Brad Dionne is the General Manager of Advanced Climate Solutions (ACS), a Helios partner company. Brad participated in Orion's six-month Leadership Development Program (LDP) to gain valuable management training experience and to hone his skills as a leader.
I had finished college and was looking for a new role. I actually went to architecture school, but I decided not to do that because of the massive amounts of hours you need for an architectural license. So at the time, I was working as a department manager at a home improvement company. One of my friends was working at ACS (he still is now), and he told me the owner was hiring, so I just kind of showed up for an interview one day, and it worked out very well.
I’ve been at ACS going on seven years now. I started off as a dispatcher, then I joined the client management team for a bit, and from there I went to operations. I became the Director of Operations, and then the General Manager. Currently, I oversee all the service, all our projects and all the field activity. I make sure the teams communicate and work well together.
My path here hasn’t been quite what I expected because it’s exceeded my expectations. I did not picture myself in the position I’m in now. I was promoted twice after Orion acquired ACS. I’m very excited to be a part of this company.
We’ve grown immensely with Orion’s help. We’re only getting better as a company.
One of the first in-person lessons we did was very strange. It was not what I expected. That was when I thought to myself, “This program is either going to be really good or really bad because these people are really going to push us.” I knew it would be a learning environment, but I did not realize how much of it would be emotional intelligence training. There’s a lot of self-discovery to be done.
The LDP facilitators play off each other very well. They set goals for the team, and whether or not we are initially aware of those goals, they become very clear as the lesson goes on.
And all of the people in the training – I mean, we’re all very much used to change, as Orion came in and affected our companies collectively. I think we just saw this as an opportunity to get on the bandwagon because we were going somewhere great.
I have done management and leadership training through online courses before. A big difference between those and the LDP was the amount of time put into it. We were meeting every other week, and we were also paired off in groups referred to as triads. The two people in my triad are actually in the same mechanical services industry as me, which was very useful. We had a lot to share with each other. I still talk to my two triad members regularly, and all the attendees of the LDP already have an event scheduled next year just to reconnect.
Right before our first in-person session in Chicago, a survey was sent out to our team members to identify where we had shortcomings as leaders. We then used that in the program to build goals for ourselves. I was pleasantly surprised at what my team thought of me. There was a huge delta between what I thought my performance was and what my team thought. That was very eye-opening.
One of the two goals I chose to work on was my caring connections, which is essentially how emotionally connected I am with my team. It was something I hadn’t really thought about. Most of the time, I thought work was work. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about a team member’s dog, for example, but it was that I didn’t want to hear about their dog during the workday. I’ve definitely changed that motto and gotten a lot closer to my team. I think we work better together because of that.
My other goal was authenticity; I wanted to be more open with sharing things that were not necessarily my responsibility to share, but that would benefit others to know, even in an environment where I might not feel obligated to share. At the end of the LDP, the survey my team submitted about me in reference to these two goals was very positive, so I was very glad to see that.
I had heard of the People First mentality, but this training program showed that this really is a big thing for Orion. It’s not just talk.
The LDP is a recurring six-month program for high performers to develop the leadership skills needed to take on more responsibility in our partner companies. The program pairs skill development workshops with peer triads.
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