By Joe Nowlan
In April, the editors of tED magazine sent out a call for
the industry’s “rising stars”—electrical professionals 34 years old or younger
who have the initiative, drive, integrity, and creativity to move the industry
forward in the decades to come. The call drew nominations from all segments of
the industry—distributors, suppliers, rep firms, software/services providers,
and VARs. Here on tedmag.com, we will post a new, full interview with one of
these impressive young people weekly; coverage of all of the honorees can be
found in the July 2012 issue
of tED. Watch for information about our next “30 Under 35” competition in
in this 30 under 35 series describe the diverse job categories available in
electrical distribution, they might have someone like Amanda Witham in mind.
attending Syracuse University, Witham interned at a sports marketing company.
At the time she thought marketing was the direction her career was headed.
Unfortunately, it was a non-paid internship.
“Since I had
to pay my way through college, that wasn’t going to work out very well for me,”
Through a classmate,
she was able to land an internship with GE Supply during the summer after her
junior year (a paid internship, this time).
She took a
double major at Syracuse: marketing and supply chain management. An academic
advisor suggested she add the supply chain major to her marketing studies, pointing
out that it was a growing field.
graduation, GE offered her a position in its distribution and sales program. She
enjoyed both the work and the electrical industry.
After a few
years with GE, Witham, who grew up in Maine, moved to Crescent Electric Supply (2006),
and is the east financial operations officer working out of its Bronx, N.Y. office.
I had a role here that really didn’t have a title. We called it ‘operations
manager’ for a while, and then we actually called it ‘profitability manager,’”
Witham explained. “It’s sort of evolved over time, and I’m still doing some of
that work. Every day is different. I work on different projects trying to find
out if there is a profit leak involved.”
Witham was a
member of the NAED Women in Industry Committee (2009-2010) and NAED’s Women in
Industry Recruiting Sub-Committee (2011-2012). She was also a member of an
Industry Expert Panel at the 2012 Women in Industry forum held in Coeur d’Alene,
that has really helped me enjoy this industry even more—to see such smart and
powerful women in every type of role we have,” Witham said. “It’s not just HR
and marketing anymore. There are financial managers, presidents…it’s a
wonderful experience to interact with these women.”
believes the industry is drawing more young, talented women to the industry
than in the past.
“I hope so.
The forum has grown and grown every year, which is really exciting. We’re also
starting to hold boot camps, to bring in women who are new to the industry,”
she explained. “I think a lot of our colleges are focusing on industrial
distribution now…. So I think it’s opening up more. We’re hitting more
college fairs, too, and getting the right younger people in place.”
and enthusiasm for her job is palpable.
we are starting our budget season. I call this my ‘second Christmas,’” Witham
laughed. “I really enjoy that…. I’m not an accountant by any means. I enjoy
spreadsheets and numbers, but [in my position] I’m really just saying, ‘OK, we
said we set this goal for the end of the year. How are we going to get there?’
We have sales managers who are great and I’m supporting them to make sure they
can get their goals accomplished.”
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and
author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.