There is Always a New Challenge - An American Rotational Engineer in Germany

Moving to a new job can be quite a challenge. A person has to learn about his/her new colleagues, what kinds of problems he or she will have to deal with during the day, and getting used to a new work environment. Transferring from one plant to another is difficult, and working in a foreign atmosphere is different. Instead of learning new names and different processes, one of the MacLean-Fogg American rotational engineers had to learn how to live in a place where he didn’t understand simple things in his daily life. Going to the store or asking for help were stressful, at first. He wasn’t comfortable. After some months of dealing with a foreign land, working on simple Quality projects, and going to German class about 10 hours per week, his German became good enough that he could function and start asking questions.

The best part about coming into a new company was that this young engineer was able to see what happens with fresh eyes. He found that when he started working on his main project, asking the right questions shed light on how much the people in the division he was working in really knew about their processes. Sometimes these processes happen because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Other times, they are because any other way is just too complicated to manage. In order for him to work on correcting these types of problems, it was important for him to communicate clearly with his colleagues. Even though there was a language barrier, it was often easier than he thought to get the message across.

This American rotational engineer had been tasked with correcting tooling availability using some of the company’s OT concepts such as Visual Management, 5S, Standard Work, etc. His colleagues trusted him when he wanted to remove 500 tools from their system or change the status of 200 products to inactive. Getting to know his colleagues really helped him to form a team with a similar mindset and helped with people trusting him more. The team was able to share thoughts and expertise with each other much better than before. It helped to drive a creative spirit.

The latest portion of his project had been focusing on making sure the correct information got to the people who needed it. Part of this had been to work with colleagues from different departments and assign each of the team members a task to check the department’s information. This was intended to help everyone take responsibility and use their data to show where they might have failed, instead of trying to push the task onto someone else from their “gut feelings.” By looking at the company’s history, they were able to find different methods to make sure their databases held current information. Now, they need to monitor their process to see how many of their availability problems can be solved, and what other new ones have developed.

It hasn’t been easy to convince everyone that this is the best solution to correct problems, but after some meetings and conversations in his best Deutsch, he thinks he has convinced them that it is a solid start.

Feeling this confident at work allowed him to feel comfortable outside of work as well. Going out and exploring was simpler once he had confidence communicating with his colleagues. That has helped him feel comfortable living in Germany for over a year. He even asked to stay there for an extra 6 months because of the supportive atmosphere of his colleagues.

This American rotational engineer is very lucky that he is working in a company that sends young professionals to another continent for valuable work and life experiences. His experience through his two rotations has been very beneficial. He encourages others to take advantage of opportunities when they are available. Thank you to all those involved in helping this young rotational engineer have this experience.

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