Just keeping the IP Blog It Forward rolling along!
What event(s) led to your career choice?
I had always excelled at Math so it wasn’t a surprise that I went to college for it or that I wanted to pursue a career in it. But, I moved away from pure mathematics and more into applied math as my undergraduate studies progressed. And, graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, lots of companies wanted me for my computing skills but Alcoa offered a Mathematical Scientist position in their research and development facility. This was an opportunity to develop computer-based models incorporating optimization and other techniques. Alcoa then sent me back to school for a Master’s degree in Operations Research and as a Visiting Research Scientist in the Robotics Institute (again, at Carnegie Mellon). I worked on numerous projects in the plants and learned how to manage, plan and schedule aluminum plants (as well as steel plants later in my career). So, with a solid background in metals and then glass and building materials from working at PPG Industries, being an Industry Principal for Mill Products and Mining is a natural position for me.
What is the most fun project you ever participated in and why?
Years ago, while I was at Alcoa, I was the youngest member and the only person from the “corporate” team to be on the Production Planning and Scheduling project at three of Alcoa’s largest plants. The other team members were the leads of the production planning and scheduling departments at those plants. They knew so much about the plants, how they operated and they spent time explaining it to me. It was a lot of fun to walk the plants as a newer employee with some of the most important people in the plant. And, they took the time to introduce me to everyone and explain how aluminum plants are operated. I remember talking to the machine operators and learning the details of production scheduling. I also remember joking with them about my role – “I am from corporate, I am here to help”.
What are you passionate about Professionally and/or Personally?
I am passionate about collecting information, analyzing it and making an informed decision. So, whether this applies to my IP role – researching companies, understanding what they do and then crafting a value message for them or, in my personal life – researching new electronic equipment or a car, looking at the specifications, the numbers, I tend to do a rather thorough analysis. Although, I have learned to tailor the analysis to the specific situation – not just to analyze for the sake of analysis.
What is the best on the job lesson learned that you would like to share with others?
Do the easy things that people ask of you. The difficult ones are that way for a reason but try to help as much as you can, even if it seems easy to you.
Joyce Swanke blogged it forward to me.