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Isn't It Time for the Career You've Always Wanted?

Most of us who have been in the engineering profession have had those moments where we pause and think, “there has got to be a better way." I'm not referring to solving a challenging engineering problem or developing a sustainable solution. I am referring to our careers, more specifically our relationship with our work and the people with whom we work.

If you are a seasoned engineer, be it mid-career or later in career, you’ve likely faced and overcome a number of challenging technical problems. You have been on and led small and large teams in problem solving stints, managed cross-functional teams through projects and advised leadership in their decision making. Making things better, solving problems, and fixing “stuff” is part of what you do and it makes you feel good. It is satisfying. It is why you probably became and engineer, a scientist and a problem solver in the first place. Yet something is not quite right. Something is missing. You feel it. Maybe you can even articulate it. However, you cannot fix it, you know this to be true, and it frustrates you.

What’s not right? Maybe it is the organization in which you work. Maybe it is the company or its culture. Maybe it's that guy in the next desk/cube (a sort of Dwight Schrute) that just does not take his work as serious as you. Regardless of the cause, it is impacting the level of satisfaction you know you should get from your vocation, your profession and your career. Well, isn’t it time for that career you’ve always wanted?

What most of us as scientists, engineers and problem solvers want is pretty simple: access to people, access to processes, a clear sense of purpose, partnerships, and problem solving tools. With permission to perform, and some problem solving tools, we can make things better; sometimes a lot better. As we coach and mentor those coming up the learning curve behind us, we are helping to develop the next generation of problem solvers. We have the training, skill, gusto and experience. We just need. . . everything else.

We need things like recognition, respect and trust. We need autonomy to investigate, explore, and to master our knowledge domain. Where are these things? They should be there. Sometimes they are, but rarely enough. So, Yes! At Process Alliance, we agree. There has to be a better way. In fact the phrase “there has got to be a better way” is how Process Alliance got started.

In 2018, a contingent of factory seasoned engineers who accepted early retirement, and were not satisfied that their careers had been fulfilled, created Process Alliance. Our purpose was, and it remains, to create a better model for how problems are solved and solutions are delivered. We provide capabilities and capacity to solve problems for our clients. Our experience and caring mindset brings calm to the chaos that sometimes enshrouds leaders and others in their organizations. Our people help our clients navigate change and achieve results.

What makes Process Alliance special is our culture, and thus our people. So many companies say this, but can they explain why? We can. Yes, we welcome into the Process Alliance (PA) family those with the right “technical chops”. But more importantly, we don’t just hire good technical people, we hire great character. We respect the humanity of each individual we evaluate, and we ultimately we hire the best personalities. Those individuals who put character above capabilities (a debatable choice for some institutions) are often PA material. Humility, caring, inextinguishable work ethic, self-awareness and awareness of those around them are all key PA attributes. We relish curiosity. We are a learning organization, and we practice this (internally) every day. Our learning model of choice is familiar to some: Plan-Do-Study-Adjust (thank you Shewhart and Deming). Our leadership team actually begins each weekly meeting with a reflection on our people performance in the past week. We look for good and not-so-good stories of our employees performance from which we can learn. We look for evidence of our ability to, or failure to, live up to our Mission, Values and Purpose. We look for Praiseworthy Performance. In these stories, we act to hold up and recognize our PA family member’s performance or their impact on our clients. And, even more important, and with grace, we coach and develop our people to be better - sometimes we find it is us, the leadership (yes top leaders) that need to change and improve. Does this strike you as a better way? We believe so.

Process Alliance is made up of engineers, scientists and a diversely educated support staff. Like a rope made from many strands we find strength in the combination of our Early in Career professionals and our Advanced Consulting Experts, called ACE’s at PA (humbly referred to as gray-hairs and no-hairs internally). We learn from each other drawing upon each person’s unique experiences, knowledge and mental models. We love to share this with our clients to help them solve problems in unique and effective ways. We also value our allied partnerships with other consulting firms. This is how we arrived at our name: Process Alliance. We choose to partner with like-mined organizations that demonstrably share our values. We help each other out and, again, we learn from each other.

At Process Alliance our purpose is to develop a better model for solving problems and delivering solutions. We work every day to be a better model. Our culture is our primary differentiator. Our culture depends on the people we attract, keep, and cultivate. If you are a seasoned engineer and you feel the appeal of what you just learned about us at Process Alliance; if you agree that there has to be a better way; if you want to be part of a learning organization seeking to build a better model for consulting; and if you want to play a part in developing the next generation of problem solvers then perhaps your answer to the title question above is. “Yes - it is time for that career I’ve always wanted.” If that's you, let's talk. Check out our website or contact anyone from our team directly.

About the author: Steve Ghera serves as Chief Operating Officer at Process Alliance. His career started when he was hired to Eli Lilly right out of school. He worked as a chemical engineer in manufacturing and in research and development for 31 years. After retiring from Eli Lilly, Ghera joined Process Alliance’s leadership team as Director of Operational Excellence.

For the last third of his career at Eli Lilly, Ghera taught Lean Six Sigma methodologies. He brings this experience to clients of Process Alliance by providing Lean Sixth Sigma learning materials he has developed, coaching leadership in process and operational improvement, and improving people and process capabilities while helping leaders and associates enjoy their work more. His expertise has helped lead many organizational transformations.

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