In competitive markets, candidates and employees seek purposeful work, engaged leaders and challenging workloads. This was no different for Juan Pastrana when he graduated from Kansas State University in 2015 with a degree in architectural engineering. Before graduating, Juan heard nightmarish stories about disengaged bosses and mundane work environments where people rushed to leave at 5:00 pm. However, he optimistically chose EXP, leaving Kansas behind for a career as an electrical designer in Glendale.

Matthew Schoenherr was waiting for his new employee. With 15 years of electrical engineering experience, Matt was well-versed in EXP’s dynamic environment and ready to coach Juan to excel in a challenging but exciting career at EXP. Prior to his arrival, Matt had been at EXP’s Orlando office working on his unofficial mentorship skills, before setting off to the West Coast to implement them.

Matt is known for cultivating an environment where everyone can climb building blocks towards success and he planned to do the same for Juan. He implemented the well-received learning style of coaching and helped Juan refine his acquired skills and execute them on real-world projects.

But a coach knows that the job is not just the work, it’s also like feeling like part of the team. So, Matt introduced Juan to his new colleagues and their close-knit culture welcomed him. After weeks of walking him through his work environment, EXP processes and dynamic entertainment projects he would work on, Matt let Juan experience the thrills an electrical designer comes to enjoy while working for entertainment clients. Thrills that were sometimes up and sometimes down, but always worthwhile.

In their fast-paced environment, Juan had to learn quickly but methodically. His team members across North America exceeded clients’ expectations with their expansive imaginations for the user experience and project requirements. To do this himself, Juan trusted Matt to walk him through project milestones, overcoming obstacles and achieving success. Juan trusted Matt’s management style because Matt gained his experience working on complex projects as an electrical engineer, delivering clients innovative solutions for 15 years. Matt was coaching Juan to have the same impactful career and together they worked on projects, including themed entertainment events in galaxies near and far, and zoos offering safe havens to wild animals. Alongside their team, they carefully listened to their clients’ requests, executed meticulous solutions for electrical systems and applied comprehensive quality control. Exceeding clients’ needs does not come naturally, it must be taught, learned and experienced.

Matt taught, step-by-step and Juan learned, day-by-day. Matt knew firsthand the importance of mentorship. He noted, “As a young engineer, I remember the misconception that no one else could do a project better than you could. Working with great leaders at EXP who trusted each other’s work, I saw solutions to complex issues. This taught me to transform the traditional thinking process and coach my employees to work together as a team. As a coach, I am here to take their skills and elevate them to the next level.”

Juan now looks back and laughs at thinking about how he could have had a nightmarish boss. Instead, he gained a mentor, coach and friend.

Mentor: Matthew Schoenherr, PE | Senior Electrical Engineer | Glendale, CA
Mentee: Juan Pastrana | Electrical Designer | Glendale, CA

*Originally published in EXP’s Expresso: Mentorship