Deborah Nunaley, Office Manager
What was it like to grow up on a farm and what skills have stuck with you?
It’s hard work, but I would never trade that upbringing. On a family farm everyone is involved in the work and there are many factors, like weather, that are out of your control. On our farm in central Indiana, we raised beef cattle and grew corn, soybeans and wheat. One thing you learn is to reuse everything. Farmers are the original “green” advocates in that respect. You also learn not to be afraid of manual labor. I am much more likely to do something myself rather than call a professional.
My mom kept all of the farm accounting books by hand, even after we purchased a PC and accounting software in the early 80’s. She recorded the purchase and selling price of each individual cow on paper. Every night, I would do my homework at the dining room table while she worked on the books and taught me things as she went. That might be the beginning of my love of crunching numbers.
My favorite part of farm life was taking care of all the animals. I miss that. I would love to raise chickens in the city. You can’t beat fresh eggs.
What do you like best about what you do at DMC?
Between accounting, human resources, recruiting and purchasing, my duties vary greatly and every day is different. I enjoy constantly having a hand in so many things. DMC is well-structured without red tape, and I appreciate the sense of autonomy regarding our work.
What skills are required to be a successful Office Manager?
Multi-tasking is key. You cannot forget anything and need to develop some system for keeping track of all information and tasks, whether it be lists, standard operating procedures, calendars, etc. With a small business, there is a degree of having to figure things out on your own as you go. We’re definitely more structured than when Frank used to manage all of the administrative duties!
As an Office Manager, you have to work behind the scenes to ensure everything gets done and is organized across a wide range of areas. You have to have a real desire for the position; either it isn’t for you, or you find it extremely engaging.
You’ve been with DMC for over seven years. How has it grown?
DMC continues to grow in size, but we maintain the energetic feel of a young company. Our core group of experienced engineers provides continuity and we hire the best new graduates every year. Working with the engineers right out of college keeps me young! Our new office is also much cooler than any of our previous spaces.
Do you have any engineering hobbies? How does DMC bring out your inner-nerd?
I don’t have any engineering hobbies. As far as my inner-nerd, I did play alto sax in the band in high school and also was the drum major. I love Lord of the Rings more than I should, as well as any word or number games. It’s funny that at DMC you can be discussing a band with other employees and then find the conversation has turned to robots and you aren’t quite sure how it got there.
What do you like to do for fun?
My two worlds consist of the DMC engineers and my motorcycling crew. My goal for 2012 is to become more proficient in riding my motorcycle, which my husband, Sean, built for me. I’ve been a passenger with him for a decade and am looking forward to riding myself. I love the sensation of slicing through the air and feeling the wind on my face as I enjoy the scenery. Since Sean builds bikes we are always on the search for parts and visit a few shows and swap meets each year devoted to the hunt.
I am also obsessed with our Bengal cat, Dailie. Bengals are hypoallergenic, so they are great for those who want a pet but are allergic to everything, like my husband. She will play fetch and enjoys a game of chase which makes her more like a dog.
What’s your favorite place in Chicago?
Bravetown is a garage space in Noble Square where my husband and 10 other friends build their bikes and socialize. We have potlucks, barbeques, and birthday parties there; it’s a great family atmosphere. Last year, we all rode down to Nashville for a wedding; it was the best week of the summer.
I know that you’re a big fan of attending concerts. What are some of the best shows you’ve seen?
My very first show was David Sanborn at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. I went with my older sister who was in college at the time and it was quite memorable. Lollapalooza 1994 was incredible with The Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys and Green Day. Every Nick Cave show has been great, especially at the Chicago Theatre. We also like to check out the Honky Tonk Happy Hour every Friday at the Empty Bottle featuring the Hoyle Brothers.
What are some lessons you’ve learned in your career thus far?
Know your flaws and tackle them each day. Mine is procrastination, and I’ve found eliminating any tasks I dislike right away is the best strategy. Most tasks are never as bad as I anticipate them to be.
Interpersonal working relationships are key. No matter what you do for a living, the relationships with the people you work with, work for, and manage are essential to your career.
What do you like best about working at DMC?
The people - they are truly the smartest individuals I have ever worked with. Everyone is at the top of their game. I also like that DMC employees are friends socially. We meet up on weekends and after hours; it’s not just business.