Empowering Pumps recently began inviting people to Nominate a Pump Professional, and today’s Pump Person of the Week is Bill Skovsted – this is what he had to share!
Q. How did you get started working in the industry?
Bill: While studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin Platteville, I found Xylem (then ITT) A-C Pump at the job fair and took an interview for the position of Technical Services Engineer. The interview went well and the hands-on engineering position felt like a natural fit. At the end of the interview, I remember stepping out into the shop and my jaw dropping to the floor at the sight of a ‘monster’ pump that was running in the largest, indoor pump test facility in North America! I was looking at this huge, incredibly robust, industrial machine running on a multiple-thousand horsepower motor, circulating water in a swimming pool that is 120 ft long and 30 ft deep, thinking, “Wow! This is so cool! This is what I want to do.” I was hooked!
I worked in the position of Technical Services Engineer for 6 years, managing in-house engineered pump repairs and providing field service support for installations, start-ups, troubleshooting, and field repairs. I also earned a Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt, and from there, I moved into the role of Quality Manager; which gave me an opportunity to learn and improve manufacturing processes and provided a great overall view of pump production and plant operations. I’m 12 years in with the company now and deeply rooted in the pump industry. I’m back in a customer service role working in the position of Aftermarket Sales Engineer, helping customers maintain their equipment and increase reliability through engineered upgrades. Pardon the pun, but pumps “sucked me in” from my first interview out of college and I’ve never looked back!
Q. What is your favorite part of your job? What are you most proud of?
Bill: I’ve always enjoyed the travel, having a backstage pass into the world’s infrastructure, and helping customers. Pump service has given me the opportunity to travel extensively and work throughout North America, Europe, and Asia – experiencing the world’s diversity and cultures along the way. Xylem pumps are found in power plants, water treatment plants, and flood control stations, so I have the privilege of frequently visiting and helping to maintain the incredible infrastructure that sustains our modern world. I still find myself in awe quite often! Helping our customers to keep these remarkable machines running year after year, decade after decade, always keeps me engaged and excited.
I take great pride working in the pump industry because I feel it serves a greater purpose. We’re not just building a consumer product – our pumps are vital to everyday life; they are critical to energy production; they prevent floods from overtaking cities; and they supply clean drinking water. Every time I flip a light switch or turn on a faucet, I know there is a pump on the other end, and I’m proud to be one of the people who keeps those pumps running.
Q. What advice would you give to someone new to the industry?
Bill: I have 2 things to say: 1) Surround yourself with experienced peers, engage them frequently, and draw on their knowledge. 2) Get out in the field and get your hands dirty. I essentially spent my first year in the shop with a Senior Pump Technician who had been with the company over 35 years; tearing pumps apart, putting them together, learning the tricks of the trade, making mistakes, and learning from them. I couldn’t imagine a better way to learn about pumps. Take every opportunity you can to get your hands dirty. Ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You will learn more from your mistakes than from your successes.
Q. When you are asked about your career, how do you respond?
Bill: When I tell people that I’ve dedicated my career to pumps, I do so enthusiastically. Many people don’t have great visibility or knowledge of the many vital purposes that pumps serve in our society, and I jump at the chance to inform and educate.
On behalf of the entire Empowering Pumps & Equipment team, THANK YOU, Bill, for your enthusiasm and contributions to the Pump Industry! We know you are super busy as the Xylem A-C Custom Pump Aftermarket Sales Engineer for North America, but we look forward to keeping up with you through the #PumpTalk Community!