By Jennifer Erb
2017-05-312017-05-31https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Rafael Silva was born and raised in Venezuela and had engineering in his DNA. His father is an Electrical Engineer and his uncles are Civil Engineers. Rafael came to America on a tennis scholarship from Freed-Hardeman University, where he studied Physics. Rafael wanted to combine his technical education with more of a managerial focus, so he transferred to Tennessee Tech. He eventually came to WVU to study Industrial Engineering. Rafael holds both a Physics degree from Freed – Hardeman and an Industrial Engineering degree from WVU.
Rafael worked while as an IE while in college and this led to 4/5 job offers when he graduated. He chose to work at Hecht’s a large retail store company. His initial job was being an area supervisor at a distribution center. He describes this job as the ideal starting point for a career. “You really need that minute-by-minute understanding of the work being done if you are going to have the insights to make change happen,” Rafael says.
Rafael’s career continued in supply chain applications for about a dozen years working in both the United States, Venezuela, and Colombia. Throughout these experiences, he was able to make remarkable improvements in labor productivity by applying basic Industrial Engineering practices.
In 2008, Rafael created Divergence, a consulting firm which specializes in work force productivity. Divergence has clients in both North America and South America. Divergence focuses on classic IE activities, but also has a software package that is useful in productivity benchmarking.
Rafael describes his move to an entrepreneurial career as one that has a long term focus. “I really like the career opportunities of working for myself,” he says. “The transition from a salaried position to an entrepreneurial career was challenging at first, but my wife was totally supportive. She even helped me get my first client.”
As Divergence has grown, Rafael has met additional challenges. “I’ve had to learn how to delegate and set priorities,” he says. Rafael also adds “how we do things matter, because our focus will directly impact our actions, and that is the basis for developing and sustaining a performance culture. That is our focus at Divergence.”
For students wanting to become entrepreneurs, Rafael comments that IE is the ideal degree, but he also cautions: “you have to spend time where the work is being done before you can be effective in recommending change. Also you need to learn how to make your recommendations seem less threatening to those in the work force.”
Rafael Silva graduated from Freed-Hardeman University and from West Virginia University with Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Industrial Engineering, respectively. With more than 17+ years operational and managerial experience in industrial engineering, quality, manufacturing, logistics and distribution, Mr. Rafael Silva has received high recognitions in the areas of Total Quality and Logistics in both the United States and Latin America. His efforts have lead the companies he represented to become, in record time, pioneers in the implementation of quality systems such as ISO 9000 y QS 9000. Additionally, his focus on improving processes in the supply chain industry and his applied experience in various LMS/WFM program implementation projects, as well as his experience in the development of labor standards using predetermined times methodologies and advanced technology, have lead to significant improvements in operations as well as in the identification of “keys-to-success practices” thus generating significant costs optimization and improved profitability for the companies he represented. Furthermore, the effective solutions provided by Mr. Silva in the areas of Work Measurement/Change Management and Labor Standards/LMS Implementations have been satisfactorily upheld by Union Organizations in the state of Indiana, USA. Mr. Rafael Silva has successfully held the positions of Industrial Engineer, Director of Logistics and General Manager in both North and South America. Mr. Silva currently resides in Chicago, IL where he leads Divergence, an Engineering and Technology Consulting Firm focusing on Labor Management Programs.