Discovering your own strengths in industry

While some may have the image of a dream job set in their heads and take steps towards pursuing that vision, for others, careers can be a journey of discovery. PACE talks to Rockwell Automation’s Jasmin Perry about her career in process control.

Following the paths that open up along their twists and unexpected turns can lead to outcomes more rewarding than one could imagine. For Jasmin Perry, a job in the industrial automation industry opened up after a career shift.

“I had an interest in the automation industry, so I took an administrative role at an industrial automation and process control instrumentation company.”

Being immersed in the world of automation and process control for the first time, Perry discovered a field that rewarded her interest in customer service, while also having the technical complexity to continue to challenge her. Seeing the potential for herself within the sector, when a chance for advancement came up, Perry seized the opportunity.

“I was fascinated with the complexity of the industry, so when a technical support role opened up, I put my hand up and my boss saw I had a natural knack for it,” said Perry.

Moving from the position of sales administrator to sales support engineer, Perry approached the role and the requirements having had a background in the highly-customer focussed industry of event management. Perry saw the parallels in the outcome- oriented nature of the position.

“For me, it was that satisfaction of being able to be part of something whereby I’m solving someone’s problem. They’ve got an application that they need a solution for and I’m putting that solution together for them,” said Perry.

Perry was supported to study and gain knowledge of the technical side of the process and automation control field. Perry completed her Certificate in Instrumentation, Automation & Process Control while working, yet at the same time was acquiring in-depth knowledge through being hands-on with customers in their factories and facilities.

“A lot of learning for me has been out on the field,” noted Perry. “You’re learning something every day; the average inquiry comes along and then you are applying what you learnt the next time it comes around.”

The next step was moving to senior sales support engineer, which involved leading the internal sales team. Drawing on her experience and strengths, Perry trained and mentored other members of the sales team. In addition, Perry streamlined internal processes for improved efficiency while implementing SAP training across Australia and New Zealand.

As Perry was developing her skills and expertise in the industry, others began to take notice.

“I was with the industrial automation and process control instrumentation company for about six years and then Rockwell Automation tapped me on the shoulder. They were looking for someone to come in that they could groom into the position and I just happened to fit what they were looking for.”

New ways of approaching sales began to open up. With the support of Rockwell Automation’s training programs and by adopting their disciplined sales process in her new role of key account manager, Perry brought her passion for customer relationships and solutions to the fore.

“My role for me is more than just sales; I prefer to be seen as a consultant and an advisor, not just someone that’s selling something. That’s always been my mentality, and that comes from my customer service background, where I’ve been helping people,” said Perry.

At Rockwell Automation, Perry has been focussed on connecting with the customers of Rockwell Automation based in food and beverage manufacturing and original equipment manufacturers (OEM). In a field such as this, where tailored solutions and precision is key, Perry has been able to work with customers to radically improve processes.

“I’ve got some clients where I’ve taken them from having minimal formal processes or migration strategies in place, to developing a detailed plan and introducing Rockwell’s solutions and services to make their plant more efficient and profitable,” said Perry.

Working with clients on these solutions and services, Perry returned to her philosophy of being a consultant and advisor.

“I think, traditionally, a lot of people would see sales people as just ‘sales people’, but I don’t believe that’s true, especially with industrial automation. We’re not just selling boxes, we are solutions providers,” said Perry.

“We’re not just here to sell them something and then say ‘See you later’. We have an obligation and a responsibility to support our client in their digitisation journey, from being completely inefficient and manual, all the way through to becoming a profitable automated site.”

Earlier this year, Perry was nominated as a finalist for the Rising Star award at the 2019 Women in Industry Awards. For Perry, this accolade brought home the journey that she had been on from her first role to where she was now, and how she’s had to put herself into situations where she had to be confident in her abilities.

“It was such an honour to be nominated because it’s a challenging industry and over time I’ve learnt to not be afraid to speak up and to have a voice,” said Perry.

Being nominated for this award reinforced the successful work that Perry had done since she had initially put her hand up to move up in her role.

“I feel lucky to be working for a company that has allowed me to continually grow and expand my skills, so to be recognised on how hard I’ve worked and all the things I’ve achieved so far, it was a really big deal for me. It gave me that reassurance that I’m doing a good job,” said Perry.

Putting the skills and knowledge that Perry has learnt throughout her career into practice has led to a few large opportunities for herself and for Rockwell Automation. Perry recalled working on a large client that Rockwell Automation was trying to develop a corporate relationship with. With Perry’s focus on customer service and disciplined approach to sales, she was able to build strong relationships with key influencers and decision makers. Through these connections, Perry was able to introduce solutions and services from Rockwell Automation, ultimately establishing a national framework agreement which has led to Rockwell Automation being part of the client’s long-term plan to modernise multiple plants across the country.

During experiences such as this, and in the context of the demanding nature of the process control and automation industry, Perry has had to back herself on her expertise and perspective.

“Just because I might be new to a certain role and that person might have been doing it for five years, that doesn’t make me any less competent than anyone else, because there’s other experiences that you can bring to a role to add value.”

Looking back on her career, Perry highlighted that being confident in her abilities has been what has led her to succeed.

“Don’t ever underestimate yourself,” said Perry. “To succeed, it’s important to be resilient, confident and continually challenge yourself.”