June 9, 2016
Patrick Deschamps, father of a 10-year-old girl, was recently appointed Vice President of Commercial Sales at Contact Delage.
While still a CEGEP student, Patrick launched a small lawn mowing business. As he worked on the sales and marketing side of his business, he realized how much he loved it. For the next two years, he worked at a car dealership, but his schedule was incompatible with his family life. Patrick then returned to studies in international trade.
In 2002, he met Contact Delage President Guy Goupil at a family reunion. Together, they discussed careers — a life-changing moment for Patrick Deschamps. At age 24, he debuted at Contact Delage in internal sales, and then was promoted to outside sales. Several years later, he was appointed Sales Manager and remained in this position for a little more than four years, until his recent appointment as Vice President of Commercial Sales. He loves his work so much that he’s already been a partner for seven years.
In addition to his position with Contact Delage, Patrick is President of Electro-Federation Canada’s Young Professionals Network — Quebec Region. He’s also a member of EFC’s Executive Committee for the Quebec Region.
This boating enthusiast and guitarist has welcomed many people into the industry and wants to continue doing so. “They join us because we’re passionate about it, we want to make a difference.”
Patrick confesses to never having thought of working in the electrical industry before meeting Guy Goupil, although his father was an electrical technician and electricity has always fascinated him.
Patrick has also observed that the electrical industry is seldom a career choice among young people, and this is becoming a crucial issue — a lack of succession planning and a failure to attract young people is creating a human resources gap. Actions are now being taken with EFC to attract youth. For example, offering tours of electrical training facilities.
Patrick recognizes that, once you have attracted people, you have to keep them engaged. This is partly why he accepted the position of Regional Chair for EFC’s Young Professionals Network in Quebec.
A tightly woven industry
Patrick describes the electrical industry as “close.” People know each other and are friendly and welcoming. Even when you meet the president of a big company, you’re regarded as an equal and called by your first name. You don’t sense a feeling of competition that often exists among businesses in the same sector, says Patrick. It all starts with respect. He jokes that the electrical industry is like the mafia. “Once you join it, you never leave.”
We are in an era of change on several levels, and innovations will evolve more and more rapidly.
According to Patrick, energy, energy efficiency and storage are crucial issues for the future of the planet. He cites the example of Tesla’s Powerwall, a battery pack that will enable individual homes and businesses to store energy and reduce demand on the grid. The cleanest energy of all is energy that is not used. Therefore, energy saving lighting controls and new light sources (LED, OLED…) will continue to change our industry. The development of power electronics and computing will bring profound changes to our lifestyle, and our industry will no doubt be an active participant, he says.
Given Quebec’s comparatively low rates, there has been less incentive to innovate here than elsewhere, but change is coming. “With these phenomena, our industry will become better known to the general public… and our workers will become increasingly specialized.”
Other crucial issues: connectivity and the Internet of Things, which are still in their infancy. With electricity an essential component, our industry will be even more in demand.
Once you have your foot in the industry
Without hesitation, Patrick mentions the importance of protecting your reputation. The industry is small, so reputations can be built and destroyed quickly. “With each new generation,” he says, “people are a little less attached to their employers. This is all the more reason for everyone to pay attention to their name and reputation.” He often mentions to his employees that “today you work at Contact Delage. Maybe in 5 years, 10 years, you’ll want to be working somewhere else, but if your name is dirt, it’ll be difficult.”
In closing he says that, “If you have any talent and determination, you’ll have a job for life in the electrical industry.”
Let’s hope that succession planning takes hold and we’re able to sustain it.
Laurence Rocher-Brassard is Editor of EIN’s sister publication: Le monde de l’électricité en ligne.
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