Fortunate enough to start a career in Silicon Valley in the early 90s in field sales, Will Jensen was always persistent in pursuing success, adapting to the changing circumstances. He quickly learned to modify his style in working with clients to match the different situations. He managed to leave a dent in the universe with his superior track record of success in organizational management from setting engineering direction, business development, strategic planning, product development, and operational management.
As the CEO of Blue Diamond Industries, a part of Hexatronic Group, Will focuses on providing HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) conduit solutions through its dedicated, healthy, inspiring workplace of staunch team members, manufacturing advancements, and plastic extrusion optimization. It is committed to enabling advances in infrastructure expansion with its HDPE conduit protection solutions.
Insights Success caught up with Will to get the know-how of his inspiring leadership, bringing a much-needed change in the industry.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Blue Diamond Industries. What challenges you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
As my career progressed into managing organizations and product development, I put my impatient and persistent nature to good use, driving the advancement in valued growth with several of the companies I have worked for. Although, I did learn very quickly that clear communication is the absolute key to organizational success and the overall success of the businesses I was managing. While I may have had a vision or idea on the direction of the business, if I didn’t have the organization’s buy-in, it would have been an uphill battle organizationally and externally within the marketplace. Articulating the vision ensured that the organization understood the importance of the required actions. Remember I said I was persistent and impatient, so I had to learn or figure out a way to get organizations just as excited or impatient as I was about the opportunities to create the most value and growth for those businesses. That forced me to improve on my speaking and writing to individuals or large groups in those businesses while not forgetting that communication is a two-way street. Similar to when I was in field sales, I needed to listen. Listen attentively to ensure there was understanding and listen to be able to address counter-arguments. Buy-in from the organization is key to influencing the organizational changes or evolution in driving a business into a growth mindset. I also learned to be very intentional with words, actions, and accountability, along with improved communication. It is intentional about celebrating the successes of the business and of the individuals in the business as little or big as they may be to build a momentum of achievement and that growth mindset throughout the organization.
As I mentioned, I started my career in Silicon Valley, and that is also where I also faced my darkest time from a career perspective. I was blessed to have a thriving career and rise up through different management roles beginning in the mid-90s. Then the early 2000s happened with the dot-com bubble burst and the shrapnel that impacted many of the adjacent markets. I went from encouraging a growth mindset and driving innovation to a cost-cutting mindset. I had to terminate friends that both worked directly for me and within the organization, people whose weddings I not only attended but was a part of. Team members whose parents and grandparents I had met.
For a period of time after the bubble burst, I became constantly worried about the money being spent in my business and not the value or benefit of the products the business could produce. But in time, I learned to effectively balance growth and profitability to be more agile so that I could lead a business through good times and bad. Developing an organization that could shift their business and assures the business’s scalability could accommodate the anticipated growth or potential retractions.
Additionally, from that experience, I did learn that while it is wonderful to be friendly with your team members or subordinates, I needed to set better boundaries so that the friendships didn’t impact my performance, their performance, or the professional aspects of power between myself and my subordinates. In addition, I didn’t ever want to look a close friend in the eye and tell them they were being terminated. Today while I am open to socializing outside of work and fostering connections, I have set boundaries for myself to limit those personal connections that had previously led to something beyond the confines of a working relationship. I once had a supervisor tell me, “It is lonely at the top…” at the time, I didn’t really appreciate his statement, but after my dot-com experience, that statement became pretty profound.
As a leader today, I approach challenges with a great intensity of responsibility and desire and will not back down from impediments and setbacks.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
We are leveraging technology to drive advancements in manufacturing output and quality. We are challenging the status quo by employing manufacturing, processing, and productivity from adjacent manufacturing markets to create market-leading advancements in HDPE conduit production. These advancements have led to the acceleration of output for Blue Diamond, allowing us to take on more opportunities. Our automation and the focus on optimization have reduced our production lead times while increasing our value and competitive position in the market.
Additionally, we have employed technology in our product evolution and the development of new products to provide the best possible protection with an HDPE conduit. Our utilization of simulation design models and plastic extrusion optimization delivers the maximum value in our HDPE conduit.
Blue Diamond recognizes we must evolve our manufacturing and innovation to keep up with the changing demands and ongoing disruption.
Digitization has given us the opportunity to reinvent our supply chain and optimize our total operational effectiveness.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for BDI?
I would have to say the answer to this question lies in what will make Blue Diamond successful, which is hard work, determination, endurance, resilience, and never giving up on the business. Today Blue Diamond is part of Hexatronic Group, which has made a commitment to support and invest in the people of Blue Diamond as we expand our value in the marketplace. While companies come and go, Blue Diamond has such a strong, deep-rooted culture and, through our products, enables the advancement of data communications which will stand the test of time. Blue Diamond’s commitment to success and our passion for achieving or improving the telecommunications marketplace will allow us to continue to connect with customers and meet their expectations for many years to come.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the business sector?
Play to your strengths, and don’t forget your own competencies. Make sure you have a purpose. The purpose will provide you with a compelling argument to gain the necessary buy-in and commitment of others, whether it is investors or your own organization. Use this purpose to align and identify a product or service that is either being under-served or isn’t being addressed. An aspiring entrepreneur should avoid doing what is already being done, whether it is a product or service. Also, don’t forget about the most important part of your business or organization…the people… your people within the business you have created. The culture of your business should be a competitive advantage, and it will ensure your business thrives.