PROOF: Job Seekers Who Did - Paul Wells

PROOF is an occasional series that showcases (and celebrates!) people who employed new job search strategies and landed THE job or promotion they wanted. Today, we feature Paul Wells of Boulder, Colorado. (Story by Emily McIntyre)

Paul Wells had built a great career working in machine design and mechanical engineering for equipment manufacturers in the food and beverage industry; think Pepsi-Cola, Anheuser Busch—the actual machines that package our favorite snacks and drinks.

Over the years, he’d moved into project management, finally landing in a consultant role in Chicago—a position he held for more than a decade.

“I was happy enough where I was at,” he recalled, “but I began thinking about getting back to my machine design roots in a way that would let me continue using my project management skills.”

With his last child reaching high school age, he was ready to consider what the next decade or two looked like in his career—and he had a hunch it might be a move that also got him away from Chicago’s killer winters.

Paul wanted to make sure that, if he did make a move, it was a good next step for him.

“I wasn’t interested in a lateral move,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to have to start over in his career. Without much idea of where to start he took his girlfriend Tamara’s advice and checked out (Tamara has used Jenny’s services more than once, with great success.)

What he chose

Paul chose the Whole Enchilada, a bundled package that provided Paul with both strategy and the marketing tools he’d need (resume, LinkedIn profile makeover, cover letter) to give this a solid run. Jenny and her team helped Paul articulate the experience he had, including directing a $500M yearlong facility expansion project and the redesign of a major bottling line for one of the world's largest beverage manufacturers.

Turns out, for Paul, that was all it took.

“The thing that was most surprising to me was that once we did the LinkedIn update and that went live, I had more traffic on than I could keep up with! I could pretty much cherry-pick opportunities from my contacts there.”

What he ‘cherry-picked’ was a Senior Director of Engineering position with Wild Goose Meehan, in Boulder, Colorado. His job hunt was successful—and he’d barely started!

How does Paul’s new position compare to his previous role?

As he’d wanted, he has hands in both the machine design and the project management sides of equipment manufacturing. Moving from working with equipment for massive companies to the microbrewing world, he finds he deals with similar considerations.

“On the big side, you’re focused the most on going fast and doing things efficiently. That’s important for small systems too, but the application changes. The big guys don’t care about spilling barrels as long as they keep moving. The small companies will be concerned about getting every single drop of that run of beer; every drop is valuable.”

Wild Goose Canning produces filling equipment for canning and bottling in the craft brewing, kombucha and cold brew coffee marketplace. Now, Paul says, even wine is going into cans, and he thinks the market will only increase for this type of specialized equipment.

As for location, Paul is loving his new city. In Chicago he was keen on the lake front, but now he’s “literally five minutes from actual mountains.” He enjoys hiking, biking, and running and has been exploring the local culture which he says has been extremely welcoming. A number of his long-time friends have recently moved to Boulder too, so he and Tamara have a built-in community.

Paul’s advice for anyone hoping to change their careers

“It’s really helpful if you can work without a timeline. For me, I was thinking it was take six months to a year, at least, and I didn’t plan to do much of an active search.” Taking the time to really fine-tune his LinkedIn profile and resume ended up paying dividends, and fast.

What was working with the team like?

“It’s funny because Tamara had used Jenny’s services a while ago, I used her, and now because of this move to Boulder I think Tamara is using her again,” said Paul. “I love Jenny’s entire menu of offerings. The Whole Enchilada was a good choice for me because I was able to talk through my experience with her to make sure it was up-to-date and then she wordsmithed my roles in a way that pointed me in the right direction.”

What are Paul’s plans for the future?

Boulder is a kind of “ground zero” for the microbrewing revolution, which makes it a great place for Paul to plan his future. He says that one of his favorite parts of working for Wild Goose Meehan is that he feels he has input and influence into the direction of the company and a huge scope for his professional imagination.

“I think it will keep me energized for a while,” he concluded.

Congrats, Paul!

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Photo: Provided by Paul Wells