Meet Melanie Hottman, AKA Mel. She’s Inductive Automation’s Director of Sales, but she hasn’t always been. Over the course of seven years, Melanie’s talent, leadership, instinct, and enthusiasm have led her to exponential career growth. Starting off as a Business Development Specialist, Melanie now oversees two departments and 17 team members, and serves as the driving force behind our ambitious sales goals. She’s a prime example of how working hard and helping others can lead to great success.
Inductive Automation was a small company of less than 30 employees when Melanie arrived. Today, we are over 100 employees strong, and she has been with us through three office moves and the success of winning business from 46% of Fortune 100 companies.
Get to know Melanie – read her thoughts on staying motivated, keeping up with an ever-changing industry, and how she spends her time away from the office:
How did you end up at Inductive Automation?
I was living in Southern California and I hadn’t quite decided where I was going to move. I had a friend out here in Sacramento and she said, “Hey, I have someone that wants to interview you for a job!” I came out here to visit her and to check out the area. It was a Saturday, I think and I went to the downtown office and interviewed with Wendi. Everything about Inductive Automation was completely new territory to me. It was like a different language, I had no idea what HMI and SCADA meant. I was looking for a new job and new career path and I was like, “Okay, this could be fun.” I interviewed, checked out the area, went back to LA and then got a call: “Hey, we want to hire you. Can you start Monday?” I literally went home, packed everything, got in the car, drove out here, and stayed with my friend until I got settled.
Your team has been thrown some very big goals and you all keep knocking them out of the park. What motivates you?
I think what keeps me motivated most is our customers. Seeing what they're doing with our software, what opportunities it brings to manufacturing, to different industries – that is very inspiring. There are definitely days where the struggle is real, but at the end of the day it's about getting the solution to the customers.
I also love my team – they're all very different, but they're all very good at what they do. There is something very rewarding about making the impossible happen. Sometimes we have targets that we have no idea how we’re going to do it, but we do. That is very motivating, the fact that the whole team can come together and do something that nobody thinks we can.
Of those team accomplishments, what do you enjoy most? It’s gotta be the wins, right?
I think it is. It’s the wins. Even the challenges sometimes, because you have to think outside the box and you have to look at the good in everyone, what is it you're trying to accomplish, and how can you get there, having to work that brainpower and figure things out. Sometimes we don't always get it right the first time and we have to go back and change things. I really like those challenges, I think I would just be bored if I didn't have that.
You mentioned that the members of your team are all very different but they are all good at what they do. What would you say makes someone a good fit for your team?
That's a good question. I think the most important thing is wanting to help people because if you can try to understand their problem and want to fix it, then you’re going to bring value to them in some way. That is what our company is all about, so that's a fundamental value that I think has to be there.
There are so many other things, like being a good communicator and having attention to detail. Caring is very important, if you care about your job and what you're doing, then you’ll do the best you can. I would say those are really the main things because we can teach them about our modules and processes and policies, that’s the easy part.
Are there any other particular ways that the company has changed in your time here that really stands out?
The size and depth of our customer base is the biggest change. We have our Fortune 100 customers now and that's a lot of responsibility on us. We still want to maintain that direct, individual care and attention, but it's so much more. It’s a lot more work, it's a lot more attention that is needed, and a little goes a lot longer. I think that's one of the biggest transformations since then – trying to maintain the same level of care as big as we are today is really important.
In your time here, have you had a mentor or a particular individual that you have looked up to?
I have to say Steve. Seeing his passion and how excited he gets, but also how he thinks as an engineer. I think that really drives me to share that passion.
I also look up to Carl and Colby – they’re young and brilliant. There were times that I went to them to bounce ideas off and get their input. They really helped me keep at it, especially when I was facing some challenges, just knowing that they agreed or that they knew something needed to change was like “Okay, I’ll keep at this.” They’ve definitely helped me along the way. They’re very humble, but they’re very good at what they do.
What advice would you give to someone who's just starting at Inductive?
I would say, learn as much as you can, do your job as best as you can, and bring value in whatever your strengths are because you will rise and opportunities will open.
There is a certain amount of trust that you build and prove, and once you’ve done that I think you can propose ideas, pitch solutions, and you'll be heard.
What's your favorite perk?
It's probably the game room, being able to take a break and play pool and stay caffeinated and hydrated. All of our space, being able to go outside and have this amazing view, those are my favorites.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
With my daughter. Well, I have two babies really, I have Stella, my two-year-old and I have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who is a handful.
We love going to baseball games, we just went to spring training. It’s on my bucket list to visit every ballpark, so we find any excuse to go to games.
I really love doing home improvement, believe it or not. I’m a big do-it-yourselfer. You probably wouldn’t guess that. Some people are surprised at the trades I do. I love doing electrical. At my prior job I did a bunch of volunteer work and I demoed and did all the high voltage lighting in a big warehouse. I had a mentor and if there were issues, he’d put me on it and I’d always find the bug and fix it. In electrical, you start with nothing and you do all of this work and it’s that magic moment when you flip the switch and the lights come on. There’s something I love about that.
You've been here for seven years, you’ve made quite the climb, where else is there to go?
I haven't really thought of “Where do I go now?” because this role is continuing to grow. Any way I could be of more help or service to the company, customers, or employees, I’d be open to that. We definitely have a lot of challenges as we’re growing and those are the things that keep me driven. There’s always more we can do, more I can do, improvements we can make, I can make.
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