Ken Dunn is a Chief Field Engineer at FieldCore. He has been with the company from the very beginning, having joined four years ago from GE, where he spent a major portion of his career.
He took his first role with GE after graduating from the Maine Maritime Academy. He went from the manufacturing field into the Edison Engineering Program which allowed him to explore four different areas within GE. Upon completion of the program, Ken got a job in England to start up a coordinate measuring machine. He spent a full year working hands on in the repair shop.
The next step was a move across the ocean back to the US, to Florida, to pursue his next opportunity in repairs, but life did not go as planned. Instead Ken landed a different position within field services and it has been 21 years ever since.
Having worked in a plethora of different jobs within the field, Ken’s job of being a Field Engineer feels different every day. “You never know what you are going to get yourself into. There’s always a challenge, but there is always a solution too.” This is the most rewarding part of the job for him, working through issues, studying the equipment, solving problems.
For the past seven years Ken has been directly supporting Duke Energy as a Resident Engineer, a role that was created specifically for him. Being with a single customer for an extended period, having close connection, positive rapport and trusting relationship is unique and needs to be valued, according to Ken.
Even if you are working with a single customer, your work is never the same. This is what he highlights as the most exciting part of his job – it is highly dynamic. You are constantly learning, working on different units, solving various problems. “I like seeing units operate reliably. If there is a problem, I like to go, understand it and figure it out…when it comes to actual outages, start-ups, testing and finding a problem and fixing it, those are the things that I really enjoy.”
People are another major aspect that Ken appreciates in the field. “Field is a small world. Everybody knows who you are, if you are good at what you do. I particularly appreciate the honesty of the Service Manager role with the Field Engineer. I have a lot more faith in the service managers in the field because they were field engineers at one time, they wore those shoes and they know what it takes to be successful in the field. It means a lot!”
The advice from Ken to the next generation of field engineers revolves around commitment to what you do, the mentors you choose and the network you build. “You would want to find out who is the best in your field and reach out to them, try to get on their jobs, because you will learn a lot more, a lot faster. Get as much experience as you can from people who have been in the field for years.”
Additionally, it is crucial to learn how to interact and build trust with the customer, because you will be working with them hand-in-hand. Be honest with the customer and do not be discouraged to say you do not know something or you need to do more research. Sometimes you need to be direct to eventually deliver the best results. “I do not think that this is necessarily a bad thing. I know it was viewed as a negative thing when I started out…how can a Field Engineer not know something…well, there is a lot to know.”
Finally, you need to build long-lasting, strong relationships at the site level, because the field is a small world. By building a network throughout your career you make sure that your commitment, experience and reputation speaks for itself. Be ready to contribute to your network and your network will be there for you should you need help or advice.