Re-Engineered

A few years ago, I had been restless for a change at my job. And after 21 years in the engineering department – doing structural design & detailing of heavy equipment – I was granted my wish. I was moved over to applications engineering instead, which is a part of our sales department. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the applications side of the mining and aggregate business, and have been enjoying learning new things.

There is so much to learn, but with my background and longevity with the company, it has come fairly easily. One of my co-workers compared applications to working in a triage and indeed it is chaos. There have been customers who call, needing drawings. Or they’re having problems in the field that need research and troubleshooting. There are salesmen needing quotes on custom orders, with short deadlines that could make or break a deal. There is travel required to meet customers and work out details of orders or to measure existing equipment to be retrofitted. There are margin reports to write and contracts to spell out, plant layouts to create, vendors to contact and shipments to manage. A robust and varied position to be sure.

But… even after nearly two years in applications, when people have asked me what I do, I still found myself answering: “I design mining equipment.” I couldn’t bring myself to admit I worked in sales. I’m not embarrassed, it just didn’t feel right to say it. I have yet to feel completely at home in the applications department, despite working with fantastic people and having one of the best bosses in the company. I just didn’t feel confident in my abilities to be competitive in the sales arena. Of course, that will change with experience but I had been praying for some sort of direction from God, because I wanted to use my mind for more than calculating pricing and writing contracts. Where do I fit in?

This past week I was approached by both my current boss and my former boss to come with them to a conference room. Uh-oh. I was a bit nervous as we sat down and one of them closed the door. Click. It turns out I was being reassigned to engineering again, albeit (possibly) temporarily. They need help and I was told it could be six weeks or it could be a year. I will still keep a some of my applications duties, but I will be in engineering once again. Can I say that I’m exciterated? (Excited and exhilarated, FYI)

This change got me thinking about how often times we believe the grass is greener on the other side. I believe that the grass isn’t necessarily greener, but perhaps different. Like maybe that grass comes in different shades, a different texture, or different rate of growth. Neither good nor bad. And so, I go back to engineering, the career I knew I wanted to be in since the 8th grade, my calling. Yet I’m still left wanting to learn more of the inner details of the applications side, how to design a plant for mining capacities and sizing the rock, to travel, to interact. A conflict of two desires. Can’t I have the best of both?

I don’t know how things will play out, life has been a maze of crazy twists and turns this past year. I’m waiting (and praying) to turn a corner and come out in a new valley of green, after traveling the dry, dusty road I’ve been on as of late, having left behind the green valleys of the past.

This somewhat hybrid position is one I think I will really enjoy. I hope these changes will get me a little closer to a position that will bring back the passion I once had for my job. Just like there are seasons in life, part of that is also seasons in a career, and I pray that the restlessness that I’ve felt for so long is finally quenched with this latest change.

There has been some reorganization at my workplace, and this new change back to an old position brings me challenge and eagerness to kick butt for the company. For now, I’ve a feeling I’m back where I belong.

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