Tammy Miller, Alumni Leading Our Community
CEO & Board Chair, Border States Electric Supply
Accounting & MBA
"A good leader is someone who can inspire his or her team to do more then what was ever thought possible. Always give people something more than they expect."
How well did MSUM prepare you for your career and to be the leader you are today?
MSUM prepared me very well for four this leadership role. I have an undergraduate degree in accounting that gave me great baseline business experience and background. Then I completed an MBA that gave me exposure to other areas that I didn’t have before, such as human resources, marketing and strategic planning, as well as other projects and experiences that helped with time management and team building.
When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
If I was in a hiring situation and had two equally qualified candidates, I would hire the candidate that brings some diversity to our organization. I think diversity is important in any organization, and unfortunately in our industry there is very little diversity.
What can leaders learn from their failures?
Leaders can learn so much from failure. I often see people who haven’t had significant failures in their life and I think that’s a problem because they obviously haven’t taken enough risk and they haven’t had an opportunity to learn from it. Our company sets very aggressive goals because we like to win, and I do hold people accountable as we work toward those goals, but it does not mean we can't have failure. Failure is certainly an option as long as we learn from it, move forward and can be better because of it.
What is the toughest career decision you’ve had to make?
I’ve made a lot of tough decisions during the couple of recessions I've been through with this company. When you have to ask employees to take a pay cut or work fewer hours, that's really hard. And we've also made investment mistakes – invested in something that hasn’t generated the return that we wanted. But I think from every opportunity that didn't turn out the way we expected, we’ve learned and we’ve become better because of it.
What do you see for the future of your company?
We have a very well defined strategic plan at Border States, and our next big goal is to be a $2 billion sales organization by March 31, 2017. We are well on our path to achieving that goal so we are setting forth a new strategic plan this summer. We need to continue to grow to offer value-added services to our customers, to give our employee owners a good return on their investment, and to give back to the communities where we live and work.