How long have you been with NWESI?
I’ve been with NWESI about six years.
As president of NWESI, what is your role?
I would characterize the role of the president in several different categories.
- To be forward looking—to always have one eye ahead to how the company should grow, change, or react, and become the best employer we can.
- Secondary is to make sure daily work can happen uninhibited. Ensuring people have the tools they need, things are running smoothly and continually getting it to run better.
- The third sub-role is helping find our way through problems. Sometimes those problems are technical, although that’s seldom needed with the strength of our team. Other times it could be personnel issues, administrative or resource based.
- Now that I think about it, there’s a fourth role which is being the face of the company. It isn’t something that all presidents might do—but with the size of our company, I can do it. It helps support business development, and being active in groups and events helps me stay in touch with other companies so I can learn from them,
What kind of leadership does your presidency advocate?
I try to work as a servant-leader, as someone who is definitely NOT the most important in the organization. Say an asteroid hit where I am now—even if I’m gone, NWESI would still be there. But if that asteroid hit the company when everyone was in the office and I was the only person who survived, NWESI would be gone. I know that part of my job is leading us in the right direction, and working with our employees to keep them happy and growing. I really encourage others to take the lead in projects or committees because I know how important it is to develop the people under you so they’re able to fulfill their own growth and career plans.
What spurred you to move to a president role beyond your engineering start?
It started when I was at Siemens Westinghouse in Pennsylvania. One of my natural capabilities was to bring people together, summarize the situation, and manage projects. Not that I would be the leader necessarily, but I’d emphasize moving something forward. A part of this was that I started taking notes during meetings and getting them out right away. Well the leaders took notice of that initiative and put me on a leadership tract, and in management development positions afterward.
It really took two things for me to really want to undertake the jump to management—understanding that being a manager isn’t just taking responsibility for everything—it’s making sure people have what they want. I knew many senior engineers who constantly complained about the companies they were with, and I realized that by becoming a manager I wouldn’t turn into those people. Because by being manger it was my obligation to change things, move things, and figure out what wasn’t working so people would be happier and things would run better.
What brought you to NWESI?
I moved to Oregon for a position in a fuel cell company in Hillsboro that eventually went bankrupt. When a former coworker heard about that company closing, she called and encouraged me to set my sights higher than just another engineering job. I realized I liked talking to people and doing some business development, and I started looking into different roles. In spring of 2016 I ran across an ad for an engineering company that was looking for a president to replace their retiring one. And that’s how I end up at NWESI.
What do you like the most about your job?
No company is perfect, but this is one of the most caring companies I’ve been a part of and with the least amount of “drama”. We are a great size with an empowered culture for people being able to change the world around them and make things better.
A big part is that we have committees that really promote getting involved in how the company develops. We are employee-owned and we historically hadn’t done a lot to promote that or make it a value for us. In starting those committees I wanted to get the mission into the hands of the employees.
What are your outside hobbies?
I love adventure and doing new things. I love to be the best at things and I have a hundred hobbies but I can’t do them all. My current hobbies are motorcycle camping, target shooting, and civil war reenacting. We have a small farm with sheep and turkeys—our family enjoys working around the house and being involved with different activities and community projects. There’s always something going on and my most important priority for my time are my wife and children.