November 22, 2022
NEMA continues its Executive Q&A Series with a profile of Jack Nehlig, President of Phoenix Contact USA. In his NEMA interview, Nehlig shares how a positive outlook and saying “yes” repeatedly helped advance his career and shape him into the leader he is today.
How did you get to where you are today?
As to the type of person I am, I give all the credit to my mom, dad, wife, and sons. They have molded me into whatever positive perception people might have of me. As to my career journey, I took a “leadership by accident” path. I started in sales right out of college, and after six years was asked if I wanted to try a management position. I said yes. I then got my MBA and attended some great leadership development programs at Honeywell. From that moment on, I kept getting asked if I wanted to try another leadership role. And I kept saying yes. Then, about 21 years ago, I joined, Phoenix Contact to lead their U.S. operations, and once again, I said yes. So, I guess the moral of my leadership story is to keep saying yes to new roles and embrace leadership development.
What will be the biggest change to the industry in the next three years?
At Phoenix Contact, our view of the world is that we are quickly becoming an all-electric society in which the world’s energy production and consumption completely come from renewable sources. That vision is coming to life at a rapid pace. Green energy and e-mobility are two great examples of that vision and are causing massive investment in electroindustry manufacturing and infrastructure. Our country’s Infrastructure Investment and jobs Act and Chips Act also underscore this vision and are causing a re-emergence of U.S. manufacturing. If someone has chosen to be in our industry, it will be exciting times ahead.
What advice would you give to someone starting in the industry today?
Your integrity matters most. Work hard, be honest, care about others, and be true to yourself. Also, become a positive opinion leader. Bad things will happen. But people will always want to be around people with a positive outlook on life, and those dealing with negative things positively.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Be with my family first and always. I am also a golfer and water sports lover. We spend a lot of time in the Finger Lakes Region of New York at our small farm, and I love to drive my tractor. We also have a 1955 Chris Craft classic wooden boat.