Monday, December 18, 2017

Post Rotational Program: What I Learned

This post is long overdue and I am so happy to share my thoughts about my rotational program experience as I have been on program for over 2.5 years! Originally, it was supposed to be 2 years but with some detours, I finally made it to the end and it really has be such an adventure. Let's get started!

Always twinning with Amanda!
Rotation 1:
I started my rotational program out in Salem, Indiana, one of our largest facilities and it was a blast. Amanda, my manager and seen in the photo above, really allowed me to learn our business from everyone in the plant and taught me the quality building blocks for many of the things I use today! While in this rotation, she let me sit on on customer visits, take multiple automotive classes in Michigan, and work on some projects on the shop floor.  My BBF at work, Debbie, also taught me many tricks to the trade in regards to documentation and TS 16949 and did lots of fun fitness activities with me like getting bouncy ball chairs to sit on at work. It's overwhelming to learn about PM but using statistics, everyone's gracious help, and exploring, I got a pretty good base knowledge while at this plant. Everyone here was so kind to me and whenever I get to go back, it is a joy!

Achieved: Purdue MEP Six Sigma Black Belt, AIAG Classes on FMEA, APQP, PPAP, and a basic knowledge of how the automotive industry works as a supplier!

Mentor Notes: Amanda is one of the most wonderful people I've met at my company. She really took me under her wing and taught me many things about our company and the industry. I am really grateful for everything she's taught me but my one takeaway that I remember everyday is that you can be  firm and nice at the same time. Being a woman in this industry takes guts but you don't have to sacrifice who you are to get ahead.

I have passed my selfie crown to Mary now - she is a pro!
Rotation 2:
My next rotation was in Emporium, PA under Mary Culver, a super rad woman who is in charge of everything quality document and system related in the US division. Under her, I worked on one main project of really understanding how our quality software can be used to improve production from the engineering side of things. I learned about new features in the software, wrote them ups for the user base, and tried to implement all the new features on the floor in a sample in the site. I had a few other small projects but all of them related to quality. During this rotation, I had my first conflict in moving things forward and while it was very rough for me at the time, I learned a lot from that experience. Mary also gave me great advice on this and I am really grateful for all of her wisdom shared with me during this rotation. 

Achieved: A greater understanding of quality systems, how to implement better quality control for the operators and how to handle conflict and reluctance to change in others

Mentor Notes: Mary is someone who handles everything with such grace and a smile. I always enjoy her positive attitude and how it forced me to see the positive in all situations. When I asked her about how to handle this conflict at work, she told me that seeing both sides of the situation is key, meeting the person halfway and getting them calm, and then trying to get them to come to your side by seeing the benefits. If your side is a mandate from corporate, it may have to be that the person must change but make the change not hurtful because they see a benefit on their side! She calls this "WHIFM" - what is in it for me!

Captured in our favorite place - a machine that always gave us some troubles!
Rotation 3: 
My third rotation was in Conover. NC and this was probably my most floor-intensive rotation. When I had gotten the plant, they were in a bit of a pickle. I learned quickly how to test and measure all types of parts, create standard work for measuring processes, analyze data in Minitab, help support a new product being launched, and support the operators in their requests. I also implemented some semi-digital processes to help bring the plant into Industry 4.0 until our company wide measures are implemented. My boss Earl is one of the most interesting quality managers I've ever worked under and I learned A LOT from him during this rotation. He handled most of the calls with the customers for our team so the engineers in the plant had time to go out to the floor and solve issues. One of my fondest memories is when I did an experiment on different pan types and had to strength test 500 parts in one day. It was really interesting to see the results of an experiment that I had run and learn how to graph/present them for the audience to understand the impact of the the findings.

Achieved: In-depth metrology understanding, how to create documentation for the shop floor, and how to design an experiment, conduct multiple experiments at the same time, and visualize all of the data 

Mentor Notes: Earl was my first male manager during program and his straight forward leadership style was very different than what I was used to from my previous rotations. I had to learn how to condense my achievements for the day into a 3 minute summary, take notes on the fly, and keep tabs on all the balls in the air so to speak. Earl is also gifted with the art of presentation. He is a great public speaker and presenter. There are three things I learned about presenting from him: always project loudly and clearly, prepare slides with minimal words to keep the focus on you and your message, and always give the audience something to remember at the end like dollar coins for questions about the presentations. 

Boss#1: Christina
Rotation 4:
Rotation 4 in Bruneck, Italy has been my most challenging rotation as I really had to learn a lot in a short time to deliver results for my two (!) managers. For Christina, I learned how to write SQL and define queries ultimately for a dashboard. For Christian, I am working on two projects in the plant to help with some efficiency. It's been a lot of desk time for me which is unusual but I can see why desk jobs are appealing! I was able to wear a skirt to work for the first time in a long time and caffeine became my best friend. Coding is not simple - sometimes the SQL query works but then you must validate it against known data to make sure that you are getting the right data out of the database. Besides being a more desk-centric rotation, I was in a for a bit of shock with German being the mother tongue in the plant and all of the new pilots going on in this plant!

Achieved: SQL knowledge, automotive terms in german, basic Italian and German, and an understanding of using big data to make decisions 

Mentor Notes: Having two bosses was interesting and each had some things that I learned from them. Both of my bosses are numbers focused. They make decisions based on data analysis and their understanding of our processes. Christina is really good with understanding all function views of a subject. When developing a dashboard together, she asked me to think from the production, upper management, and quality's point of view to create a comprehensive view of the topic. Christian is really good at explain things in a simple way - whenever he explained something to me, I fully understood it without him repeating himself. I have a long way to go to emulate him as I like to give every detail (if you could not tell already) but brief technical statements that are fully comprehendible  are a goal of mine now. 

Side Project: RocketSpace/Smart Quality
I was really lucky during my program to go to San Francisco to learn about startup culture to bring it back to our company in the social media group I created for us and in the plants where I am stationed.

Side Project: Industry 4.0
Our company takes Industry 4.0 very seriously and thus we have done a serious of projects to implement it effectively and this has been so cool to be a part of and learn about the topic.

This program got me into hiking for exercise - I went hiking in Cinque Terre and can't wait to do it more in the US!
Overall:
This program has given me such a great opportunity to learn about the automotive industry, especially the quality sector. I did not know that there was so much involved in cars to make sure that they are safe for us to drive everyday or how many people are making sure that quality is excellent everyday.  There are over 2,000 different parts in a car and all need to be regulated for our safety.

Generally, I really learned how important it is to understand information and how it is used or perceived at different levels of an organization. In regards to data, I am just in the beginning stages of my data science and data visualization journey but it is so important to use data, analyze data, validate data, and figure out what you aren't collecting. 

Personally, I've really grown as a person and become an 'real' adult and while that sounds silly to write, it's so true. I've been in all kinds of situations at work, moved to four different places with little to no friends there and gained a group of people I still contact, and learned what is truly important to me - my health, my family, and enjoying what I spend at least 25% of my week doing.

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