true and would be helpful for company leaders to observe. Millennials like feedback on their work and can learn and adapt quickly when feedback is given.
Millennials do not like to be bored. They expect to have fun in the workplace, so it’s a good idea to have regular social events and activities for your company. Also consider including Millennials in projects outside their daily responsibilities – variety is good. Push them to develop a vision for their career that they can take incremental steps toward.
What do you see in the future of electrical distribution when it comes to technology and business practices?
I think that distributors will need to demonstrate value and compete differently as e-commerce plays a larger and larger role in our business. For customers that shop online, a distributor’s website design and product content are going to become important differentiators.
As an analytics manager, I also see an increased role for predictive analytics in the sales process and in supply chain management. Retail and tech companies use predictive analytics to anticipate consumer needs in sophisticated ways. This sets a higher bar for the customer experience; electrical distributors will need to use these same predictive techniques to meet customers’ higher expectations.
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