Where They Are Now – Kathie Leslie, Lutron Electronics
Senior Director – Sales Personnel, Lutron Electronics
What was your career path to get your current role? I started my career in Application engineering as an interface between our technical product and our customers. I then spent 8 years in sales and marketing. College recruiting and HR work followed and I’ve spent most of the last 20 years focused on recruitment, HR and training work.
What was your first job? I started as a marketing engineer at Headquarters in PA and Lutron provided me with a 1 year program where I spent 8-12 weeks in a variety of departments to learn the business. I then moved into a technical sales role in the Boston area.
Why did you choose this career? As an engineering student, I knew I wanted something people focused and I also loved the building and construction industry. The opportunity to work in technical sales with a growing industry leader proved to be a great career decision.
What is the skill that is most important in your current role? Listening. My current role is global in focus. Whether I’m interviewing candidates, facilitating change or driving a new project, I learn the most by really listening. I have to pay attention to the words and emotions and then ask the right questions so that I fully understand all the issues.
How did you develop this skill and how do you fine-tune it regularly? I had the opportunity early in my career to take a listening course. As our instructor pointed out, we have been coached on talking since we are young, but rarely are we taught how to listen. The course inspired me to focus on listening skills. Those who know me recognize that I love to talk so it has taken some discipline for me to stop and focus on listening. Asking for regular feedback from colleagues has been very valuable in continuing to develop. At the same time, I learn a great deal by focusing on what others have to say and I love the learning process.
What is your biggest career accomplishment? Being where I am today and having the ability to influence and drive the strategic direction of Lutron is exciting. As I reflect on the many things I’ve done, I often feel that the biggest contribution I’ve made has been recruiting excellent people to Lutron. Watching them succeed is very fulfilling. Many of the people I brought into the company have prospered and are now Directors and VP’s making significant contributions.
How many years were you a member of EACE? About 10 years
Did you serve on the Board of Directors or as a Committee Chair? I was never on the Board of Directors. I was involved in membership and conference planning. I co-chaired the program committee for the conference and especially enjoyed being a part of planning the conference experiences.
How did EACE help you in your personal career development? EACE was an excellent organization to further develop my skills. When I first started recruiting, EACE provided excellent programming to help me learn the basics of interviewing and college recruiting. As I became more proficient, I had the opportunity to develop and present programs. This was an excellent venue to practice and hone new skills in training and presentation. Leadership opportunities helped me learn delegation, collaboration, working across distance and how to engage and motivate others. EACE offered excellent developmental opportunities for me as a young professional.
Did you have an EACE Mentor or another member of EACE serve as your unofficial mentor? I couldn’t pick one person but there are many who were generous with their time including Tom Tarantelli, Donna Goldfetter, and Marilyn Mackes.
What is your advice to current EACE members who aspire to your current or a similar role to yours? Get involved! Take a leadership role. I remember being intimidated by the time commitment but on reflection, it was a fantastic investment with an excellent return. EACE was also a very nurturing learning environment. It was a safe place to try new things and take risks.