Influence In The Industry – Aaron Evans By Jennifer Alanskas Our Engineers at InSource Solutions continue to influence the industry through the programs they provide. From helping our clients to teaching future generations, they thrive by utilizing their skills to help others. Because of this, committees are formed within the company to help facilitate these activities. Meet Aaron Evans, Vice President of Partner Relations and Community Outreach, who has been with InSource Solutions for over 30 years. His background and history in the industry have helped him maneuver the ever-changing environment as factories continue their digital transformation. While starting in a technical position, he focused on assisting clients in understanding the value of the automation software and hardware we sold at the time, such as operator interface terminals (OIT), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and solid-state drives. Through Aaron’s many roles, he has helped InSource Solutions navigate the industry as more of our client’s transform digitally. For as long as he could remember, Aaron loved to tinker with technology, bringing him his Electrical Engineering degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Aaron minored in computer science in school and remembers using punch cards to run computer programs. You would write the program on a punch card by sitting at a key punch machine and typing the program onto cards. Imagine taking a big stack of these cards over to the operator; who would run them through the mainframe? If you had the misfortune to drop your cards, let’s say you were in for a long night. As technology continued to evolve, Aaron saw the transition from dedicated OITs to desktops, laptops, tablets, and cell phones running automation, operational and analytical software. He was lucky enough to grow with the industry as it prospered. The way technology is growing, it is crazy to think that a Fitbit has more computing power than the mainframes that started it all. Looking back at where technology was, in Aaron’s eyes, these advancements will continue to shape how companies optimize their assets, processes, and workforce. As long as we can help clients achieve sustained results, you’ll see companies investing in digital technology. Every aspect of a business is becoming more digital. This is not just true in manufacturing but in every place, you look. “My favorite part of my job is helping people,” Aaron, Vice President of Partner Relations and Community Outreach, explains, “I love to see people be successful, whether it’s my children, my coworkers, or clients. I get a thrill when I can contribute to a person’s success.” Since Aaron has worn many hats throughout the years at InSource Solutions, he settled down with what he loves to do best, helping clients and his peers succeed. With his leading role centered around our partner relationships, he gets to help people daily. On a day-to-day basis, he helps facilitate our relationships and figure out how to leverage better partnerships that benefit the vendor, system integrator, and InSource. Aaron also coordinates our retention programs and leads our client experience committee. Over the years in his role, Aaron saw that the manufacturing industry was experiencing labor shortages and needed more skilled labor. As our management team discussed how InSource could impact the lack of skilled labor, we created an outreach initiative led by Aaron to develop an outreach program for future generations to gain awareness of STEM careers. As the committee formed, they started reaching out to the community and schools to help bring awareness to manufacturing and their career options. They introduced a manufacturing camp that would give middle and high school students a first-hand look into manufacturing and all the career paths they could choose. One of the extensive programs at the camp was our very own version of “Shark Tank,” where InSource would provide the technology, guidelines, and tools needed to succeed. The kids were great at thinking outside the box. We would get them thinking about how their inventions would be used in the real world, how much it would cost to produce, the price they would sell for, and who their target market would be. After giving them the criteria, the kids put together a presentation that the kids would present to a panel of experts, which would be the leaders here at InSource Solutions and our clients. The program was a massive success with the students and became one of Aaron’s most significant achievements with InSource. The program helped many students realize their passions and unite common enemies within their school. He remembers one camp that brought two students together who were known not to get along. One thing the camp would do is to pre-assign groups to work on these presentations and assignments. Unbeknownst to them, the team happened to assign two students together who, in the past, were known rivals. The teachers informed us that the group would need someone to watch over them as they didn’t want any conflicts to arise. Aaron took it upon himself to keep a watchful eye over them. In this camp, InSource provided Lego Robots that the teams would have to program to perform tasks and how it would apply in the real world. As the teams started to work together, Aaron noticed that the two rivals had different skill sets that benefited each other and the group. One was good at getting that robot to do the assigned steps, while the other was highly creative and thought about use cases. This program showed them how to work together on common ground. Teachers were astonished at how they collaborated, complimenting each other and having mutual respect for the first time. This program allowed them to see each other in a different light and acknowledge how much value they had. That team ended up winning the challenge. This program made a difference in these student’s lives in ways InSource had not intended, and for that, it has been one of Aaron’s proudest achievements. As the industry evolves, we ask Aaron what skills he believes are needed for his role today. While noting that many intelligent people are out there, Aaron believes that a competitive advantage is having a never-ending thirst for knowledge, especially in this industry. By having that growth mindset and continuing that quest for learning, you put yourself internally and externally in a position that allows expansion. Building a solid network in any industry is also crucial. Having a network that can guide you will facilitate your time and energy properly instead of trying to figure it out yourself. As the industry changes and the new generation enters the workforce, we see change coming faster than ever. Having the ability to adapt and embrace change ultimately sets you up for success. Aaron believes having a good moral character is the last skill that helps you in this industry and life. People will only want to be associated with or do business with you if they trust you. All that’s key if you want to have lasting success. As we wrapped up our interview with Aaron, we asked him one last question. What motivates him every day at his job? As we learned earlier, he expressed his love for helping people succeed. Growing up on the West side of Chicago was challenging for him as it was an extremely violent environment, and having individuals who helped him along the way changed his life. Aaron conveyed that he would not be where he is today without them. From this experience, he is motivated by helping the people around him daily to succeed. There’s a scripture in the Bible that he thinks about when needing motivation, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Aaron tries to give back, take what he was blessed with, and help others because others did that for him. InSource Solutions is proud to have someone like Aaron on the leadership team. He continues to show his passion in his everyday work and how he leads his team to be successful.