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A Present Career, A Career Interest, and the Value of a College Education

A small bit of historical information is in order to set the tone for this presentation. I was raised, as most young boys are, learning to read, write, and the other necessary evils of elementary education. My father was finally discharged from the U. S. Army Air Corp. and World War II, where he had been a Lt. Col. , and taught the use of the Norden Bombsight to bombardiers and crews of the time. My early years were basically fun years, as I learned how to fish, shoot, hunt, about dogs, cats, and toysmany, many, toys.

My mother believed in spoiling me, since I was the only child, and for eight years, I was the only object of me parents’ attention. In 1958, however, that situation changed forever, with the birth of my little brother, and three years later, my little sister arrived. These two events, little did I realize, would have a profound effect on my life. They would alter the way I felt about life, contribute to changes in my personality, and most of all, formed the basis for my later life in general, including my chosen profession.

My father, prior to WWII, worked for Victor adding Machine Company, who designed the Norden Bombsight. After the war, he and another man started an oil well drilling company. He did all the engineering required except for the Geology, and co-owned the company until the late 1950’s. My father was not a degreed petroleum engineer, but was in fact qualified. He had studied under his father, who also had owned an oil company in Southern Illinois for most of his life.

My “inherited engineering” skills were already a part of my genetic make-up from birth. The only thing that changed was my engineering interest. I decided that my interest would be manufacturing, since I was intrigued from a very young age by what made things work, how they were designed and built, and the methods and processes utilized for their production. Thus, became my interest in manufacturing or industrial engineering, later to become expanded and named manufacturing engineering by many organizations.

Educational institutions originally concentrated on teaching Industrial Engineering Technology, which included the analysis and application of methods, equipment, and standards for the labor input to manufacture any product, along with capital improvements applicable to reduce cost, improve quality, and provide dependable delivery schedules. Frederick W. Taylor originally developed the program, which evolved into current Industrial Engineering Technology and practices, in the early 1900’s.

He was known as “The Father of Scientific Management. ” As Kanigel concludes, “[Taylor] was alive to the power of scientific method, doggedly in search of experimental truth; but he was not above shading facts or omitting inconvenient details” (Kanigel 1997, 275). But he was never a common laborer. As I stated in my previous paper for this class, Personal Strengths and Weaknesses, I was intrigued early in life with how things worked, why they worked, and how they were designed and manufactured.

I found out early on that I had an extremely high mechanical aptitude, having taken old clocks that no longer kept time, and rebuilding them-sometimes with newly fabricated components, when the originals were damaged or no longer available. It seemed that any mechanical object or device I saw, or came in contact with, had a secret to its design which allowed it to perform a function, and that was the impetus driving me to understand, and improve upon the device’s operation when possible. This inquisitive nature has been with me all my life, and is the predominant reason for my having an engineering career for the past 37 years.

During this career, I have been responsible for some outstanding accomplishments, including many state-of-the-art systems designs, and many completely re-engineered manufacturing operations, capable of previously unheard of product output. These years have been very enjoyable, rewarding, and most of all, satisfying from inventive and creative standpoints, as well as financially. However, I have come to realize that an engineer, no matter how accomplished, is limited in scope and ability for marketability. In a previous organization, I had the opportunity to perform as a manufacturing manager.

This opportunity came to me at a point in life, dominated by the Big Three, in their search for quality improvements to provide them an alternative to being swept away by the Japanese. “During the 1960s and 1970s, many Japanese manufacturers greatly increased their share of the U. S. market. A major reason was superior quality. Numerous industries were impacted: consumer electronics, automobiles, steel, machine tools and so on. Some researchers quantified the quality differences. The impact of the Japanese exports on the United States was considerable.

Consumers benefited greatly by access to goods of superior quality at competitive and even lower prices. However, great damage was done to other areas of the U. S. economy: The impacted manufacturing companies were damaged by the resulting loss of market share. The work force and the unions were damaged by the resulting export of jobs. The national economy was damaged by the resulting unfavorable trade balances. Collectively, these impacts called for responsive action. ” (Juran, 1979), (color television sets); also (Garvin, 1982) (room air conditioners).

Interestingly, some people believe that had the two Americans (Deming and Juran) not given their lectures, the Japanese quality revolution would not have happened. In the view of the author, this belief has no relation to reality. Had the Americans never gone there, the Japanese quality revolution would have taken place without them. Each of the Americans did bring to Japan a structured training package that the Japanese had not yet evolved. In that sense, each gave the Japanese a degree of jump-start. But the same Americans also gave their lectures in other countries, none of which succeeded in building such a revolution.

That is why the author has told his audiences that, “The unsung heroes of the Japanese quality revolution are the Japanese managers. ” (Ishikawa, 1989). These years, while not pleasant by any means, did stir an inner desire in me. Since that time, while practicing as an industrial/manufacturing engineer, I found that I had grown more and more desirous of being responsible once again for the management of an entire manufacturing organization, rather than supporting goals put forth by a manager, to whom I reported from two levels below.

It may be called premonition, old age, senility, or maybe even a rebirth of my independence, but whatever it was, I had the burning desire to be more in charge of my own destiny. This reality came about in January 2005, as I was let go in a “reduction in force” by a well-known automotive aftermarket vehicle underbody component manufacturer for whom I had worked for the last two-and-one-half plus years. I was in fact an independent contractor, and by most accounts of this organization, was considered lucky to have been there that long, because of the organization’s known history for massive impulsive layoffs and RIFs.

The suddenness, and coldness that was present during the action, was really an eye-opener to me, as well as those who were employees, with long histories at this company. Together we were shocked. Since that time, I resolved to invest in my long-standing career goal, as a manufacturing plant manager, and no matter what it took, to prepare myself for its coming. Fortunately, I received an inquiry about my resume from a young start-up company owner who was interested in hiring a plant manager.

We discussed the operation, his needs, and the plans for growth; the company needed to improve, market-share, reduce labor costs, and improve manufacturing capacity, by investing in modern CNC machinery, as well as other capital improvements. I was truly gratified, since I could not only utilize my previous engineering skills and experience, but would be responsible for total manufacturing operations, which would greatly augment the growth potential of the organization. We came to terms, and I was hired.

Eagerly, I explored the improvements necessary, as I became familiar with the organization’s ownership and employees during the first week there. I was pleased to learn that the owner was sincere in his motives, and could see that I would be very happy there, as well as an asset to grow the company, both financially and in improved market share. The value of a college education has taken on a new meaning to me since January 2005. I had decided that I wanted to complete a Bachelors and Masters of Science degree in management, and was in the process of “interviewing” various universities, at the time.

I received a call from the University Of Phoenix, about which, I’d heard good reports. I discussed my degree aspirations with the gentleman, who I learned later would be my academic counselor, and we together mapped out a plan of attack. As we read in Keys to College Studying – Living With Integrity, ” You’ve spent time exploring who you are, how you learn, and what you value. Integrity is about being true to that self-portrait you have drawn while also considering the needs of others. Living with integrity will bring you great personal and professional rewards.

Having integrity puts your sense of what is right into day-to-day action. When you act with integrity you earn trust and respect from others. Integrity is a must for workplace success. ” I will utilize the organizational skills I learn from the completion of these UOP degrees to bring the company I now manage into the realm of modern customer-oriented organizational operations, and motivate the self-directed teams which are basically in place now, but need further direction to provide reduced-cost and higher quality product using minimized labor and materials.

The customer satisfaction attitude needs to be honed, as does the material usage paradigms of the past, to recognize that the major costs of product are material related. Reducing this cost and labor content, opens the door for more capacity, which in turn, provides more sales ability, translating into more earnings for the organization. Quality is the second phase, which starts with the vendors/suppliers that are presently on-line, and refined quality specifications for their generated product.

Most truly effective organizations today practice customer relationship management as an integral part of their structured business plan. I will endeavor to place my emphasis of skills-both learned and innate, into developing and supporting the use of CRM. as a means of providing more value to the customer. As I read in the Business Balls. com website on CRM, “More significantly however, customers want to have their needs satisfied. Customers’ needs are distinctly different to and far broader than a product or service, and the features and benefits encompassed.

Customers’ needs generally extend to issues far beyond the suppliers’ proposition, and will often include the buying-selling process (prior to providing anything), the way that communications are handled, and the nature of the customer-supplier relationship. A moment of truth- ‘Moments of truth’ are encounters with customers which cause them to form a view of the organization based on how they are engaged, particularly compared to their expectations. Expectations can be met, exceeded or disappointed.

Moments of truth can therefore be positive, in the case of meeting and exceeding expectations, or negative, in the case of disappointment. Monitoring the ‘moments of truth’ allows the company to focus on improving areas responsible for negative customer experiences. Remedial action to prevent repetition is crucial. A single mistake is forgivable. A repeat rarely is. If you put things right your customers will see that they are important to you. Put things right and you will be seen as a supplier who knows how to manage quality. (www. businessballs. m website).

Organizations that fail to put right things that go wrong, might as well say to the customer, “You are not important to us”. Failing to put things right and to prevent reoccurrence says of the organization “We are not capable of managing quality service. ” (www. businessballs. com website). I intend to focus my knowledge and skills gained from the UOP courses I have taken on building solid relationships with existing and potential customers, in order to assure them that I am capable of handling their business in a most professional manner.

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