#SEGreatPeople | Charlandra Watson: Embracing Innovation and Diversity

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Risk-Takers, Boat Rockers and Bold Thinkers Welcome

Written by Charlandra Watson

A lot of companies talk about giving their employees a platform for presenting bold ideas and effecting change. A lot of companies talk about taking risks and disrupting the status quo. While that all sounds great, it’s often little more than a lot of talk. In reality few companies actually do this. However, I’m one of the fortunate few that works at a company that actually means it. And backs it up with their actions.

When a company walks the walk

At Schneider Electric, I love that I can be a risk-taker. I’ve been here for 5 years, and in that time I’ve been empowered to think differently and look at new ways to solve problems that can make a difference to our customers and our company. Most often that means thinking outside the norm and not being afraid to rock the boat.

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At Schneider Electric I love that we’re given the freedom and encouraged to make waves. No matter what idea I or my team comes up with, no matter how out there, seemingly different or new, our leadership doesn’t put it down. They are completely supportive and embrace bold ideas, innovative thinking and new ways of looking at things.

Schneider Electric truly does champion change. They understand that to effect change you have to be willing to take some risks. And no matter how senior or experienced you are in the company, you’re given the opportunity to really invoke change and be a part of that change.


Diversity leads to innovative thinking

The company also believes diversity is key to generating new, bolder ways of thinking. Schneider Electric is a global company representing diverse clients all around the world and consistently strives to hire more diverse employees. Employees here, though, are not just diverse in their ethnicity, but also diverse in their experiences. And combining all those different experiences and cultural backgrounds means more ideas, more unique perspectives, and ultimately more creative solutions for our customers.

I wanted to work for a company that had more of a global footprint. I also wanted to work for a company that supported diversity and would give me the opportunities to grow and be more innovative and creative. They set me up for success by constantly offering opportunities for me to succeed, to gain more knowledge and experience. And they have fully supported whatever career ambitions that I have. I have an electrical engineering background and I had stepped away from that a bit. I was really looking for an opportunity that would put me closer to the customers and give me more responsibility. The position that I have right now as Customer Satisfaction and Quality Director checks all those boxes off.

I work on process improvement. I’m involved with projects that focus on innovation and on developing new products and new solutions for our customers that are really cutting edge. The kinds of things that haven’t been seen before. I’m also involved with projects that really focus on improving the customer experience. We want to better understand the customer’s journey and how they use our products and solutions. We explore how we can improve that journey for our customers by coming up with even better ways to meet their needs and challenges.

My team is also focused on projects that will bring more digital competences to our breakers. We’re also looking at new ways of going to business or to market with the equipment we have. For example, how could we be leveraging the panel builders that are already in our market to become a new part of the customer’s solution?

Bold, new ways of thinking lead to better solutions

I am a problem solver. And I also need a challenge. I certainly don’t want to be bored.  Who does?  Fortunately, my workday consistently involves problem solving. It could have to do with something internally connected to our global supply chain, or it could have to do with issues out in the field with customers. No matter what, though, it’s exciting here every single day. There’s really no telling what’s going to happen from day-to-day. However, you know there’s always going to be something going on, something that will make a difference.

Some days I’ll get direct phone calls from customers; other days I’m a part of larger projects that are more innovative. What stays consistent day to day, though, is that we’re always looking to solve our customers’ problems. We’re also continually looking forward and seeking more innovative ways that we can make life easier for our customers in the future.


Risk-taking and mistake-making lead to success

I also love the opportunities that I’ve been given here. I love that I can step out on a limb a bit and take risks. And I love that I can make a mistake, learn from it and move on, without fear of being punished or disciplined. At Schneider Electric they realize that mistakes can lead to better ideas, the kind that ultimately bring about change. The company fully embraces that. After all, how do you know if something works, if you don’t try? It may not always be perfect; the customer may not always like it or accept it. But that’s just part of this unique, innovative corporate culture.

When I accomplish a big goal or complete a big project at work, it feels great.

In fact, it feels pretty awesome. And a big part of that is because I feel the company has supported and respected my ideas, encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and cheered for my success all along the way. It’s funny, I never used to think of myself as a fearless, dare-to-take-risks kind of person. But now I do.


About the Author

Charlandra Watson is the Customer Satisfaction and Quality Director for Schneider Electric.  She is based in the Franklin, TN office.

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  • Tam Osentowski

    3 years ago

    Fantastic testimony of SE’s culture. So proud of you, Char!

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