Faith Fights Facts represents my strength, my struggle, my past and my future.
Every year on this day, October 13th I'm reminded of how great our God is and I promised to continue to share my testimony which propelled me into my destiny. I was faced with one of the most challenging times of my life; laid off during the aftermath of the 2008/09 financial crisis. I had stepped away from my corporate job to use my education and experience for a higher calling. Many people thought I had gone into the ministry to preach but I actually volunteered to lead a $6.5 million community center project for a faith based organization while also joining their staff to serve as their Facilities and Security Director for three locations. Some of my colleagues told me that I was crazy for leaving it all behind, but I stood on my faith and I knew that it was my calling.
Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded!
One of my managers use to volunteer his team for all of the crappiest projects in the plant. These were the projects that no one wanted to do either because of complexity or perceived low return on investment or they were just down right filthy.
My first presentation at Dow Chemical was for an AUDIENCE OF ONE, the Site Maintenance Director.
I had been at Dow for 8 months and had some decent progress on some of my goals and projects. One Friday afternoon my manager comes into my office, sits down and starts with his routine, daily chat. About 10 minutes into the conversation he mentions that on Monday the Site Maintenance Director will be coming to the building to perform his one on one goal meeting and that he’d like me to spend some time with him...a kind of a meet and greet session. He asked me to be prepared to discuss everything that I had done so far that creates value. His request totally blindsided me! I was not prepared to talk about my projects yet alone share the value that they would create!
Make no mistake about it, I have had rough experiences throughout my career but God has kept me as I’ve gone through each one of them. This is one of those times....
A lack of collaboration hurts your bottom-line, so why don't we collaborate more?
Relationships are the currency of leadership, without people, an organization would lose its purpose and value. So why wouldn’t we want to increase our value by engaging in more positive relationships? I think it’s not up for debate, everyone would absolutely love to create more value through the relationships they form because poor collaboration reduces quality, productivity, and profits.
There’s been plenty of hype surrounding collaboration in industry sectors but does it actually have an impact as much as we think it does?
I recently sat in a Diversity and Inclusion town hall meeting and the key takeaways from one of the company's Vice Presidents were:
This blog post is actually not a blog at all, but more of a knowledge sharing post. The below links are a few helpful resources that I have shared over the years to help entry level Instrument Reliability Engineers in understanding basic theory. I've also included a few sections of the Instrumentation Reliability Manual from the Materials Technology Institute (MTI) publication in 2007 (click here for zip file). Combined with the videos, these reference materials have helped me become the engineer that I am today. Enjoy!
MTI Instrumentation Reliability Manual:
First Edition, 2007 (zip file).
Coriolis Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIIViaNITIw
Vortex Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmTmDM7jHzA
Differential Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUd4WxjoHKY
Magnetic Principle - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f949gpKdCI4
Thermal Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSUY4sbJAI8&list=PLGoFgIyv5lgu9pjSUadGx294DjvAZMyYt&index=6
Ultrasonic Principle - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx2RnrfLkQg
Pitot Tube Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6sbzkYq3_c&index=20&list=PLGoFgIyv5lgu9pjSUadGx294DjvAZMyYt
Electronic Differential Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eym_D3tGw1E
Vibration Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyjfBDWZUcs
Radar Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvPRriWINIE
Capacitive Principle - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs_TYQKYJlM&list=PL1DB9E6C3C8B96EE0&index=7
General - http://www2.emersonprocess.com/en-us/brands/rosemount/temperature/temperature-insights/rtd-vs-thermocouple/pages/index.aspx
General - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB42PFTd4hQ
General - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEswq3NGraw,
My most humbling career experience came during my first electrical construction project where I had to relocate a substation from one area of the plant to another to make room for a new manufacturing assembly line. I spent weeks measuring and designing the system and just before I ordered the equipment ($150,000) I asked the electrician assigned to the job whether or not I had accounted for everything. The electrician asked me if I had built in a 20-25% design factor. I said, “We should be ok. I’ll order an extra 15% of cable”. He said, “Alright but you’re cutting it close”. I thought some more about it and decided to take his advice.
We were down to the last few days of the plant shutdown and today was the day that we were to terminate the cable to the transformer. As the team lowered the high voltage cable from the ceiling, one of the guys said, “We’re not going to have enough cable”!! Man did I pray that it would be enough (for large electrical conductors you do not want to splice the cable because of the failure risks, plus this was BRAND NEW cable). Long story short, we had 5 feet to spare and the plant was still on schedule to start up on Monday. Whew!!
Why was it so close? Well, I didn’t factor in the following,
experience > education.
How should you GROW your professional development?
One relationship at a time.
There are 3 topics that I think are key for a young professional’s development and whenever I partner with a new mentee, we spend most of our time exploring these:
1. Understanding Your Value - the company or organization that hired you is expecting that you can perform a series of tasks. You should invest some time understanding how you create value when completing those tasks.
2. Building Relationships - Your relationships and not talent alone will help you to accelerate your development and how you approach this concept will be a measure of how quickly you gain the respect of your peers.
3. Leveraging Your Strengths - Even though your resume is a work in progress, you have strengths that can be leveraged to harvest some quick wins.
Each of the three concepts are important and the one that has helped me the most is #2, building relationships. I remember many years ago, one of my mentors taking me to visit each of our customers before I was given any projects. He knew that after the first 90 days, I would be engulfed with work and that it would be more difficult to secure these foundational relationships. So as we met many clients over 20+ plants, the key stakeholders knew who I was and what I could offer. I observed him as he spent 20-30 minutes just talking about life outside of the plant before engaging in technical discussions. We would eventually get to the original purpose of why we were there (which he was also very good at) but he understood the importance of having a respectful relationship with his peers and clients.
Because of this, I advise young professionals to learn about the people before they learn about the process and their projects.
#1 is another story for another time however #3 ties directly into #2 because as you work towards establishing relationships, you also have an opportunity to learn about some of your teammates challenges. It’s very likely that you can use your strengths to address some of their needs.
In one job I started, I brought over a Six Sigma skillset and I was able to leverage my knowledge of the tools to help another peer complete a project. In turn, this teammate taught me everything he knew about Electrical Breaker and Switchgear. Even though I had only been there a few months, I developed a new relationship by solving a problem while also learning the technical aspects of my new job. It was a quick, win-win for both of us!
My first lesson in reliability engineering was taught by a now 45 year experienced instrument technologist. He said, “If it was made by man, it will fail one day and our job is to catch it before it does”. I definitely learned a lot from this gentleman over the years and I attribute much of my success to this one fundamental learning. It does not matter if the equipment or asset is at home, work or across the landscapes we travel, I have yet to observe a technology that is 100% reliability without any intervention. The most basic, common activity we can apply to achieve top reliability is our maintenance strategies.