Montréal, Québec, Canada
- Charles loves to work at Lumen, a division of Sonepar Canada Inc. Sonepar is the global market leader in the B2B distribution of electrical products, solutions, and related services.
- Sonepar is actively engaged in a complete digital transformation, which involves and empowers associates at every level and in every country.
- Charles has been working for Lumen for over 10 years and has 19 years of experience in the electrical supplies industry.
- He is currently a project and contract administrator at Lumen Key Accounts.
- His previous position was Branch Manager at Lumen Sept-Îles, in Northern Québec.
- His mission is to automate business processes and to connect the dots between customers and various departments at Lumen.
- His favorite tools include PowerQuery, Power Automate and model-driven apps.
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charles-s%C3%A9guin-3832403a/
Charles programmed his first "app" when he was 10 years old, using simple .bat files in MS-DOS. As a teenager, he learned TurboPascal and enjoyed programming comical video games for his friends. At the age of 15, he started a small web design business, where he created websites for real estate agents using simple HTML code.
A diligent student, Charles skipped a few years in school. He loved math, algebra, stats, and history. Nevertheless, he didn't enjoy the structured learning environment in the school system, preferring an autodidactic approach.
Having obtained his high-school diploma at the age of 16, his contacts in real estate led him to meet the Sales Manager at Eurobex (today EXM), a manufacturer of electrical enclosures. As his first "real job", he landed a full-time position in Marketing at Eurobex, where he was initially tasked with building the company's website.
Once complete, Eurobex's President and Founder asked Charles to publish a new 448-page catalog for the company. His initial reply, "Mr. Ciocca, I don't know anything about publishing." The President simply replied, "Here is my credit card, here are my car keys. Go to Chapters and Best Buy, buy a few books and the software you need. I want a catalog on my desk in six months and 10,000 copies ready to ship to customers. You have a budget of $70,000. Oh, and please bring back my car in one piece." Five months later the catalog was complete, with $5,000 left to spare on the budget.
Eurobex's President had a business administration background, but he spent several hours every day with the welders and painters on the automated assembly line. He insisted on signing every check from accounts payable by hand. He regularly sat down with office workers, just to understand exactly what they were doing, how they were doing it and, how they could do it more efficiently.
Mr. Ciocca taught Charles the most important lessons in his life:
1. An individual's perception is 100% of his reality.
2. Never trust a single source of information.
3. Throwing money or people at a problem is the worst way to solve it.
4. Automation, at every level, is the key to success in business.
5. Don't attempt to automate anything without fully understanding it first.
Charles was eventually promoted to Marketing Manager and then to Regional Sales Manager. His job led him to visit customers in the metals & mining industry in Northern Quebec. He fell in love with the region's rugged terrain, the icy beaches and the local pioneering spirit. After five years at Eurobex, Charles was ready for a new challenge.
He moved to Sept-Îles, Québec, and started his career in the electrical wholesale industry. After a few years working for two different distributors, Charles was offered a position as Branch Manager for Lumen, Quebec's leading distributor of electrical supplies and exclusive distributor of Rockwell Automation products. Lumen is a division of Sonepar, the global market leader in B2B electrical supplies.
He managed a small team, where he regularly started his day unloading trucks wearing overalls and steel-toe boots. Then, he removed his overalls to reveal a suit and tie and laced up his polished shoes, just in time for a meeting. At lunchtime, he covered the sales counter as his employees ate. Later, he drove to the iron ore pelletizing plant and put on his hard hat, to assist his customers in selecting the appropriate Rockwell Automation solutions for their applications. This 360° view gave him a broad perspective of his local business, down (quite literally) to the nuts and bolts, but it left him with a yearning to learn more about the corporate side of the business at the head office. Eventually, he was expropriated from his beachfront home after it was severely damaged during a hurricane. Once again, Charles was ready for a new challenge.
He was delighted to accept a project and contract administration position in the key accounts department at Lumen's headquarters, where he has been working for nearly three years. In practice, he connects the dots between strategic customers and various departments at Lumen, including sales, IT, e-commerce, HR (training), legal, accounts receivable, purchasing, logistics and upper management. His mission is to streamline and automate business processes which involve all the above stakeholders.
For six months, he seized the opportunity to take on a second shift in the evening, working in the distribution center with his trusty steel-toe boots. Overtime pay aside, the goal was to gain an understanding of the intricate logistics process at Lumen.
In 2019, Charles noticed that many of his colleagues were constantly writing the same VLOOKUP formulas in Excel, week after week, to match customer data with Lumen data. He thought there had to be a better way. His personal research led him to PowerQuery. By leveraging PowerQuery and Sharepoint, he automated many business processes. Eventually, the local processing power of his laptop couldn't keep up with his complex queries and large datasets. It was time to scale-up to the cloud.
He discovered the Power Platform through Dataflows. Today, he automates business processes that involve multiple departments using Sharepoint, Power Automate, Dataverse, and model-driven apps. The next steps: Power Virtual Agents, Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Data Factory, and Azure Cognitive Services.
Charles leverages his hands-on steel-toe boot experience, his burgeoning technical expertise and his broad-based business knowledge to actively participate in his company's digital transformation.
Charles loves to travel and to discover foreign cultures. His favorite places to visit are Vietnam (Da Lat) and Bulgaria (Varna). He met his wife in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He had a leadership role in a Facebook group with 4000+ members to lobby the Canadian Government to streamline the immigration process for the spouses of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. His wife was finally allowed to immigrate to Canada in September 2019. His wife’s love and support are the keys to the realization of his ambitions and dreams.
Charles has a wonderful 8-year-old son with autism, who gladly shares his unique perspective on the world with his father. Like his father, he shares a passion for geography and history. Together, they have visited over 20 countries.