10 Nov Mike F., Manager, Global Production System
A Day in the Life of MIKE F., Manager, global production system for one of 13 businesses owned by one of the world’s largest manufacturers.
MBA GENERAL MANAGEMENT/STRATEGY
What I Do
I am responsible for leading improvements in the global parts division of a world leader in diagnostic imaging technology (X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, etc.). When one of these machines is inoperable, lives might hang in the balance.
The global parts division is responsible for delivering very expensive parts anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. To this end, there are 80 warehouses around the globe that try to stock the right parts and receive the old, worn-out parts to assess whether they can be repaired economically.
Right now, too many mistakes are being made and the system is inefficient (in fact, it would be great if we didn’t have to stock any parts at all).
Other divisions at my company have implemented a process known as the global production system to enhance efficiency (in conjunction with a corporate Six-Sigma initiative).
I am responsible for using these “lean thinking” techniques to improve the global parts division. I work to identify how the customer perceives value and to identify steps in the value chain, improve flow, introduce a pull system, and work toward perfection.
What I Enjoy Most
I enjoy doing things that make a difference. I also like working to fix things that are not efficient in order to improve sales and profitability.
What I Enjoy Least
Doing things that are not challenging, or simply crunching numbers and telling others what to do to make the numbers look right is what I enjoy least. I also didn’t want to be in an MBA rotational program where you have 3 to 4 positions in two years.
I’m a little older than some MBAs (with 11 years of full-time work experience), and I wanted to get right to work in a position where I could have an immediate impact.
Why I Chose This Career
I am going back to work for a different company within the parent organization, where I worked pre-MBA. It was important for me not to go immediately back to the division I already knew, because of my broad general management interests.
Career-wise, I had never really planned to leave the company when I went back for my MBA. I enjoy the challenging culture there—they expect a lot out of an employee and reward those who succeed. This is a unique position within the group and might potentially become the next corporate initiative (in conjunction with Six-Sigma).
The position leverages my past experience in Six-Sigma quality, manufacturing, and sourcing, while allowing me to break into a new part of the family of companies. (I had previously worked in the Power Systems company.)
I hope to continue to progress through a variety of challenging positions in my company and eventually run part of the business as a division general manager or serve in a C-level role. The best preparation is exposure to all 13 divisions. I didn’t choose a job or a position; I chose a company.
Desirable Traits to Be Successful in This Career
One desirable trait is the ability to get things accomplished. I have no specific training that was critical to getting this position, but I have a consistent track record of exceeding targets in a variety of challenging positions. I have a strong leadership background and have succeeded as a “change agent” in many situations.
My “newness” to this division is an asset in this position because I have no preconceived notions about how things should be. That was important to me, since I didn’t want to be in an MBA training program, but I still wanted a position at the right “level’ in the company (even though I have a lot to learn about the product).
To be successful here, you need to be a work hard/play hard type person—a “Type A” personality who can get things done and who isn’t overly concerned about end-of-the-year evaluations because they take care of themselves if you overachieve all year.
Words of Advice If You Are Considering This Career Path
Don’t fall into the MBA trap that you must be an investment banker, work in corporate finance, or start your own business to be successful. Many MBAs decide to take a more typical corporate position.
I did the investment banking “thing” last summer, and although I learned a lot, I’m happier in this type of job. Also, don’t be afraid to turn an offer down. I turned down two offers in a lousy economy and was unemployed for a month after graduation before I got the job that was right for me.
If you love to solve product and process problems in order to improve sales and profitability and you like to have a more direct impact on making things that improve people’s lives, this type of career path might be for you.
What I Did Before This (Including Pre-MBA and Post-MBA Jobs)
I was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2005. In that year, I joined Cirrus Logic as a production supervisor. In 2006, I joined my current company, which I believe is among the most respected companies in the world.
I did manufacturing quality engineering and Six-Sigma BB sourcing and worked as a cell leader before attending business school.
Educational Background (Undergraduate, MBA, Other)
- MBA, Rice University (Houston, Texas), 2012
- Bachelor of science, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, engineering, 1999
- GED diploma, SUNY Manhattan EOC, 1994
In MBA Programs, I’d Suggest You Look For…
I wanted to be in a smaller-sized program—I didn’t want to just be a number in the school program. It was nice knowing the faculty and other students by name and having them know who I was. I loved the small class sizes.
The personal nature of the program also enhanced class interaction and the overall value of my educational experience. I’m glad I went to a small, respected school.
It’s important to look at what type of program will work into your life, not just what school. After I announced I was leaving my job to attend the executive MBA program, my company made an arrangement with me to keep me on headcount and paid medical [benefits] while I went to the full-time program instead.
This allowed me to keep my years of service. Several years before, I had started a part-time program and was involved in a transfer overseas and a relocation. This time, I was able to get the MBA done in two years rather than the six years it would have taken part-time, and I didn’t have the risk of being interrupted again by a career move.