After getting fired, Aaron-Michael Eller dug deep and found a blessing in disguise
Just moments before he was to coach his daughter’s softball game, Aaron-Michael Eller (BBA ’13; MBA/MSMKT ’21) received a phone call that blindsided him: He was fired from his promising role as a product manager for a global tooling supplier.
Gutted by the news, Eller hung up and hit the field, somehow finding the strength to cheer his young ballplayers on. But it wasn’t easy. “For me as an adult, that was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through,” says Eller, who had worked his way up the company ladder after graduating from Walsh in 2013.
The shame deepened after getting home and telling his wife and four young children the news. “I tried to keep myself from spiraling; it was tough to have to look my kids in the eyes,” he recalls.
Trying a Different Approach
The termination happened during the incredibly unsettling time of summer 2020. Starting a job search, Eller says he was optimistic the first month, but by month two, he began to have serious doubts about his ability to find another position. In the back of his mind, though, it occurred to him that the positions he had been applying for that first month were all lateral moves, so he decided to set his sights higher.
Having had the goal of one day achieving an executive-level position at his former employer, he decided to market himself for that type of role through LinkedIn. His 30-second video pitch caught the eye of a recruiter, who matched him with Ultra Carbide in Novi. Now Eller is the president of the company that supplies premium tungsten carbide material to North American tool suppliers.
Suppliers that happen to include many contacts from his previous role.
“It’s worked out — it’s all for the better,” Eller says, adding that he has grown the company this past year and plans to hire another five people. He attributes his glass-half-full attitude to growing up with hardworking parents whose mantra was “It could always be worse.”
To the Top
That mindset came in handy as Eller entered his late teens, when a failed first attempt at college left him first working for his dad’s tree service business, then for his father-in-law’s machine shop. “I had a vision; I always wanted more,” Eller says. “I wanted to run something; I wanted to get to the top of wherever I was, whether at the machine shop or any other job I was at.”
After a few years of sweeping floors and washing machinery for his father-in-law, Eller went back to college in 2008, earning the first of three Walsh degrees. Now, he says if he could go back to that point where he struggled with self-doubt after getting fired, he wouldn’t hesitate to parrot a lesson from his youth.
“I wanted to run something; I wanted to get to the top of wherever I was, whether at the machine shop or any other job I was at.”
“I would tell myself that exact same thing: ‘It could be worse; it’s going to get better,’” he says. “In fact, I wish I would have gotten fired sooner because everything worked out.
“It’s all lined up for me.”