The benefits of a career at LER TechForce
LER TechForce is launching a new blog series to highlight unique accounts of resounding recent successes. Every few weeks, we will shine a spotlight on an interesting customer, employee, or characteristic of life at LER.
Resident engineers Shashidhar Baichbal and Matthew Winter recently shared observations about the rewards of a career with LER, and the supportive, success-centered environment that define their relationship to the LER TechForce team.
LER TechForce is a different organization, and a much better option, compared to other companies who provide engineering capacity. We provide world-class engineering capacity and expertise-based solutions to our medical, transportation, and heavy-duty clients daily.
In addition, we consistently provide excellent support and service to the hundreds of engineers and technicians who call LER home. The way we treat our employees is vital to the success of LER’s proven recruitment process. Our engineering-first approach, reputation within the industry, and specific recruitment interviewing process enable us to hire and retain highly qualified engineers. LER’s employee benefits and perks therefore translate to better solutions for our customers’ organizations.
It starts with recruiting
LER TechForce has over twenty years of experience in recruiting specialized, focused engineering talent. This allows us to deliver the right people, with the right skills, to exactly where they’re needed. LER’s recruiting manager, Josh Barker, meets candidates where they are – whether figuratively or literally. He spoke with Matthew Winter two years in a row at the same university job fair, picking up the previous year’s connection with ease. Winter said:
“I was in grad school at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. My coursework was all done, and I was just writing my master’s thesis. Rose-Hulman was hosting a job fair on campus in Terre Haute, Indiana, so I went. At the LHP table, Josh was enthusiastic and excited to talk to me. We had a positive conversation that left me with a great impression of the company.
By the next year, I had finished writing my thesis and I was getting ready to graduate. I had just defended when I saw there was another job fair on campus. I went back, and there's Josh Barker again. I said, ‘Hey, do you remember me?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I do. Actually, I think I’ve got something for you, I think there’s something here for you with LER TechForce.’”
I'm really glad I went with LER. Because I've been here ever since, eight years and five different customers. And I love having these people, this company, around me. Even though I work remotely now, the team-centered, supportive environment is a palpable presence. Everyone here wants me to succeed. I know LER has my back in any situation.”
Shashi Baichbal has his own recollection of the above-and-beyond efforts of the LER recruiting team. “I interviewed with LER TechForce by phone at a gas station on my way home from another interview,” he said. His time as a graduate research assistant at Wright State University was ending. “As a student, I was just grinding,” he said. “I needed to get out there and get to work.” He had driven from Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, up to Detroit, Michigan, early that morning for an interview. During a stop on the way home, he sent his resume to none other than Josh Barker, who called him almost immediately. The Detroit interview had ended around eleven a.m., and Josh called him at two p.m.
“It started with that gas station phone call and ended with a career. I had gotten the green light from the other organization in Detroit as well, but some intangible sense told me I would be better off here with LER. I successfully completed LHP University, went to work for my first client, and everything started rolling beautifully. Everything was amazing. Maybe it was intangible at first, but it turns out there’s a very good reason why it’s so easy to trust LER TechForce: they stand by their people, and they do what they say they are going to do.”
LER is committed to putting people first and to the fair ethical treatment of our resident engineers. This starts with our recruiting staff and carries through to the managers and upper leadership team. Everyone at LER TechForce is committed to ensuring our resident engineers have the tools they need to succeed, to excel, and to lead.
The benefit of insight
Matthew Winter said, “I think some of the benefits LER offers turn out to be more like necessities than perks. They benefit LER and its clients as much as they benefit the engineer. For example, paid bench is a program LER TechForce uses to maintain their engineers’ skills and readiness while they wait for their next position. This keeps our engineers primed and focused. That makes them feel included, and ready to go to work.”
“I have first-hand experience of the paid bench, for example, and it honestly taught me everything I needed to know about LER TechForce right from the start.” Winter said, “when I went out to my first customer, the project was in a division that supplied off-road and construction equipment manufacturers. I was there for about five months, writing test plans and programming test scripts in the MATLAB programming platform. The project was supposed to last longer than five months, but around that time some of the overseas economies took a big hit, and that customer reacted to the slowdown like many companies did at the time, trimming back on certain projects. Mine happened to be one of them.”
When these markets bottomed out in 2015, reaching their lowest point in twenty-five years, the new construction market began to drop off as well. Ripple effects from this downturn continued to spread throughout the global economy. Off-road equipment OEMs and suppliers began to feel the effects, and placed some projects in temporary stasis to better concentrate on others.
“The global repercussions and the fact that it affected me personally made for a powerful combination. I shouldn’t have worried, though. I went to the paid bench, as an almost brand-new employee. For about three months, I came in and did projects to help keep sharp. That’s part of the point of the paid bench, so that you don’t have to refamiliarize yourself with anything when you go back out into the field. And, you’re right there and ready to go when a customer has a need.
Along with bench projects, I helped the recruiters with their interview preparation. It was useful to the recruiters, and the leadership said that was where I was needed.
Those three months on the bench were a source of great insight for me. That experience taught me everything I needed to know about our CEO Janene Stotts, and about LER as a team. I really learned from the inside how this organization conducts itself and how the leadership cares for its people. It cemented my sense of obligation and loyalty, as well. I wanted to show the leadership they were right to place their trust in me and give me that support.
It’s pretty unusual for a company to care this much and be this supportive of employees. My friends at other companies tell me there’s not always a lot of trust flowing in either direction between leadership and labor, but this place is different. After that bench experience, I trust LER to have my back in any situation.”
Matthew came off the bench with a fresh appreciation for LER’s people-first mindset, carrying these insights into his next assignment and further into his career.
Smart, nuanced leadership
An early event in Shashidhar Baichbal’s career illustrated that sometimes it is the intangible aspects of a company that make a large difference in their employees’ lives. In this case, Shashi had a delicate issue with a supervisor at the customer he was assigned to regarding management style. LER’s upper leadership not only listened but provided an avenue for a solution. This in turn gave him a new and more positive perspective on his role and the nature of LER as a top engineering organization.
Shashidhar is an engineer and used to solving problems, but the problem he was having couldn’t be fixed with a redesign or some new lines of code. It was a problem of personality. “I felt like he was micromanaging, and he felt like I was insubordinate,” he said. “My perception was that I was overperforming. I liked coming in early and really going at it, and I wanted to be free to keep doing that, but this manager wanted more oversight, more frequent reports, that sort of thing. We couldn’t reach an agreement.”
Eventually, the issue was elevated to senior management. He said, “I just didn't know what to say or think. I was new in the workforce. LHP was my first real job. I didn’t know how to manage a conflict with anyone, and especially not with a manager.”
The LHP senior manager provided the options for Shashidhar. There were two. With the exceptional work that he had done so far, he could move to a different client, a different project. That was one way in which disagreements like this could be managed, and that was his first option. The second option, he said, was to go back and find a cooperative solution with this manager.
“They gave me the option to try facing this challenge, and they’d work to find a way for me to finish the contract. I briefly thought it over, and I took the second option. My conversation with the senior LER management made me see things in a brand-new way. When they said, ‘face the challenge,’ it unlocked understanding for me, it shifted my paradigm. I suddenly understood the situation quite differently. If it’s an obstacle, it’s in your way. But, if it’s a challenge, I understand challenges. I wanted to meet it, and I wanted to show that I could succeed.”
Suddenly, there was problem-solving to do. “I went back to the supervisor, and I told him I would absorb it, I would take it, and do what he wanted. I was starting to think there was a lesson in this situation, something to do with my life later on.”
The two never became friends, but they worked together from then on to finish the project. “We were both trying to overcome the challenges and make it work,” he said. “He eventually gave me a good review, too.”
“That moment of clarity and understanding wouldn’t have come to me if the senior manager wasn’t up to the task. That was true leadership. Offering options is part of that, but bringing your people to a point where they take the leap and grow, that’s a leader’s job. Providing both challenge and support, as your people need it.”
Now, he says, after nearly a decade since that moment, “there were so many lessons in that situation. How to walk through the fire when you don’t want to, but also how to mentor people who are going through something difficult.” Much like that senior manager did for him almost ten years ago. “And, really, just showing a little patience in the face of a problem…solving problems at different customers, so many of them just required enough patience to watch the whole process play itself out, and then it was so easy to see what the root cause was.
Now, if people come and need advice, it’s very easy for me to give it. This is how it happened; this is how you get there. I learned so much from that moment, and from that person.”
LER TechForce is where nuanced and employee-driven ethical leadership meets with expert technical and business acumen. We employ well-rounded and talented engineers whom we then mentor, train, and develop. As they grow their careers, they learn the transformative skills our clients depend on for solutions to ever-increasing technical challenges. At LHP, we are engineered to help each other.