What do you do?
I run the manufacturing work systems programme at the Pampers nappy manufacturing plant in Kempton Park, Gauteng. I oversee and manage the daily running of the factory, and some of my daily priorities include staff safety, education and training, maintaining our equipment and improving overall output and quality of nappies.
Essentially I'm all hands on deck (or the factory floor!) to ensure machines and humans work as a unit to produce a great nappy.
How did you get to this position?
I registered my CV on an online career website. My aim was to find a role with exposure to the entire supply chain, from raw material planning to manufacturing and shipping. I didn't have any specific ambitions other than to learn about each aspect, and I like change and fluidity. During the recruitment process I learnt more about Procter & Gamble (P&G) and its job rotation opportunities. It was a perfect fit. I joined in 2007 and I've been growing and developing ever since.
What do you love most about your job?
The people, the training, the environment. Being around huge machines gives me a buzz, and the technology is awe-inspiring - not dissimilar to being inside a space ship (I imagine). Another positive is that my job is so out of the ordinary - it's quite the conversation-starter!
Also, working with smart, talented people, who are driven by success, motivates me. I love my job and work in a really cool and inspiring place.
You have travelled quite extensively for work, how has this helped your career?
I've been fortunate to visit P&G offices in the US, Turkey, Germany, Poland and Saudi Arabia. The aim was to build my skills. Travelling has given me a larger resource pool to support my work at the plant. I've been able to see best-in-class work systems and apply some of those methodologies, and transfer my knowledge locally. I'd also say personally it's helped mould my world view and given me greater perspective on what's out there in the world and where our country is relative to that.
What advice would you have for people who are sent to other countries to work?
- Firstly, a good sense of humour always helps as you'll sometimes end up in some interesting situations. As South Africans, we love hand gestures, but remember they do not always translate seamlessly. At a petrol station in Turkey, I made the "fill up" hand gesture to the attendant, only to discover it's a "bring it on" type of invitation to brawl! We laughed it off, luckily,
- Secondly, make friends with the locals, they'll always be able to tell you the best places to go to. If there's a language barrier you'll be facing, either learn the basics or become very creative in getting your message across using sign language. See note above, though!
- Use international visits as a personal and professional learning opportunity - seize every moment and learn at every opportunity,
- Be proud of SA. In my travels to foreign-speaking countries, many locals didn't know SA, but say "Nelson Mandela" and they will be beaming and know exactly where you are from!
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I dreamt of being an astronomer and exploring uncharted territories. I was a very curious child and wanted to uncover the mysteries of the universe. Working in a factory with cutting-edge equipment and the brightest of people keeps my job fulfilling and satisfies my need for challenges and learning opportunities!
What do you find most challenging about your job?
Working in a high-pressure environment means I have to always keep a cool head and keep the production line running. The engineer in me ensures that happens!
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by the quality of people I get to work with and learn from. I have seen how people have grown from good to great. I'm always inspired by individuals who have taken their weaknesses and turned them into strengths.
I'm also inspired by our country. After visiting factories in first- world countries, I returned home filled with pride. We are hard on ourselves as South Africans, and often feel we are behind the curve in many respects.
But our factory, for example, is absolutely world class and our staff are on par.
What is your favourite time of day?
Early mornings, when the day is loaded with possibilities - perfect motivation to get pumped up and make some of those possibilities materialise.
Author: Margaret Harris
Source: Times Live