By Rich Weissman
During my manufacturing years I always noticed that there were three generations in the workplace: a lower tier of workers who were either starting out or had some basic experience; a mid-tier with a dozen or so years of experience, many of which were in or aspiring to supervisory or management positions, and a third tier of very experienced people who were in the, shall we say, later stages of their careers.
I was lucky to be comfortable across all of these tiers of colleagues but I found that I would gravitate towards some of the older workers for career advice, a solution to a supplier problem, or friendship. Having decades of experience they were comfortable in the workplace and with themselves. I’d often refer to these people affectionately as “Pops”. “Old Timer” would get me slapped. And yes, there were women in this category as well, but “Moms” just doesn’t seem to work.
I have become Pops.
While I have another solid decade in the workplace, I am a mentor, friend, confidant and trusted colleague. I was recently complaining that too many people were coming into my office for me to solve problems and offer advice. Then I realized that this was a really nice thing and I became a lot more accepting of it. It is an honor, actually.
This came through loud and clear recently in my gym when I was counseling two of the younger members on their job searches. I had introduced both of them into my network and they were both actively interviewing with friends of mine. Here I was Pops as well. And it happens in my classes when I share stories from my manufacturing career or help them with a resume or mock interview. I’ve survived the corporate life they are aspiring to.
It is a bit of a shock recently to realize that I am a member of tier three. And while no one calls me Pops yet, my graying hair and decades of experience reinforce my membership, especially when the students or employees I am working with are sometimes younger than my own children. So I look back through my career and see a bit of Jim, Ron, Art, John, Steve, and yes, Christiane. All Pops, and Moms, in their own right. Now I am one of them.
Reporting for duty.
Endicott College Assistant Professor Rich Weissman teaches management courses for the School of Business and the Van Loan Graduate School. He is also the director of corporate education, which includes the Center for Leadership, Endicott’s management development institute. He is vice chair of the planning committee and also serves on the technology committee and the Institution Review Board. A practitioner turned educator, Weissman has more than 25 years of experience in all facets of procurement and supply chain management. He has held positions with large business units of Fortune 500 companies, medium-sized contract manufacturing companies, small venture-backed Internet startup firms, and third-party procurement, consulting and strategic sourcing firms.
Rich holds an M.S. in Management from Lesley University and a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University. He is past president of the Purchasing Management Association of Boston and a recipient of the Harry J. Graham Memorial Award, the highest honor bestowed by the association.
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