By Jennifer Erb
2017-03-292017-03-29https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
IMSE Undergraduate Class of 2011
The Hershey Company
What does the company do? The Hershey Company is one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. The company owns over 80 snacking and confection brands and employs nearly 21,000 employees across the globe.
Current role: Business Unit Leader, Stuart’s Draft Plant
How did I get to my current role?
I also earned an MBA from The University of North Carolina (2015-2017) while working at The Hershey Company. Earning an MBA has helped me reach higher level management roles and will ultimately help me achieve my long-term career goals.
A day in life of a Business Unit Leader (Sr. Manufacturing Manager) – Each and every day in manufacturing is exciting and unique – that’s what I love about it! In my role, I’m responsible for ensuring we produce quality products in a safe environment within our operating budget. I have 24/7 responsibility for five production lines and nearly two hundred employees, so there’s always something going on! For the most part, I have the flexibility to make my own schedule. I try to touch base with all three shifts each day, and when I’m not here I aim to empower my line leaders to oversee the operations and be the decision makers.
Here’s an example of a recent day I’ve had:
6:30AM – Arrive at the plant. I drop my stuff off in my office, put on my hard hat and head to the production floor. 3rd shift is wrapping up for the night. I walk around and ask several operators how their night is going. One operator explains that we struggled with peanut butter consistency last night. I checked the quality control system. Sure enough, we had been struggling to remain within our upper and lower control limits. I take some notes and thank her.
7:40AM – Every day I lead a Daily Direction Setting Meeting. At this meeting, we quickly review metrics from the previous day and set priorities for the current day. The meeting is attended by all cross-functional groups across the plant. Each department representative has a specific role in the meeting. We focus on quick, efficient communication. We have a clear agenda, and I even set a timer to keep us on track. I bring up the peanut butter issue and we assign resources. After the meeting, I return to my office to check email.
8:00AM – It’s time for capital budgeting. In this meeting we discuss capital projects that the plant engineers are currently working on. We talk about how we are trending against our annual capital budget. One of the other business unit leaders brings a new project to the table, $25K electrical controls upgrades. We discuss the project as a group and decide to fund the project.
9:00AM – Weekly report out. Each week, I prepare a financial summary of my operations. Reports from all plants are compiled and sent to all leaders across supply chain, include our senior vice presidents. Business Unit Leader names are included in the report – so I’m hoping my financials look good this week! I don’t want to see any red lines next to my name! Whew – looks like all my lines performed well! After submitting the report, I send a few emails to my team leads to recognize them for a great week.
10:00AM – A new production line is being installed in my business unit early next year. Today we have the equipment vendors in from Germany. I spend a few hours with the vendor discussing equipment speeds, process layout, and sanitary design. While designing a new production line, it’s important to think about how the operators will interact with the line (ergonomics) and how we’ll clean the line to ensure we keep our food products safe (sanitary design).
12:30PM – Time for lunch! I like to take this opportunity to leave the plant for a quick mental break.
1:00PM – Conference call to discuss a new product that might be made on one of my lines. The cross-functional team discusses the sales forecast, seasonality, and launch timing. It sounds like a really innovative idea! We schedule a follow-up call to discuss running a plant trial.
2:00PM – My meetings are over for the day. I’m going to take this opportunity to spend more time on the production floor. I follow-up on a few outstanding items from our last audit. We’re implementing Lean Manufacturing in my business unit, so as I make my way around the plant, I visually check to make sure we’re adhering to our control systems (5S, defect handling, centerlines, etc.)
4:30PM – Time to head home! One of the pros of going to work early – there’s still plenty of daylight left after work! I call a friend and we decide to take our dogs for a hike before dinner!
What’s the end goal? My ultimate goal is to become the Chief Operations Officer at a Fortune 500 company, maybe even Hershey! My career has been operations-focused to this point, with each role increasing in responsibility. These roles have allowed me to gain strong foundational knowledge in supply chain. After this role, it is my intention to move to the commercial side of the business and gain an understanding in category management and sales.
Why manufacturing/supply chain? I remember sitting in your shoes not very long ago. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew one thing – it wasn’t going to be supply chain or manufacturing! Here I am, eight years after my first co-op and I’m leading a chocolate production plant! My biggest surprise after college was how exciting manufacturing can be, especially if you love the products. My takeaway here is to be open-minded; try different things! You really don’t know how much you may like or dislike a career path until you’re able to gain some insight and experience in that field.
My 2 cents – Be Kind. Just being kind and respectful has paid dividends in my career! When you’re just starting out, you don’t know as much as you might think. You’re going to rely on people of all levels in all roles to teach you and share their knowledge with you. Nurture these relationships. A simple thank you will go a long way.