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Brilliant People of Omaha: Steve Kaniewski, Group President, Valmont

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Steve Kaniewski is the Group President of the utilities division at Valmont Industries. Valmont is the supplier of a wide range of infrastructure products including everything from center pivot irrigation machines to traffic lighting to utility poles.

Steve is also the the Vice Chair of our AIM board of directors. He has been involved with AIM for nearly four years and understands that technology is crucial to growing the business community and furthering careers.

This week we caught up with Steve over the phone to talk about Omaha, the energy industry and his best advice to jobseekers.

 

AIM: What would you say is the best perk of working in the energy/infrastructure industry?

SK: Well, there is a high degree of innovation and the need to globally improve the reliability of the grid. There are also things going on from a wind and solar perspective, like new sources for green energy which is exciting. There is just a lot of cutting edge technology that will really transform the old energy economy.

 

AIM: What is the most exciting thing that Valmont is working on right now?

SK: Within the irrigation space, we have pivots that can adjust the flow of water up to 3,600 times to ensure water conservation. A person can adjust the water flow from their iPhone or iPad to make sure there is not a drop wasted. They can turn the pivots on, off, speed it up, slow it down, etc., so the farmer doesn’t necessarily have to go to the field anymore to do that, they can adjust these pivots from anywhere.
We are also helping drive the competitiveness of the market so that ratepayers don’t have to pay nearly as much to have improved reliability and service. We help lower the cost of construction and have a multitude of designs that help us do that. Every pole we have is engineered. They may look the same when you are driving down the street, but each one of the those has to be designed individually for terrain, wind, load, etc.

 

AIM: What makes Omaha a great place to build a tech business?

SK: Well, we have an extremely educated workforce for one. The history of Omaha is very entrepreneurial, so we are always looking for better, improved and new ways of doing something that may be fairly routine. We also have an extremely large business community for the size of the town.

 

AIM: Can you talk a little about your transition from Tucson to Omaha?

SK: I have lived all over the country, but moving to Omaha was a really easy transition thanks to the people. I was just surprised at how much philanthropic work that people in the community do and also how the companies are very engaged and care about the community. In Tucson people went to work and went home. Here people seem to care about the general state of the area and not just themselves.

 

AIM: How does being involved with AIM help better Valmont as well as the tech community in general?

SK: AIM works with people all the way from grade school, to high school, to college and into their careers. AIM gets people into tech and then continues to further their background and skills in tech as they move forward which helps the entire business community.
From a Valmont perspective, having people available to fill jobs is extremely important as well as the fact that there is a place in town for people to find events and education that can further their skills as they move forward in their career path.

 

AIM: If you had one piece of advice for job seekers, what would it be?

SK: Well, it’s pretty simple. No matter your discipline, you are going to use technology and you are going to have to be able to adapt. It used to be there were IT people and then there were accountants and purchasing people, etc. Now, all of those divisions use tech. So if you want to excel, learning tech skills is vital to any career, not just IT careers.

 

Are you interested in finding a career at Valmont Industries? Check out the latest openings here.

 

Brilliant People of Omaha: A series of discovery.

Welcome to Brilliant People of Omaha. In this series we will sit down with local brilliant individuals who love their jobs, have excellent career advice and are ready to share their story about how they came into their current position.

We will talk to a variety of people in this series including: developers, designers, managers, CEOs, interns, etc. Everyone has a story, and we are here to uncover it and see what we can learn from the brilliant people around us.

Do you have someone you’d like to nominate as a brilliant person of Omaha? Drop Melanie Lucks a line at mlucks@aiminstitute.org. We’d love to hear from you.