INFLUENCER: JACI DUKOWITZ
Human Resources, Training & Development, Sales & Marketing
Ultra Machining Co., Monticello
UMC offers state-of-the-art precision machining and contract manufacturing services for medical, aerospace and commercial industries.
Hear firsthand from Jaci on how to grow apprenticeship programs at your company as she participates on a panel October 6 at our Minnesota Manufacturers’ Summit.
What makes a good business leader?
A good business leader needs to understand the power of a great team. When you are surrounded by trusted advisers with whom you can collaborate, debate and challenge each other professionally – great things happen.
What’s your favorite recent movie and/or what book are you reading right now?
Our leadership team just started Stretch by Scott Sonenshein. The basic concept of stretching yourself to do more is near and dear to me. I always want a challenge, and in order to continue my own career growth, I thrive on having big goals to work toward.
Who inspires you the most? Why?
As cheesy at it sounds, I aim to find inspiration from many sources. I try to learn something from everyone I meet! People have such great experiences and wisdom to share. I’m inspired by their backgrounds, stories and how they got where they are.
What prompted you to join UMC?
I actually accepted a consulting opportunity during a staff transition and never left! I hadn’t been in a manufacturing environment before, and immediately connected with the intimate, small company atmosphere. From the beginning, I saw potential and knew I had to be a part of it.
What advice do you have for HR professionals in today’s challenging environment to find skilled workers?
The game has changed, and you must stay connected with your industry and your business needs. In our competitive advanced machining environment, skilled machinists are a hot commodity. UMC is aiming for a dual focus: attracting new, younger workers and retaining our current employees. For more than 20 years we have partnered to identify high potential employees through youth and technical college apprenticeships. We want the top machinists from each class, and connect with teachers, counselors and parents. At the same time, we are focusing on retention efforts to keep our skilled workers engaged. The last thing we want to do is lose our trained, skilled workers to the competition! So we are getting creative with our benefits, training and career development initiatives as well.
You attended the Minnesota Chamber’s event, "The Hidden Talent Pools." What were your biggest takeaways?
Hidden Talent Pools was a great event. My biggest takeaway was the need to be more creative with our overall staffing strategy. To meet our business demands, we’ve got to look outside our traditional recruiting methods. It was great exposure to organizations that I was not familiar with previously.
What were your biggest takeaways from your participation in Leadership Minnesota?
HR professionals can get pretty insular. We usually stay at work and tend to the issues “back home” rather than get out of our four walls and see what else is going on. The Leadership Minnesota experience exposed me to businesses that I would never normally have access to. We learned about the challenges those business face as well as their best practices. I also connected personally and professionally with a group of rock star colleagues, and we still remain in contact – on a weekly basis – more than three years later. That’s been a fantastic takeaway!
What do you enjoy most about Minnesota?
The seasons! As much as I love Minnesota summers, I do enjoy fall the most. Don’t hate me, but my husband is a big football fanatic and I’m NOT. So while he spends the fall engrossed in Vikings, Gophers and Fantasy Football, I have plenty of free time to enjoy pumpkin spice lattes.
What’s your favorite pastime/hobby?
Somewhere along the line I picked up a yoga habit. I practice at a studio near my home at least 4-5 times a week, if not more. This commitment to meditation and yoga allows me to peacefully start my day with purpose and intent. I’m not good at it, but I love it!