Learning the Business

by Bea Amaya, CAPS Marketing

I’ve been on board with Custom Air Products & Services for 6 months now and this weekend I actually settled in to an office space. While it might seem a little odd for the Marketing Manager to go 6 months without an office space of my own, there really was some method to the madness. You see, although I’ve spent my adult life serving in roles mostly throughout the petrochemical industry (I started life as an I&E technician!), the HVAC industry is  new to me.

I started off sitting in a “borrowed” office in the Sales and Mechanical Field Services building. Listening to the goings-on there, watching the equipment being assembled, loaded, and shipped, hearing jokes, witnessing disagreements, observing collaborations…ALL of this was so very helpful to me and a really great place to start. After a month or so, I picked up and moved.

bea-office

My next location had me sitting in an open plan area next to engineering designers and draftsmen. Here I learned about the challenges this department faces when trying to interface with the other departments. I watched these guys work late into the evening on occasion, heard their struggles with trying to answer to salesmen, project managers, management, and customers, and learned about the challenges and rewards of teamworkwithin departments as well as across them.

After a month of this I next moved to the HVAC & Plumbing Services department. I chose an open area here as well in order to listen in on the issues this group deals with every day. I actually had no idea how this division operated before I sat with them. I was surprised to find they were more like an individual company within a company in their methods of handling everything from manpower issues to accounting issues to problem resolutions. I really enjoyed seeing how the members of this group took real ownership of the processes and procedures they were responsible for. Another eye-opening period of time was under my belt now and it was time to move again.

My next location was sitting above the fab shop with the project managers responsible for the monitoring and control of fabrication and manufacturing projects in progress. Having worked with project managers for much of my career (and as one!), I thought this would be the spot that would be more familiar than the others. In some ways I was right, but there were so many ways that my assumptions would have been way off base without this chance to watch these guys in action, listen to the issues they deal with every day, and be a part of their lives for a few weeks.

Although I’ve now settled in to my own space, with things of my choosing on the walls, information organized the way I like it, and a door that I can close when I need to (big smile) I am VERY pleased with my 6-month rotation throughout the facility and what it has meant to me. I am much more comfortable working with all of these different groups now, much more knowledgeable about the challenges and rewards they deal with on a daily basis, and just a little more informed about this business I’ve chosen to pursue and how it works.

I would HIGHLY recommend this kind of path toward learning for new employees,or even others that might need a “refresher course”, especially in the HVAC industry. For the rest of you, I can only recommend that you get out and about in your own businesses, going places you might not normally go and talking to people you might not normally see. In my experience, the value to your own development as an employee, manager, or supervisor is in the unexpected experiences that come with that kind of journey.

 

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