In 2010, Jennifer was approached by our current Western region Sales Manager, Bill Yellin, with an opportunity. Our Northern California branch was growing, and we needed an administrative assistant to help us ensure smooth communication and make sure our clients were getting the best possible service from our teams. She happily leaped at the chance.
"I knew that Bill (pictured right) had the experience to build a fire protection branch from the ground up, and do it well," Jennifer says. "I already knew I liked the industry, I like being busy and I enjoy working with people with a similar drive to succeed, so I felt very positive about the opportunity."
Even though she's in her ninth year at ORR, Jennifer says it feels like just last year that she joined this hard-working team.
Today, she is ORR Protection's first female Regional Operations Manager, and a proud example of dedication to growth and learning throughout her career.
Jennifer's Path Through ORR Protection
In her previous roles at other companies, Jennifer had primarily worked with installation teams and very little with service such as invoicing, parts ordering and badging for technicians. Her start at ORR Protection brought new challenges in day-to-day tasks, and Jennifer was eager to learn.
"I worked with Bill to help him with administrative tasks, and questioned the technicians a lot about how they do their work, so I could learn best how to support them. Before long, we were hiring more technicians, and an additional administrative assistant. Our Regional Operations Manager worked out of the Southern California branch, and because of our rapid growth, couldn’t keep up with level of detail he was accustomed to with two branches."
It was here that Jennifer transitioned into a self-starter on our team and started demonstrating an immense amount of unofficial leadership.
"I started volunteering to take over certain tasks where it made sense to conduct them from a branch level, and I was awarded the role of in-house Project Manager. Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure that was an official title anywhere else, but it was fitting for my duties at the time."
Jennifer's role evolved quickly to awarded her more supervisory duties including the opportunity to get involved with the hiring of technical and administrative staff. She says that title changes were irrelevant to her because felt closely tied to the mission of our team and would do anything to accelerate our ability to help our customers.
"I could have the title of janitor, and it would never stop me from pitching in wherever I felt I could make a positive impact. I honestly felt like whatever I was working on was for the team, not for myself. If the team succeeded, I felt like I did my job, and so my day-to-day tasks ultimately did involve all aspects of operations."
Recently, Jennifer accepted a promotion to Western Region Operations Manager, which includes both the Northern and Southern California branches and the budding Arizona team. She already feels a sense of purpose and she understands that there cannot be growth without pushing the envelope and stepping outside her comfort zone.
"Whenever I'm feeling intimidated, I remind myself how I grew throughout my career so far, which is to ask a lot of questions, work with integrity, follow the golden rule and lead by example."
Exciting Changes in the Fire Protection Industry
While protecting life and property is the focus of our business, our ORR Protection teams also understand that being compliant with evolving fire codes is the standard by which we do our jobs. Jennifer's role is no exception, and she takes careful steps to ensure she's always on the cutting edge of safety protocol for our customers.
"I know most people do NOT think of safety protocol as exciting, but think about it, when safety standards increase, we have more awareness of how to protect ourselves, and we have more authority to stop work when it's not safe. In the past, there was an expectation to take care of the job and the customer, no matter the risk. These days we are not only allowed to stop work, but are obligated to stop work when there is undue risk."
Each day presents new challenges for Jennifer and her team, and there is never a shortage of opportunities to grow and learn. However, she recognizes that not every company has a clear-cut career path "laid out for you."
"I believe that you can create your own path. I have never seen ORR hold anyone back, if the associate shows the drive and desire to achieve more. After all, the path was not laid out for me, and yet I evolved my career by addressing the needs I saw before me. It might be an old concept that you prove yourself before you are offered the next level position, but I'm all about that.
If you want to grow, show it with your actions and the quality of your work, show that you’re willing to invest time on your own to improve your knowledge of your craft and use that to benefit your team."
Jennifer's Advice to Those Considering a Career with #JoinORR
If you're reading this post to learn if ORR could be a great fit as the next step in your career, Jennifer has some words of wisdom:
"At the end of the day, growth in anyone's career also has a lot to do with relationships. I like to give credit where it is due. I've had an amazing amount of support from my local team and the company as a whole."
And finally, it's important to remember the family-first values of our leadership and every team member at ORR. Jennifer would like to give a special nod to her personal support system:
"Last but never least, my family has been extremely supportive and understanding of my commitments to work. My husband Russ is in law enforcement with a very demanding and ever-changing schedule, but he’ll pitch in wherever he can to support me. Even my kids have taken on additional responsibilities at home to support me as well, and they are very understanding of my schedule."
Jen is a volunteer coach for her daughter Jasmine's cheer team.