In the third episode of our CSIA Executive Conference series, Grace Clark sits down live at the 2023 Control System Integrators Association Executive Conference in New Orleans. Grace chats with David Chakmakjian of Jobot, formerly of Miller Resource Group, Keith Mandachit of Huffman Engineering, and Kyle Lednicky of Arion.
In this series, Grace Clark sits down live at the 2023 CSIA Executive Conference. Grace chats with David Chakmakjian of Jobot, formerly of Miller Resource Group, Keith Mandachit of Huffman Engineering, and Kyle Lednicky of Arion.
David Chakmakjian – Jobot, formerly Miller Resource Group
To get us started, if you could just say your name, your title, and what company you’re with.
My name is David Chakmakjian. I am with Miller Resource Group. My title is Senior Executive Recruiter.
Excellent. And so what brings you to the CSIA Executive Conference?
We’ve been coming to CSIA for quite a few years. I think we…kind of twofold. Obviously, number one is to learn as much as we can. The integrators that we work with on a hiring basis, they’re always doing things that are new that we’re not even aware of at the time. So, at the forefront of technology, of what’s new, manufacturers, wherever else they’re working with. So, number one is to kind of catch up with some old people that we’re kind of working with, but also new people and decide, okay, where should we pivot? Where should we focus on? Because a) it’s good for us to know, but b) then we can look for talent that coincides with what they really need. So, that’s number one. And number two, obviously, is to kind of spread our word a little bit. A lot of people we work with are systems integrators and maybe some people don’t know us. And here with a shift in data, with the shift in software, it’s good to introduce ourselves again, meet some new people, and of course, you’ll kind of spread the word of what we do.
Absolutely. What’s been your favorite part of the conference so far?
Two things I like the most: The networking, kind of the speed dating thing was a lot of fun. A lot of people, I think, don’t necessarily like to meet somebody fresh. It’s a little tough sometimes. And so this way you kind of force people to really sit down, describe themselves what they do, and you can kind of pivot from there and go different directions. So, that was my favorite part of that particular piece. And then I would be remiss if I don’t say that Alex Chausovsky, part of my department [at Miller Resource Group], gave a great presentation this morning on the analytics of what the market’s doing, kind of recession and things like that. I thought he had a lot of good points in there that show nothing but really steady growth for the automation space, including integrators. So that was a good thing to see as well.
Yes, agreed. Since he’s a part of your group, is there anything you want to add to what he said?
I think that pretty much that the key piece was the recession part of it. There’s a lot of fear mongering going on, and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of things to take in consideration to be conservative about in particular ways. But, I think what he really made a key point on is that recession is based off of a very simple criteria, and it’s kind of two downturns within two consecutive quarters. It doesn’t mean things are going to continue to go that way. It doesn’t mean they’re drastic or you should kind of shuttle up and go in a bomb shelter. So, I really appreciate the fact that he takes all the data, really analyzes it and tells us, Hey, keep doing what you’re doing. Obviously take notes, understand what’s coming, but really don’t stop, keep moving forward because if you stagnate, somebody else is going full force the other way.
Keep calm and carry on. Absolutely. And so looking to the future, what are you most excited about?
Wow. A lot of things. I think the most part of it is innovation. When I got into robotics and automation and controls recruiting three and a half years ago, I didn’t really know much about it. I had to really immerse myself, be intimate with it, with the clients, with candidates, but also the industry. And since then I’ve become kind of a subject matter expert on the recruiting side of it, and I love it. Just so exciting to me.
So, the innovation of what’s new, that’s what I’m excited about. What are they developing, what are they integrating, what are they using? Because, if you think about it, all the people that we’re helping and working with, they’re doing things for the economy. Manufacturing is huge in the US now, right? We’re trying to reshore distribution, fulfillment, and supply chain. They’re getting things in people’s hands they need, it could be medical, it could be pharma, it could be just something consumer related. That’s exciting to me to see what new things that people are creating and implementing and in integrating to help out with really what I see every day. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
Yes, that’s a good way of putting that. And then since we’re a marketing company, why do you think marketing is important to the system integration industry?
Massive. So, as a person who spends most of the time at LinkedIn, recruiting people and finding clients, marketing is key. I think we’re in a world right now where storytelling is so important, and I don’t just mean even trying to hire somebody, but I think it’s so important to get your message out. People want to be told a story, they want to be captured, they want to go past [the] fine little print, and they want to know who are you really, what story are you trying to tell? So, marketing does that in multiple ways.
So, I think if you continue to market the right way, you’re going to get so many other pieces of interest, so many people looking at it that maybe passed it up before. So, I think marketing is key to systems integrators, let alone automation or any type of thing you’re trying to sell from any kind of company in the future.
So, that’s all my questions, but do you have anything you want to add or instill with listeners?
Well, I just want to say that… what Alex said too, another piece of it was to find a good partner that you can rely on the talent acquisition side. It could be another recruiting firm, it could be somebody internal you bring in. But just remember that most people are very good at their function, whether it’s operations, engineering, management and those kind of pieces.
But, I think the key too is that you can continue to do your job so well and continue to improve on what you need to do operationally. If you take a lot of that hiring off your shoulders, bring in somebody you trust to build your departments, to tell your story, to market those pieces, you can continue to do things you do very well, and then trust in somebody that can build those other pieces for you even better.
Keith Mandachit – Huffman Engineering
If you could just say your name, title, and what company you’re with.
Yes, my name is Keith Mandachit with Huffman Engineering. I’m the engineering manager.
And what brings you to the CSIA Executive Conference?
I’m here at the conference for a couple different reasons. One, I’m actually on a panel later this afternoon talking about cybersecurity and digital transformation. So, looking forward to that. I’m also here – over the years I’ve made a lot of contacts through networking and just really made some good friends and so it’s just a great opportunity to reconnect and just catch up on what has been going on in the last year.
So yes, those are probably the two biggest reasons, but also, one more reason. So, I’ve always gotten a lot out of the conference personally. So, personal growth is another big reason. So, I’ve always taken a lot of things from each conference. And so this year so far has been nothing less.
In terms of the future of the industry, what are you most excited about or what are you most looking forward to?
As far as the industry, I’ve been in the industry for 25+ years, so I feel like I’ve grown with the industry. I started in the days of before there was ethernet and now it’s just part of every single project. So, just continually growing with the technology. And so I’m really excited to just continue to grow with the technology and to see where it takes us. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for more efficiencies, just making things really usable and actionable. Obviously, there’s a lot of talk about data in industry 4.0, and I’m just real excited to see our industry take advantage of the technologies that come along with that.
Alright, and since we’re marketing company, I like to ask why do you think marketing is important to the system integration industry?
I know marketing is huge for our industry, and that’s why companies such as yourselves and our own marketing manager, Kim [Shirk], they’re really the underdog in our industry. But as an engineer, I mean, I can tell you all about technical stuff, but it probably makes no sense to everyone else. So, that’s where marketing comes into play and being able to tell our story and make it attractive and make it make sense to other people is huge. Always people never know what we do, and then once they start listening and hearing the stories, they’re just fascinated. So yes, marketing, you guys do that the best.
Oh, thanks! Yes, it’s a really interesting industry, but no one knows about it. I sure didn’t know about it before I came into it. Well, that’s all the questions I have, but do you have any additional thoughts or comments you want to instill upon listers?
Yes, I would just probably really encourage people to just get out of their comfort zone and just try to connect with people. I see Peter walking up who I connected with last year and actually have really enjoyed getting to know personally and also just someone to bounce ideas with business-wise. So I just challenge people to just really… it’s not easy. A lot of engineers, we’re all introverts, so it’s not our number one thing of just connecting with people just out of the blue. But, it’s well worth it. And yes, everybody’s in the same boat.
Kyle Lednicky – Arion
To get us started, if you could just say your title, your name, and what company you’re with.
My name is Kyle Lednicky and I’m responsible for business development for a company called Arion. We’re out of Houston and my focus is in our automation and controls business.
What brings you to the CSIA conference?
We’re a relatively new system integrator. We’re building an automation and controls business unit, and so I’m here drinking from the fire hose, so there’s a lot of networking, a lot of best practices. And so, really as my first time here, just trying to identify areas and things that I can take home and implement and contacts and folks that I can network with to help grow our business.
What’s been your favorite part of the conference so far?
For me, probably the networking, getting to know more folks in this community. Too, getting to know what the CSIA can do for me and my organization from the marketing piece, or from the mergers and acquisitions or from the peer groups, et cetera, as I’m not very familiar with the organization. So I’d say 1) just the stack of business cards I got, but 2) key takeaways and things that in the future that the CSIA can help with our company and with our growth.
Looking to the future, what are you most excited about?
I would say maybe two things. One, just the crazy technology. If you look, I didn’t have a cell phone in college, I’m aging myself. But you just think in the last 20 years where we’ve come, you looked at 20 years from now, just the possibilities and the AI and the ChatGPTs now and all this cool stuff. So, I think from a technological standpoint, it’s just fascinating how we can develop those tools and continue to see that growth. So, I’d say that’s one. I think two is I think you’re going to see maybe some new players in the market as some of these companies have been around 30, 40 years. I think you’re going to see more maybe merging of companies and maybe new players emerge. And so just how that landscape looks over maybe the next 10 years or so, I think it’s going to be interesting to see.
And since we’re a marketing company, I like to ask why do you think marketing is important to the system integration industry?
I mean, I think marketing’s important for everybody. For system integrators, I think how you differentiate, there’s so many of us out there, like most engineers are, they’re in their brain, it looks good, but when they try to write it down, it doesn’t look so good. So for sure, you and your peers are extremely important, and particularly when you’re looking at engineers and people that aren’t maybe necessarily coloring outside the box. So, that’s certainly necessary. And I think probably as you look at just a number of SIs that are out there, I think being able to catch someone’s attention can be difficult, and having marketing professionals that can put a strategy and make things look pretty is extremely important.
Do you have anything you want to add or instill with listeners?
Folks that are on the fence about getting more involved, I would encourage it, and it seems, like most things, that the more you put in, the more you get out of it is kind of the feel I get. So yes, I would encourage people to join and get involved and join groups and I think there’s a lot of value in it.
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