Fluid Power Journal

Cultivating Success

Mentorship and Networking in Fluid Power

By Chauntelle Baughman, President and CEO at One Hydraulics, Inc.

My journey in the fluid power industry, initially as an inside salesperson, then an outside salesperson, and now as an owner of a fluid power distribution company, offers a distinctive perspective. Born in the “1900’s” rather than the early 2000’s like the newest class of potential graduates, I’ve had the privilege of sharing my experiences and the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way with students. Their boundless enthusiasm for learning and their determination to drive positive change always fill me with hope for the future. These discussions serve as a reminder of my own responsibility to guide and mentor them as they pursue the future they envision. 

Mentorship doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement. Throughout my career, I’ve been so fortunate to cross paths with individuals who have become invaluable mentors. 

Very early in my career, I had the opportunity to work with some incredibly brilliant fluid power professionals. But mentorship doesn’t have to mean giving someone all the answers. In fact, one of my very first mentors in fluid power was well known for not giving us the answers. He had a rule that he would help you find the answer, but only if you could show him where in the book or catalog you tried to find it but couldn’t. Without knowing it at the time, that mentor taught me to become a tenacious problem solver. It’s an essential skill I use today and work to develop in others on my team. 

Sometimes, mentors aren’t always there to teach you technical skills, but they help teach you the softer ones. Early in my time on the Board at the International Fluid Power Society, I was very reserved with my opinions and a bit overwhelmed with the prominent industry professionals in the room surrounding me. These people literally wrote the book(s) on fluid power. 

But during one of the evening social events, I was speaking casually with some of the other board members when one said “That’s a really good idea. You should bring that up tomorrow.” When I seemed a little stand-offish about the idea, he pushed, “You’re here for a reason. We want your opinion. We need your voice. Speak up.” That was a defining moment for me, where that friend turned into a mentor, and that mentor forced me to see the value in my own ideas. I did have opinions and ideas, and they asked me to be there. And while not all my ideas are going to work or even make it to a committee for discussion, that was the day I really found my voice. 

Mentorship initiatives can focus on leadership development, technical skills, or even just navigating workplace dynamics. The International Fluid Power Society recognized this and launched a formal mentorship program back in 2022 to bolster this very idea. They’re always looking for new mentors and mentees who are ready to expand their networks and make a positive impact.  

Networking is another critical component of empowering young people in fluid power. As the saying goes, “Your network is your net worth.” Building a strong professional network can open doors to opportunities, collaborations, and support for your entire career. 

Young professionals are essential to the creation and execution of brand-new ideas that are necessary for the next generation of fluid power solutions. We need people who can take real-world problems back to core concepts and use all the tools available to solve them, but with a fresh and innovative approach. 

Throughout my career in the fluid power industry, I have had many allies who have played pivotal roles in advocating for me and my career growth. Mentorship, while formal or informal, offers guidance and support, while networking opportunities help us connect, learn, and grow. By fostering a culture of mentorship and inclusivity, we can pave the way for more young people to take a place at the table and contribute to the success and innovation of the fluid power industry. 

When was the last time you helped someone in their career? 

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