By Jennifer Erb
2017-05-152017-05-31https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Melissa Dubsky (Cottage)
IMSE Undergraduate Class of 2011
Mayer Electric Supply
What does the company do? Mayer Electric Supply is a 3rd generation, family owned, super-regional distributor of electrical products. Mayer is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama and has 52 locations across the Southeast, reaching as far West as Texas and as far north as Pittsburg, PA.
Current role: Category Manager, Distribution and Control
How did I get to my current role?
A day in life of a Category Manager – It is unbelievably difficult to explain a day in the life of someone in a commercial-type role as every day is so different. In addition to that, I recently moved into a Category Manager role for a distributor that was my customer during my time at GE. This role is new to the organization, and one that Mayer had been discussing for some time. Timing met opportunity and I was given the chance to work for a company that has felt like home since the day I walked through the doors as a sales rep at GE, in a role that will drive change in how the organization operates.
As Category Manager for Distribution and Control, I work in a similar way that a Product Manager at a manufacturer would work, except we don’t make the product, but distribute the product to market. I’m responsible for growing our share and profitability of our Distribution and Control product portfolio and work very closely with our suppliers and internal team to do so. There are three strategic suppliers in my Category who I work very closely with to develop our growth plans and initiatives. It’s one thing to talk about the plans and initiatives but it’s another to drive it, and that is where my role comes in. I work closely with key stakeholders across our organization in business functions such as Marketing, Pricing, Sales, Purchasing, etc. to stitch together a cohesive strategy and drive execution. A few examples of items I may be involved in are managing supplier programs, marketing programs, new product launches, digital integration with suppliers, education for our sales teams, and enabling our sales team with the tools they need to be successful.
Here’s an example of a recent day I’ve had:
6:30AM – Arrive at my office, which is at our largest branch in the company, from a volume standpoint. I check emails and my calendar and get ready for the day ahead. In the afternoon I will be heading over to Birmingham to meet with our president and my manager, the COO. Time to prepare!
8:00AM – It’s Monday which means there is a Monday morning call for the Georgia division. Since my role is corporate, and I work out of a branch, I try to attend these when I can. Staying connected with our branch managers, and the outside and inside account managers helps me truly understand challenges our team is seeing, and stay in tune with changing market dynamics. I take this feedback and incorporate it into my plans for the Category and use it in conversation with suppliers.
9:00AM – The new process my co-worker and I have been working on for 2 months and finally launched this morning to help our sales team sell small projects out of stock is broken- oh no! Time to get in touch with our IT team, pricing managers, and all three of our key suppliers in the Category- GE, Square D, and Siemens to fix the issue before losing momentum with our sales team. Our teams have so much more to sell then just my product line, so it’s all about making their lives efficient, eliminating roadblocks, and maintaining the mindshare.
11:30- It’s lunch time, and I have a ton of catching up to do with one of our suppliers- time to multitask! A year ago, Mayer made a very large, strategic conversion and the pressure is on! What a great time to come on board in my role as this supplier is a key to the success of my category and for Mayer Electric. It’s time to meet with our supplier’s Key Account Manager for Mayer and work on our strategy and lay out what needs to get done before our next big Face to Face leadership review in just a few weeks. We spend time organizing meetings with key stakeholders, reviewing performance and conversion numbers, discussing action items from prior calls, and map out our growth walk to the 2017 goal
12:30- Time to head over to corporate in Birmingham, AL. The 2 ½ hour has become a breeze and I spend it on strategically scheduled conference calls, listening to podcasts, or just relaxing from the busy morning and enjoying some music with the windows down.
2:00– Gotta love the time change! I arrive at headquarters in Birmingham, AL. I walk through the front doors and can’t help but glance at all of the memorabilia in the front entryway. The story how Mayer was started and how it has progressed through the years, while maintaining the culture it does today is truly inspirational. It really feels like home. I walk into the President’s office, and spend a few minutes chatting about the latest small project process we rolled out while sharing some laughs. After catching up for a few minutes, we dive into the latest progress of the supplier conversion, and catch up on our meeting with their CFO last week that we hosted in Birmingham. We talk about the initiatives our teams are driving and the progress of those, but also talk about areas where I need help eliminating hurdles. We spend some additional time talking about our other suppliers, and follow up on a recent meeting with GE’s leadership team.
3:00PM – While in Birmingham, I head upstairs to meet with our Digital Marketing Director, after popping my head into my boss’s office (the COO), our CIO, and CEO who is female. Yet another reason why I love this company- our CEO and Chairman of the Board is a female in male dominated industry! While with our marketing director, we re-record parts of a Podcast we were working on to train our sales team on our new small project process. We then stop by the IT department to further troubleshoot our process issue, and round up a few folks to make a fun video in the warehouse to promote our new program to both our internal “customers” / associates, and external customers.
4:30– It’s been quite the day- but it’s not over yet! Time to meet with 5 other young leaders at Mayer. Our President and HR leader has assembled a group of us that are new to our roles, which are all new positions that change the way the organization operates. We’ve been tasked to read a book about the rapid pace of change in the world we live in, and how to stay at the forefront and not fall behind. We spend the next several hours offsite together enjoying some drinks, having a meal, and mapping out our ideas which we will be pitching to the president in just a few weeks.
7:30– Time to head to my hotel for the night. I’ll head back to Atlanta in the morning, but may swing by the Birmingham office to wrap up a few things first. Today was a long day, but the best part is, much of it didn’t even feel like work.
What’s the end goal? This is such a hard question. Changing roles so often at my prior company was a wonderful experience, and I was given great opportunities at a very young age, but right now I want to stay in a role long enough to truly become an expert. Long term, I would like to either manage a team of Category Managers, or move into a Sales Leadership role. Whatever I do, I want to stay on the Commercial side of the business as I feel like I can make the greatest impact, while also enjoying what I do.
Why Category Management/Sales? I still don’t believe anyone truly knows what they want to be when they grow up- and if you would have asked me while I was sitting in one of my IE classes in the Engineering Science Building, I wouldn’t have told you that I would have went into technical sales, and certainly wouldn’t have told you I was destined to be in the electrical industry. GE blessed me with incredible opportunities and connections outside of the business and in the industry with customers and distributors throughout the Southeast. I took a risk to go work for a customer that I had an incredible amount of passion for, and it was the best decision I ever made. Category Management is a great role because you are the quarterback and have to drive these big picture plans at a corporate level, but get to work across and with so many different facets of the business and see these big picture ideas come to life. It’s incredibly fulfilling to come up with a plan in its infancy and see it come to life. Relationships with your internal stakeholders and suppliers are extremely critical in a role like this. I feel like I’ve been able to carry over many of my lessons from being a sales engineer at GE and apply it to my role here at Mayer. You learn how to talk to various types of people that think and care about different things, to all achieve one common goal. Being on the supplier side prior to this role has really helped me in negotiating with our suppliers today, as I have been in their shoes and know what challenges they face.
My 2 cents – Be open minded and don’t fear new opportunities, even if they aren’t fully defined. This is the second role I have moved into that didn’t exist prior to me stepping into the role- and both of those roles have hands down been my favorite and the most rewarding. Also, as simple as it sounds, listen. There is an incredible amount of knowledge to learn from those that came before us, and showing an interest in what people have to say and looking at a problem from all sides will gain you credibility. Always stay humble, but never be scared to speak your mind. If you listen to others, they will listen to you.