It may be unusual for an education major to emerge as an expert in industrial automation engineering and marketing for some of the most complicated manufacturing environments in the country. But Kristen Barbour, Marketing Manager Americas at Pepperl+Fuchs in Twinsburg, USA, is anything but typical.
Mrs Barbour, your career path has been anything but ordinary. What has brought you to where you are today?
Kristen Barbour: In college, I majored in fine arts and history. In order to not become a starving artist, I changed my major to visual arts education. During an internship, I found that I didn’t particularly like many aspects of the education sector, so I never pursued working in that field. I answered a newspaper ad (remember those?) for a temporary job as an order management specialist at a leading global designer and manufacturer of wireless and mobile information systems. It was a position that focused on custom firmware applications for large retail customers. The position was actually temporary
THE AUTOMATION BUG
But things went quite differently, didn’t they?
Kristen Barbour: That’s right, I was bitten by the automation bug! In the company I quickly advanced from customer interface to working with the engineering team, supporting the development and installation of custom firmware. Working at that company eventually led me to a provider of industrial automation power, control and information systems. There, I learned more about software and hardware, and more.
Then, in 2005 I joined Pepperl+Fuchs as a product manager for the area of Process Automation. It was my introduction to electronics, and it has been a challenging and creative experience ever since. At Pepperl+Fuchs, I was offered some great opportunities and took on some challenges. And for the last five years, I have been Marketing Manager Americas, overseeing both the Factory Automation (FA) and PA divisions throughout the Americas region.
COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION
Given your extensive and wide-ranging background, what do you consider a “must-have” for a global tech marketing manager?
Kristen Barbour: While marketing doesn’t require an engineering degree, my daily work as Manager of the Marketing Americas team does require a technical aptitude and an understanding of engineering and marketing/communication principles to understand how our products and services support applications and solve our customers’ challenges. And the three most important traits: communication, communication, and communication. I take really good notes and have a good dose of empathy and a passion for supporting the success of others. It’s rewarding to see that my commitment has paid off time and again over the years, both in terms of projects and individuals. Many successfully completed joint projects as well as feedback from my team confirm to me repeatedly that I am making a difference with my compassionate and cooperative leadership style.
CONNECTIONS WITH PEOPLE
Eighteen years and still going strong – what are some highlights of working at Pepperl+Fuchs?
Kristen Barbour: Working as part of a global team is very rewarding. We spend so much of our lives working, so it’s important to find connections with people and common ground, regardless of the different cultures and continents. Many of my Pepperl+Fuchs colleagues have become valued friends over the years. I truly enjoy working with a global team, getting to know everyone professionally and personally, and understanding their unique skills, history, and passions. This benefits our collaboration, and it’s fun to work hand-in-hand and see how our perspectives/experiences enhance the work together.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Kristen Barbour: I enjoy entertaining and cooking for friends and family, gardening, traveling. Also I really like attending my two daughters’ sporting events.
Would you also like to become part of a company that offers you freedom for your ideas and exciting tasks? Then take a look at our career portal and apply!