And shares 3 of her secrets to success
December 6, 2023
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Our friend and former long-time Cooper Lighting Solutions colleague received a tremendous award at this year’s Street and Area Lighting Conference (SALC): Becky Rainer was honored with the 2023 IES SALC Lifetime Service Award.
The award is given to those individuals who’ve continually given their time and talents in support of the lighting industry.
Becky has been a passionate advocate for the lighting industry, actively participating in numerous lighting-related organizations, working with government officials and others to help ensure the lighting industry is treated fairly in new legislation, and she’s appeared as an expert witness in legal cases related to lighting products.
And that’s in addition to a very successful, decades-long career at Cooper Lighting Solutions where Becky served in many roles, including sales, engineering, marketing, and new product development.
Recently, Becky recently shared with us three of the things that drove her career success.
1. If you’re working with someone you don’t get along with, don’t let that person define your career.
In her first position at Cooper Lighting Solutions, Becky worked with at least one man who didn’t think there was a place for women in lighting beyond assisting men.
She started in the Warranty (a.k.a. Complaint) Department. Becky was tasked with taking phone calls and identifying customers’ issues, researching all the relevant information, then handing off the project to the men who returned the customers’ calls and resolved their issues.
It didn’t take long for Becky to realize she could be doing the job the men were doing.
“I wasn’t one to just sit back and not even try,” says Becky.
With no shortage of initiative, Becky started talking to Cooper Lighting Solutions employees in manufacturing, engineering, and customer service to “get to the root of the customers’ problems.” She learned all about the products customers were calling about to the Warranty Department.
Then, she took initiative again. “Instead of handing the problems off to the guys, I took it upon myself to start solving customers’ problems.”
One man was so miffed he threatened to quit. But Becky did such a great job, her boss encouraged her to keep with it (he was much more open to women in lighting than the fellow who threatened to quit).
Becky’s career trajectory continued upward from there.
When the lighting industry and the dark-sky movement were butting heads, Becky saw an opportunity and seized it. She became a lifetime member of the International Dark-Sky Association to better understand the group’s goals.
It was a bold and brave move considering the organization and the lighting industry seemed to be at opposite ends of the dark-sky issue. Becky persevered and she listened. She listened to “the other side” to learn their pain points and find common ground with a movement that, at the time, wanted to eliminate all nighttime lighting.
Ultimately, Becky was involved in helping the Dark-Sky Association craft a model of dark-sky legislation. Of course, compromises had to be made, but through Becky the lighting industry had a voice at the table and the model legislation was not as extreme – or hurtful to the lighting industry – as it might have been.
3. At some point, you’ll be asked to do something that’s not your job. Seize the opportunity.
Becky embraced new challenges and often took advantage of opportunities that advanced her career.
One of her biggest accomplishments came during a product recall. As part of her job, Becky collected quotes for removing the recalled product and replacing it with new product in locations across the country. The best quote was for $250,000.
Becky thought she could do better. So, she put together her own quote – and walked it to the company president’s office.
“I can get the whole thing done for $175,000,” Becky explained to the president.
Becky’s reputation for getting things done had preceded her and the president gave her the project to complete.
Becky borrowed four people from the factory, hired two linemen, and rented two bucket trucks. They travelled cross-country and finished in just six months. And, with Becky managing the project, they got the job done for less than Becky had quoted: $167,000.
Bonus Tip from Becky
Share your knowledge with the next generation – and learn from them. “If you’re lucky enough to have a really long career, you’ll work for someone younger and less experienced than you,” Becky says. “Always embrace that and teach them. I guarantee, you’ll learn from them, too.”
And for those just entering the lighting industry, Becky recommends you “step out of your box and get engaged.”