By Jennifer Erb
2017-04-182017-04-18https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
IMSE Undergrad Class of 2016
What does the company do? GE Power is a world leader in power generation with deep domain expertise to help customers deliver electricity from a wide spectrum of fuel sources. We are transforming the electricity industry with the digital power plant, the world’s largest and most efficient gas turbine, full balance of plant, upgrade and service solutions as well as our data-leveraging software. Our innovative technologies and digital offerings help make power more affordable, reliable, accessible and sustainable.
Headquartered in Schenectady, New York, GE Power is GE’s largest industrial business, with approximately $27 billion in revenue in 2016 and more than 55,000 employees serving customers in more than 150 countries.
Current role: Supplier Quality Engineer – Generator & Steam Turbine (Operations Management Leadership Program Rotation 1)
How I get to my current role:
A day in life of a supplier quality engineer – Let’s break it down this way: a Supplier Quality Engineer, or SQE, is responsible for bridging the communication between final assembly and the shop floor and the part suppliers. In Schenectady, we perform generator and steam turbine final assembly, so we import all the parts and assemble on site. So we have engineers that order the parts, and my job is to ensure their quality. It’s an amazing balance of supplier travel (local and international), desk work, and hands-on shop floor experience. You wear many hats as an SQE! It would be the equivalent of if you ordered something from Amazon and it wasn’t what you wanted – you go back to Amazon, return the item, ask what happened, check the new item to make sure it hasn’t happened again, etc. I do the same thing for generator and steam turbine parts.
This rotation, my work environment has been rather flexible. For SQE’s who are dealing with local suppliers, “in the office from 8 to 5” is a norm but not a requirement. Some team members work from home 2-3 times a week. It certainly doesn’t mean work isn’t getting done! For me, I’m always in the office, but for days when I’m not, I’m connected. It is not unusual to check/get emails at odd hours. I’ll field phone calls at 4am from China, or 10pm with Japan. My hours might be 8-5, and I may have the flexibility to work from home when necessary, but I’m never not at work!
Below is an example of a typical day for me:
5:00AM – My day starts at 5 with my dogs, Remi & Ryder. We take a nice hour-long walk. I listen to a podcast or two, or I’ll read the news or check email on my phone. I work heavily with Chinese suppliers, so it’s nice sometimes to catch them while they’re still in the office. By now I’m 2 cups of coffee deep and less grumpy.
7:30AM – I leave my apartment. My work is only 3 miles from home, so it takes about 10-15 minutes depending on traffic. Dress code is smart casual, which means jeans are acceptable. I change into my work boots once in the office.
8:00AM – I arrive a little earlier than 8am to grab more coffee (yes, more) and make breakfast. I check my calendar, write a quick to-do list for the day (that always changes) and I check for any GE news pertinent to me. I work in Schenectady, NY, which is GE Power’s headquarters, so there’s usually something exciting going on.
8:30AM – The first meeting of my day is with the Warranty team to dispute any quality issues in the field. These calls are to discuss when an active power plant experiences a quality issue and how we (or the supplier of the defective parts) will pay for this incident. Costs on these calls range from a minimum of $10,000 to $3.5 million – tensions are always high when the company might have to cover these costs!
9:00AM – I head to the factory floor for our morning quality walk. I go through the different cells in the plant and we meet with production and engineering teams to ensure parts are coming in on time and are of the highest quality. If there’s an issue, I could spend the rest of my day out here fielding questions from the hourly associates.
10:00AM – Another meeting with my teammates over in Poland. Since GE acquired Alstom last year, half of my team of 10 people work over in the UK and Europe. Typically, this is a quick call to touch base with daily updates, then I’m back out to the shop floor or I’m calling suppliers regarding quality issues.
(Note: Since my company has transitioned into Global organization with the Alstom acquisition, we now work closely with teams from all over the world to share expertise so the calls are typically in the morning to accommodate the time zones differences)
12:30PM – A quick email check and I’m leaving the plant for lunch to go walk the dogs. The benefit of living so close to work is that I can let them out and grab food at my place. It’s a good mental break sometimes when I’m stressed out.
2:00PM – I’m back in the office by 1:30, so I reassess my afternoon to-do list and continue. Usually I have a meeting with production or engineering for quality as we head into second shift. Quality doesn’t end on 1st shift, so I should make sure we have coverage for the evening.
4:10PM – Depending on how crazy the shop floor has been, I’m either at my desk sending emails or working on residual tasks that have slipped through the cracks – this is my “catch-up” time. If it’s a busy day like normal, I do my catching up on emails and desk work around 5pm. On a typical day, I’m out by 5:30, but recently I’ve been leaving closer to 6. My rule of thumb is that I never leave the office with something/someone waiting on my action. If there’s an email I need to send, I answer it. I start every morning fresh, since I don’t want the work to pile up.
5:30/6PM?? – Time to head to the gym before heading home for the evening
Why choose a career in the power industry? Why choose GE? If you asked me this 2 years ago, I would’ve screamed “DON’T” to both of those questions. Corporate businesses and their politics scared me – I didn’t want to be a number at a company, I wanted people to know who I am and what I do. This year has proven me SO wrong! The power industry is lucrative and dynamic – when will this world not need power solutions? Never. And corporate America isn’t so bad – great benefits, awesome culture, and the people I work with are so experienced on all levels that I get to learn all day, every day! I don’t regret my decision to work here at all.
What’s the end goal? I’m saying this honestly: I don’t know! I haven’t had enough experience to know what I want to be when I grow up. For now, I’m focused on my current role and doing the best possible job I can. I figure opportunities will open from there pending my performance is good enough. If we can be vague, though, I want a career in which my life is balanced and I go into work every day passionate about what I do.
Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college – Your boss doesn’t care if you show up for work at 8am or at 8:15am, nor do they care if you leave at 4pm or 7pm. They want to see work being accomplished. You are responsible for balancing your life in and out of the office. I didn’t expect to have this much flexibility, but also to have this much pressure to find the right balance that allows me to get my work done! Also call your mom, thank her, and tell her you love her – laundry and maintaining a home is no small task, my friends.
Least favorite thing about corporate – The layoffs – they happen, and EVERYONE is vulnerable. I’ve seen many of my friends become affected by the business dynamic recently. Corporate only sees base cost reduction; they don’t see the people with families who are forced to find a new job.
My 2 cents – Find several mentors for yourself: a few for your professional development, and a few for your personal growth (someone who is where you want to be 5, 10, 20+ years from now). Get book recommendations from them and read whenever you get the chance!