Representor Spring 2022 - Rising Stars


Forging her own path after following in the family career footsteps 

Kristen Mandelstamm
Luscombe Engineering of San Francisco

To gain a better insight into how young professionals in the electronics industry have turned challenges into opportunities and ensured continued growth, The Representor interviewed Kristen Mandelstamm, inside sales representative and office manager for Luscombe Engineering of San Francisco.

Mandelstamm shared how hard work and soaking up knowledge from her colleagues has helped her prove herself after following her father into the manufacturer’s rep business. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I got my B.A. from Cal State University Hayward in 2007. I thought I wanted to be a teacher but wound up following in my Dad’s footsteps and have been working in the electronics industry since I was 16 years old. I have worked as both a manufacturer’s rep and in distribution. My husband Phil and I are busy raising our three beautiful children. I enjoy spending time with family and friends.

How long have you worked in the electronics industry?

I went to work for my Dad who owned a manufacturer’s rep when I was 16 years old. After college he hired me on full time. Twenty-three years later, I am still loving it!

What made you choose this industry as your current career path?

The family connection for me is the reason that I chose this career path and I have never regretted it. 

What are some of the main challenges you encountered as you embarked on your career journey?

The biggest challenge I think I faced was proving myself. Because I worked for my Dad, I always felt the need to prove my worth and prove that I was just as hard working and deserving of the job as the rest of my colleagues. One of the other challenges I faced was always being one of the youngest people in our industry while trying to voice my opinions and effect forward change. 

What are some steps that you have taken to overcome these challenges and to ensure that you can establish and nurture a successful career?

For me I was able to overcome these challenges through good old fashioned hard work. Once I was able to prove myself and gain the respect of my peers, the rest just fell into place for me. Also just soaking up all of the knowledge from everyone around me has helped me.

What were some training tools or networking/industry events that you found beneficial to your professional growth?

When I was getting into the industry, there were not a lot of these tools or events available to me. I think I learned through the old-fashioned “school of hard knocks.” I have seen a lot more of these tools being put into place in the last few years for the next generation coming into the electronics industry. One is Women in Electronics. I think this is a great organization designed to help mentor young women getting into this industry. 

Is there enough new talent entering the electronics industry and what could make this field more attractive to future young professionals?

I absolutely think there is enough new talent available out there. I think it is a matter of making it appealing to young professionals. One thing that I believe COVID-19 brought to light for a lot of young professionals starting out is the importance of a work/life balance. That is one thing this industry can offer and if we can market that, I think it would be very attractive to people. I would also like to see more young women and people of color being recruited into the electronics industry. 

Where do you see your profession and the industry 10 to 20 years from now?

To be honest, I am unsure right now. COVID-19 has changed the way that we look at our job. The ability to work from home has been a game changer for a lot of people. We have seen that there are much more efficient ways to do things. Top that with all of the resources available online – the way engineers can do their job is so different now, too. Even though I am unsure of where I see our industry 20 years from now, I am very excited to see how things change for the better. 

Professionally, what keeps you up at night?

Right now, what is keeping me up at night are all the issues surrounding the global supply chain. It seems that all we are doing right now is expediting parts and helping to manage shortages.