About the Forum
This Week in IDEA | April 12, 2013
Setting the Standard for Success: Q&A with the ISC Chair Ann Jaehn
Ann Jaehn, Director of Pricing at Thomas & Betts Corporation, is a familiar name to anyone who has been involved in the IDEA Industry Standards Committee (ISC) in the past decade. Along with her work at Thomas & Betts, an IDEA Platinum-banded manufacturer, Ann recently added ISC Chair to her resume. Calling from Memphis, TN, Ann took some time to speak about her role at Thomas & Betts, the ISC, and what motivates her within the electrical industry.
What does your typical day look like in your current role as Director of Pricing at Thomas & Betts?
My main day-to-day responsibilities include overseeing the execution of the pricing strategy of each product line across all of our channels in the electrical division. I’m responsible for our data integrity, as well as the systems that support pricing and quotations globally.
Favorite aspect of this job?
I will tell you that no day is ever the same, no matter what. I enjoy working with data, I enjoy working with numbers, and I am motivated by making a positive impact on the company. That’s what keeps me going.
When did you first get involved with the ISC?
I first became involved in 2001, when I first got into pricing at Thomas & Betts. I hadn’t previously been exposed to standards, so they were brand new to me at that point. I’ve been involved ever since, because standards play a very vital part of the pricing and data integrity role.
Standards are crucial to my role, because I deal with data every day. The data that we touch not only runs our systems but also the systems of our distributors. The only way our industry can collaborate and do business together is to be as in sync and as automated as possible.
In what way do you see the work of the ISC impact the industry as a whole?
The crux of the Standards Committee is finding a way to make everything synced and automated, which makes it easier for manufacturers to work with their trading partners.
What has been your experience with the ISC thus far?
The best part has absolutely been making valuable friendships, both at distributor partners and with other manufacturers. We’re people who all want the same thing, which is the betterment of the industry. For me, the most rewarding part is the friendships and the people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know.
Now that you’re ISC Chair, how do you anticipate your role evolving?
As Chair, I would hope my role is to continue to encourage new involvement from many, expand the involvement to more manufacturers and distributors, and to continue to improve the B2B relationships within our industry.
You mentioned the importance of standards for both your day-to-day and the betterment of the industry. What is a common misperception of standards that you would like to clarify?
A major misperception is the lack of understanding of the benefits that standards can bring to an organization. Management does not always understand the value of standards and the resulting transactional efficiencies, so the resources are often not available to support and maintain the data infrastructure.
In that case, who are the types of people you would recommend get involved in the ISC?
There is a very strong core of IT and data-knowledgeable people involved, but I really think we need to expand interest and participation with more business roles, such as product and marketing management.
At Thomas & Betts, we’ve been successful by involving both IT and business management, who always work together and collaborate. We usually have at least three to five people at ISC meetings, typically split between business and IT, and that combination is critical to success for a company.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to do anything with my family, and I follow sports, particularly professional hockey and football. I enthusiastically cheer on my Pittsburgh teams!
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Italy is definitely one, and really anywhere there is a beach. Especially now; we were just at 29 degrees in Memphis this morning!
If you could meet anyone in the business world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would have been honored to meet Steve Jobs. He was a visionary and a creative genius. That would be amazing.
Anything else you’d like to share before we close our discussion?
I encourage both distributors and manufacturers to become more involved in shaping this industry, to volunteer, and to bring forth ideas or challenges that you face on a daily basis within your organization. You need to realize that others are often in the same situation. If people can work together and network, like we do on the ISC, we will make a difference in our own organizations, and in the broader electrical industry community. If you want to help develop the standards that form the foundation of our industry, please consider joining the ISC or a sub-committee!