Change can be hard, and I’ll be the first to admit I resist change. When it comes to work, I get very comfortable in a job, sometimes too comfortable. Sometimes it’s time for change, sometimes because I’ve done what needed to be done and it’s time to find a new challenge, to move up in the corporate world, to force myself out of my comfort zone for a little while in order to make progress. Today, that change happened.

I have worked with Itron, Inc. for nearly 14 years. I had a year away from the company as I pursued other advancement opportunities but was able to come back when that didn’t pan out. Initially I worked in engineering as a technician. I had past experience in electronic production with Hewlett Packard and the step to a technician was the professional advancement I needed at the time.

As a technician I worked with electrical, mechanical and software engineers. I was exposed to sales and marketing, production and many other functions in between. During my time as a technician, I discovered I really didn’t want to be an engineer, I wanted to be a manager. I wanted to lead. This is what led me to completing my Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management at Whitworth University.

Currently, I work in Customer Service with Itron. Upon my return I wasn’t able to get back into engineering, but that turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. My manager and I have had many conversations, one of which illustrates how the company is held up by three things, like three legs of a stool: Engineering which builds the products, Marketing and Sales which sell the products, and Customer Service which provides a conduit for customer feedback as well as help with products. I had engineering background and now over the last three years I had gained customer service background. My next logical step was into the marketing area.

Earlier this year I applied for a Product Manager position. It was being vacated by someone I respected and admired; I had worked with him for the last three years. He came to me and told me I should apply for his job.

I was a -great- candidate for the position. I -knew- the position and the product it was related to. I just didn’t have the marketing or sales background. They selected another Itron employee who had more years with the company and experience in sales. The manager and the interview team also knew that even if I was not selected, I would work well with whoever was hired. And that’s exactly what happened. Someone else got the job but I have been working with them to help them come up to speed on the product, it’s what I know and we are one big team.

A few weeks later, the manager of that group approached me. They had been so impressed with me, he wanted to offer me a shot at a new job he had just received approval to hire against. It wasn’t a Product Manager, and it didn’t pay as much, but it was a great stepping stone into that arena. I sat and talked with him for some time about it and became interested.

The official job title is “Applications Engineer” (level II). The job entails working closely with -all- the product managers and assisting them with things they don’t have time to do. In addition, the job will be assisting with all facets of product managing, including hardware and software control, developing product requirements, working with the product teams, attending trade shows, doing demonstrations and training and many other things. Basically, it’s like a training job, to -be- a Product Manager.

My wife and I prayed about it a little and I took all the steps necessary to apply. I was granted the opportunity to interview. My last interview was this morning, and by close of business I had been offered and accepted the job. Yea… not as much money as the Product Manager position, and not as much as I tried to negotiate for, but it’s a good job and it should provide new challenges, new fun and new opportunities.

I am excited about this new opportunity at the same time I’m a bit anxious. There are so many more things to learn, and I need to learn them. I pray I am able to do my best, to be the best person they could have possibly hired for this job and to make an impression on folks that shows my value to them within the company; to continue the work ethic and contributions I have already given to Itron. I pray this exposes me to even more opportunities in the years to come.

I’m working with a great group of guys, I start officially on June 14. I’m ready.

Asa Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton