Jennifer Paukert, Vice President, Sales, Master Electronics
In her role as vice president of sales for Master Electronics, Jennifer Paukert is responsible for overseeing Master’s sales efforts and business development strategies. Prior to this position, she served as regional sales director for the Central region of the United States. She joined Master in 2011 as a field sales account manager and has since held a variety of sales roles throughout the years including direct responsibility for Master’s top customers, as well as running Master’s value-added manufacturing division.
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
I believe inclusivity starts at the top and the founders of Master Electronics have elevated women since the very beginning of the company over 50 years ago. It was then where the core values of the company we established and are built into every aspect of our hiring, onboarding, and review process to this day. The core values are “we care, we are dedicated and loyal, we are entrepreneurial, and we are visionary thinking.” As the company scales, the importance of diversity of thought and ideas become even more relevant and beneficial. I was fortunate to curate and sponsor our first Employee Resource Group, Women at Master, which sole purpose is to advocate, develop and empower the woman at our company. No matter what gender, race, background, every person has a voice and is empowered to use it and execute on their idea. With over 50% of our employees being female, this type of curated environment is especially empowering to be a part of as a female in a primarily male-dominated industry.
Describe a recent company project (in which you were involved) that went particularly well. How did you and your team go about ensuring success?
There is no question the trade war between the US and China has heavily impacted the electronics industry. When tariffs first rolled out, there was a lot of uncertainty within the component distribution industry on how to address tariffs with our customers. After re-evaluating our initial strategy and determining a course correction was needed, I was faced with spearheading the change both internally and externally. Everything from internal programming enhancements to training, to external messaging, was needed. Every internal business unit was affected on some level. I started by uniting everyone around the common goal, identifying the problems and all possible solutions. I had to learn to speak the programming language and set regular check-ins with all BUs to assure the project was moving forward. We tested our changes for all potential breaks and tested again and again. When is was time to go live, all internal businesses were trained on our strategy changes and process changes. We were able to go live with no disruptions to our customers or internal processes while solving a massive business problem. Collaboration, alignment, organization, and a great team of people were key to the success of this project.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
My father is a retired engineer who spent his working years in the defense industry designing highly classified artillery vehicles for the military. He would bring us to work every so often where I found myself becoming extremely curious about the way products are manufactured. Unfortunately, my attention span at a young age would get bored of his drawn-out stories about where electricity came from but as I got older my curiosity returned and evolved into a career working with countless engineers helping to design and source components for a multitude of industries. I joke with him to this day about irony and how things in life sometimes come full circle.
Describe your biggest career challenge. How did you solve it — or what was the outcome or lesson learned?
The biggest challenge in my career came when I was promoted to a regional manager position with new responsibility for several older and more tenured male leaders. My experience and abilities were called into question, both directly and indirectly, simply on the basis of gender and age. I knew I had some work to do. I approached my new team by first seeking to understand their areas of struggle and how I could support them, keeping any conversation of experience a non-component. By understanding their pain points, I was able to dig in, go to bat, and fix a few broken processes/misalignments for each of my team members. Being able to provide quick wins to my new team garnered respect and alignment that holds true today. My biggest lesson learned was a little alignment goes a long way.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
If I could tell anything to my younger self, one thing would be to try to understand my “superpower” as soon as possible and harness it to the best of my ability. It’s taken me many years to discover my superpower is my energy and the way I can harness it to bring out the best in those around me. The second thing I would tell my younger self is to not make assumptions about how I need to act in order to be successful. I always assumed with increasing leadership roles that I needed to act sterner, less empathetic, and less authentic. Instead, the ultimate truth to my success and happiness has been the opposite and to be exactly who I am.
Filed Under: Women in Engineering