Learning from Ramakrishnan

Today in Ireland, we visited the company Eaton. If you are like me and recognize the name but don’t know what exactly they do, it is most likely because they do a lot of things. Eaton is a conglomerate that focuses on providing electrical, fluid, and mechanical power. Their products are incorporated in everything between cars and light switches. In fact, they have 53,000 different products, so next time you’re around any type of product that requires power, look to see if some of the smaller parts have the Eaton name on them.

Eaton is a $22 billion company that most likely affects your life everyday, everywhere, whether you realize it or not. Obviously they are a successful company, but that doesn’t stop them from innovating and thinking of the next big thing. In fact, today we heard from the Chief technology Officer, or CTO, Ramanath Ramakrishnan that Eaton is over 100 years old, but the employees still wake up everyday thinking of ways they can change the world for the better.

Hearing this from Ramakrishnan, an obviously intelligent and successful business man, made me think about my own skills/strengths/characteristics that can help me innovate in my career. Probably the most relevant characteristic about me that is also a parallel to Eaton is that I’m never satisfied. I’m grateful for and appreciate the things I have accomplished so far in life, but I rarely look back. Even when I achieve something I really wanted to accomplish, I spend little time reminiscing about it and rather move on to the next goal/challenge. There will always be more to achieve, and having employees with that mindset has helped make Eaton into the giant they are today.

The second characteristic that will help me be innovative in my career is my naturally curious tendencies. Similar to Ramakrishnan, since a child I have always wanted to find out how things worked. Not only did I ask a lot of questions, but my parents would often come into my room and observe me taking something apart and putting it back together. I’m not talking about Legos either, I mean complex things such as laptops. I think that a curious personality is a necessity to being able to innovate, and the people who are more curious will also do better than others in their career.

This brings me to something I wish to work on within the next couples years to help better increase my success. Out of all things, I would say communication is my main focus. Being able to communicate well is one of the few skills that apply to every major and can be the difference between success and failure in projects, jobs, and careers. I have been working on this skill, especially over my college career, but it can always be improved upon, especially because I’m not the best at explaining things. For example, I do pretty well in math. Over the years, many friends and peers have asked me to help them by explaining something. I know the material, and I can picture the process in my head, but I don’t always know how to effectively put it into words.

Another key skill I am trying to improve upon is my listening ability. During long conversations, especially involving things such as powerpoints, I often zone out at least a couple times. This can leave me in an ignorant and embarrassing situation. To improve upon this, I just have to remind myself to actively listen to the speaker, and also comprehend what they are saying instead of just hearing it.

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