Each day our MD, Ben Reed will give a fresh perspective on HamiltonJet, the lockdown, or the world in general. Something to pass the time of day whilst in COVID-19 lockdown!
Today I would like to profile my all-time favourite boss! Dan Shoemaker was an American from Nebraska who took an international assignment over in the UK when I worked for the small engine division of Caterpillar.
My first experience of him was actually a bit negative. When he started in the UK he wasn’t my boss and I thought he was fairly typical of the brash American stereotype. As a Brit, there is something jarring about how the way this persona relates to a nation with a more reserved attitude. I thought he was a bit loud and asked a lot of dumb questions! However things would change about a year after I arrived when he was appointed as Product Manager for the engine range I was working on. I was in the ‘chief engineer’ role for a a major emissions update and I was not sure what this new boss was going to add.
However I could not have been more wrong about him. Putting aside his outgoing personality, he was just a joy to work with. Nothing was ever too hard and the way he supported me in my role was second-to-none. He saw it as his role to set the broad strategy with me, and then clear the way, getting resources, facilities and building relationships to keep people on the hook to deliver. He was awesome. And add to that he became a great friend and someone I really miss. He returned to the US after about 3 years of working together and I was genuinely crushed when he did. It had been such a positive experience.
But Dan didn't avoid the hard stuff. I remember one meeting he took a firm stance on poor delivery with another team, to the point where I thought he was being a little unfair. I challenged him in front of everyone once, and then again a few minutes later. He took the first one graciously, but I could tell he hadn't appreciated the second. We had a hard chat that afternoon. It was a Friday and we had a pretty heated argument. I stuck to my guns that I thought he was pushing too far, but he told me that I had made that clear, but I should have waited to later to talk to him. He felt I had undermined him in front of others. I went home that weekend sulking and stewed on it. By Monday morning I had realised he was right and I apologised. The fact that he was prepared to leave me to stew until I had understood his point was a master stroke of leadership. Something very hard to do with anyone, never mind someone you also considered a friend.
Dan was a great boss and a wonderful family man too. It was a real privilege working for him.
Managing Director - HamiltonJet