Our Culture: Promoting from WithinTraining + Development
By Philip Chen, Manager of Research & Development
At CNUC, we firmly believe in developing our employees and have always publicized that culture of promoting from within. During the recent overhaul of the CNUC website, the marketing team and I updated the management team bios. While looking them over, that culture became extremely evident. Almost every bio reflected this practice:
Josh Beaver: LCUF > Regional Supervisor > Regional Manager > Vice President
Matt Searels: LCUF > Regional Supervisor > Regional Manager
Ben Keck: CUF > SCUF > Regional Supervisor > Regional Manager
Patrick Larsen: CUF > LCUF > Project Manager > Regional Supervisor > Regional Manager
And myself: 2 CUF positions > Regional Supervisor > Technical Applications Specialist > Consultant > Manager of R&D
This same trend holds as you look throughout our management team. All our managers, supervisors, and regional coordinators were promoted up through the ranks. Likely it will be the case for you or those you work with on your contracts. This promotion culture is one of the things that drew me to CNUC. We focus on our people and providing the best training and support we can. In the end, this means our employees are the best candidates available. It provides opportunities for all of you, provides the company with the best possible candidates, and keeps it in the family.
However, time after time, I speak with my fellow managers who are not getting applicants for our internally posted positions. No one is stepping up to fill vacancies as they open in our management team. I find it disheartening. To me, this signals we have failed all of you. I believe one of two things is happening.
Either our employees don’t feel prepared to step into these positions, or we have done a poor job of communicating to our teams why they might want to apply, despite any hesitations. Worse, maybe both are true.
Both seem unacceptable to me. So, here I am attempting to right these wrongs. Let’s start with feeling ready to step into one of these roles. I felt this way myself in my career at CNUC – twice.
The first time I was working as a transmission CUF and had only been working at CNUC for about three months. A position came open for a technical applications specialist (TAS) position in Division 30, our research & development (R&D) division. Before working for CNUC, I worked in research and was eager to continue in that vein. I didn’t feel as if my CNUC resume would allow me to have a high chance of getting the position. However, my LCUF Dave encouraged me to apply. He knew me and my background. He noted that if I applied, I would at least show my interest in management and get some interview experience. If I was lucky, I would end up the most qualified candidate despite my reservations.
I didn’t get the position. The interview process, however, allowed me to get to know both the director and manager of division 30 and I got to express my interest. It did lead to opportunities, just not any I had anticipated. They started reaching out to me when projects came up – this allowed us to work together, and they got to know me better. I ended up working on three projects. All of this gave me more exposure to division 30 and helped build my resume along the way.
The second time I felt unqualified for a new position was in late 2016. A bunch of things moved at the top of CNUC leadership that caused a chain reaction of promotions above me, leading to an open regional supervisor position. I was interested in the job, but as I noted earlier, I had, from an early start, had my eyes set on R&D. Additionally, I hadn’t been in a LCUF role, and I knew at least one LCUF who would be applying. Once again, it took someone encouraging me. Just before the deadline closed, Matt Searels called me to ask why he hadn’t seen my application. In my conversation with him, I explained how I wanted a position in division 30 and was thinking about holding out for a position to open and about how I wasn’t sure on paper I was ready to take on a supervisor role. Matt was a manager at this time, and he asked me a question I hadn’t considered. He asked, “Don’t you think being a regional supervisor in division 20 would better prepare you for that future division 30 position?” At that moment, I felt silly for not applying. I got the regional supervisor position and transferred to division 30 less than a year later.
“Don’t you think being a regional supervisor in division 20 would better prepare you for that future division 30 position?” At that moment, I felt silly for not applying. I got the regional supervisor position and transferred to division 30 less than a year later.
I understand there may be other hesitations for applying for these positions. I had those as well. Often our jobs require long hours, a high travel percentage, relocation and stress. This brings me to my next point; we have not done an adequate job as a management team in helping each of you to understand why we love our jobs despite all of that – the reasons you should apply regardless of reservations you might have around management positions.
I’ll start with what to me seems the most obvious. We just had our mid-year management meeting. In that room sat 17 of us. Unlike larger organizations, regional coordinators up through the president are all voicing opinions and determining company strategy together. Each of us is responsible for making the decisions that impact all 400 employees at CNUC. That is a big responsibility, and it provides a lot of meaning to what we do each day. Our entire management team, down to coordinators, are making high-level decisions for our organization. In short, being on the management team gives you a seat at the decision-making table.
The job shifts from being about trees to being about relationships. With our diverse territories, clients and employees, each day is a new challenge.
It doesn’t have the daily routine like in the field. My days include visiting clients and CUFs, conducting onboardings and training, helping address issues, building personal relationships with direct reports, conducting safety and field audits and yes, some administrative tasks. It is an ever-changing job.
Not all of us have a Dave or Matt to push us to take opportunities. Let me be that encouragement for each of you. If you have ambitions for a leadership role within CNUC, please let our management team know by throwing your name in the hat. Holding a management position at CNUC is rewarding. It comes with financial incentives (differences in pay, benefits, development opportunities, etc.), stays exciting – not to mention you get to have a seat at the decision-making table. Above all, it’s fun! I took on my first management role as a regional supervisor to build my resume. Now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’d encourage you to consider doing the same.