Although Patty Keenan recently gained the title of Chief Learning Officer, she’s no stranger to Miller Electric Company. For the past five years, Patty’s role as an independent consultant has revolved around executive coaching with a focus on leadership development. It was through this hands-on work with senior executives that she fell in love with the values, mission, and vision that define Miller Electric Company.
Before Miller Electric
Patty’s path to becoming the Chief Learning Officer began right out of college in a customer service capacity at General Electric (GE). Within her twelve years working at GE, she rose through the ranks in sales, marketing and industry management jobs throughout the US, finally landing as their Region Marketing Director in Atlanta. During this time, she worked directly with CEO Jack Welch, won the Western Region MVP Award for business growth and the GE Mion Spirit Award for passion, energy, and service to others. As she reminisced on her time at GE, she particularly valued the countless opportunities in which she was a student of leadership while also developing her own management style.
Eventually, Patty decided the required work travel was becoming too demanding to allow enough time with her children, so she made the decision to stay at home with them for the next six years. During this time, she looked to the future as she evaluated career options that would provide her the freedom and flexibility she desired. Her sister-in-law’s role as a coach spurred her to evaluate coaching as a viable solution. She later obtained her professional coaching certificate and started her own business, allowing for the flexibility she sought. As Patty’s knowledge grew, she found working with senior executives was something very familiar from her time at GE. She was simultaneously teaching leadership courses at Stetson University when she met a mutual connection of Henry Brown’s, Miller Electric’s CEO.
Chief Learning Officer
Patty found that her personal values truly aligned with those of Miller Electric Company, particularly placing importance on the core value of stewardship. She believes, “Building on our legacy of stewardship, we will continue to make Miller a great place to work for future generations by creating a learning organization where everyone has opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally. Together we will embrace lifelong learning with a growth mindset: challenging ourselves to be open to new ideas and future possibilities while encouraging each other to learn from both mistakes and successes.” She was consistently impressed by our company’s passion for developing employees and wished to be part of the action, joining us as the Chief Learning Officer in February.
Patty currently works with nineteen executive team members on a monthly basis to achieve their professional goals. Her approach to executive coaching is to focus on the leader’s “greatness, goals, and gaps”. She has found we have tremendous talent at Miller and enjoys reminding others what they’re great at since she believes many people don’t take time to evaluate this often enough. In addition to coaching on leadership strengths, Patty utilizes the Leadership Agility framework, which includes Self-Awareness, Empathy (Other-Awareness), Framing (Communication) and Innovation (Creativity). She noted, “All four elements are important to becoming a great leader and manager. We talk about the distinction of leading people and managing processes. At Miller, we need to do both”.
Through her passion for coaching and career development, Patty assists in new partnerships with Valdosta University and FSCJ (Florida State College Jacksonville). These partnerships will now allow individuals coming up in the Apprenticeship program to combine experience with credit hours in order to earn two and four year degrees online at their own pace. This represents a small number of the countless benefits to Miller employees, including in-state tuition for any state, as well as book and tuition reimbursement. Miller has hosted two informational meetings including senior staff from VSU and we have 14 employees admitted so far.
Patty Keenan believes the sky’s the limit regarding future possibilities in learning with Miller Electric Company and that we have the people and resources to drive innovation within our company and industry. Patty also notes we differentiate ourselves through the values of trust and collaboration. We’ve spent a great deal of time focusing on client and employee relationships, ensuring we’re not viewed as a vendor or employer but as a trusted partner, and this will continue to be the foundation for our success.