This is a part of a series of profiles for Engineers Week, Feb.16-22, 2020.
It’s been about two years since Chris Taylor changed careers at OUC and he’s still having a tough time letting go of his former role.
“Think about it, for 18 years I was an electrical engineer, and now I have to put down that hat, which is hard to do,” says Taylor. “But I’m trying to do it. The transition is harder than I thought it would be.”
That’s because Taylor is in a job that facilitates the completion of engineering projects, including some he had been working on for years before being promoted to Manager of Distribution Construction and Maintenance. He now oversees implementation of residential and commercial powerline installation projects throughout Orlando and St. Cloud, ensuring field crews are assigned to do them and have the support they need to get the jobs done on time. There are a lot of moving parts to synch with, both internally and externally.
His experience as a Project Engineer complements his current position, he says, giving him a unique perspective of how each respective job responsibility impacts the other.
“Now that I switched seats and I’m in construction, I see how what engineering does affects schedules and coordinating everything,” he says.
Reflecting on his career here, Taylor offers some insights on the keys to success for an engineer: “Here at OUC, to be a good engineer you have to be able to work with customers, be willing to learn, be open-minded and be willing to think outside the box. You don’t have to know everything. I learned pretty quickly after coming here I didn’t know everything.”
Taylor describes “customers” as anyone relying on him to do his job. His former colleagues, for example, are customers, as are OUC construction teams and anyone else — internal and external ― connected with his responsibilities.
While his chosen profession offers a diverse career path, Taylor positioned himself for new opportunities by earning two post-graduate degrees he added to an office wall decorated with memorabilia from his college alma mater, Florida A&M University. In 2005, five years after getting his mechanical engineering degree from A&M, Taylor added an MBA to his résumé. Thirteen years later, he scored a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership through an online program with Colorado State University.
“It helps you understand change management and leadership theories,” he says, referring to the MSOL degree. “That degree has really helped me with this job. I got the MBA because I wanted to prepare myself for new opportunities in business. I am always learning. I think that’s a characteristic of being an engineer.”
Over his 20-year career at OUC, Taylor has learned a lot, particularly about his dedication to his job. While undergoing treatment for colon cancer in 2015, Taylor showed up for work “wearing a chemo bag like a fanny pack.”
“Work kept my mind off cancer,” he says. “I wasn’t focused on being sick. I was involved in some big projects then and I felt committed to seeing them through.”
Now cancer free and focused on making his latest career move a success, Taylor says he can see himself working at OUC “at least” another 10 years because “I’m still learning and I’m happy. When I’m not happy, that’s when I’ll change jobs, and I’ve been happy ever since I started here.”