In 2014, VMA's leadership created the Valve Careers Initiative to inform and educate young people about the valve industry and its lucrative job opportunities. As part of that initiative, we have invited young valve professionals to share some of their experiences in this challenging and rewarding industry.
This interview with Megan Johnston, program manager at Emerson, is the first in a series that will be featured at VALVEmagazine.com over the coming year.
For Megan Johnston, the path into the valve manufacturing industry started as a fork in the road. Upon graduating college at Texas A&M with a degree in industrial distribution, Megan had two very different options in front of her: working for a major retailer or pursuing a career in the valve industry. With her father’s advice in mind—he once told her that regardless of what career she pursued, she “should strive to be able to fully support herself no matter what”, Megan followed her gut and took the path that led to a nearly decade-long, progressive and robust career in valve manufacturing.
During her time at Texas A&M studying industrial distribution, Megan found the valve component of her curriculum the most interesting topic of all. “I loved my time at A&M and the [industrial distribution program] certainly helped me to develop the necessary skills to transition into the industry. Not many people can say that they’ve welded, lathed, programmed PLCs, presented to large groups of people, and developed business and leadership acumen by the time they received their diploma.”
Megan was unaware of the valve industry prior to learning about it in college. Her parents worked for their local school district, so there was no family history to introduce her to the industrial career environment. Megan admits, “Pursuing a career within the valve industry was a departure from the ‘norm’ that I grew up around, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Starting first as an applications specialist and then a technical sales representative for Tyco Valves & Controls, Megan then became a project manager in the Valves & Controls business unit when Tyco was acquired by Pentair. Eventually, the Valves & Controls business unit was brought from Pentair by Emerson and Megan became part of the Emerson family. Megan has recently been promoted to a program manager for Emerson’s Isolation Valves Business Unit. In this new role, Megan is thrilled to be facilitating a new product launch for the company, and has been meeting with members of Emerson’s engineering team to “finalize milestones and firm up deliverables” in order to launch the new product soon. Megan’s favorite part of her job is the people she works with. “I work with incredibly smart, talented, and driven individuals. I count myself as fortunate to have found such an amazing work family.”
Megan was eager to join the Young Valve Professionals group and serve as an advocate for the industry. As a YVP, Megan attended the Valve Manufacturers Association’s HR Workshop which took place in Houston in 2016. There, Megan had the opportunity to network with other peers in the industry, speak as a panelist in workshop session, and was interviewed on camera for VMA’s most recent outreach video about Valve Careers.
Her passion for the valve industry doesn’t end with her own job, though. Megan encourages other young people to consider valve manufacturing as an option for a career path. “There are multiple entry points into the valve industry that a young [person] could pursue. Sales, Engineering, HR, Accounting, Marketing and Operations…all of these fields need young leaders to make sure that the industry continues to thrive for years to come.” As a young leader herself, Megan is a shining example of how anyone with a determined attitude can forge an impressive career for themselves in the valve manufacturing industry.
Megan recalls, though, how atypical her college experience was. As a woman in industrial distribution program, she was one of few. She estimated only about 20% of her classmates were women. Her time was well-spent, though, as it led her to the industry that she is passionate about and where she made a career for herself.
“I started out in this business almost nine years ago as a young professional who had recently graduated from college. I took a chance by moving to a city that I was unfamiliar with and without family near to help support me along the way. The people that I have had the pleasure to work with have become like family to me over the years. We look out for one another and work together to make sure that we are successful as a team. I owe a great deal to many people who have taken the time to mentor me, as well as those who have allowed me to share the knowledge that I have gained.”
It was a combination of good timing, taking a leap of faith, and having the aptitude and determination to carve her own path that has brought Megan to where she is now, and she wouldn’t change a thing if she could. “The valve industry has provided me with a wonderful career path that I hope will continue to develop for quite some time. I know how fortunate I am to have found this path in life and what a wonderful experience it has been along the way.”
Jessica Bello is Valve Careers program coordinator for VMA.