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Voices of participants
(Action Learning Program)


[Name] Marty Todd

[Business Unit] Industrial Materials

[Company] Engineered Sintered Components Corporation (ESC)

[Position] Vice President – Operations

[Location] Troutman, North Carolina, USA

[Description of Business] Powder Metal Component Manufacturing – Predominant Sales for Automotive Industry

*All the contents stated here are based on the interview that was held in 2012.

What are the details of your career to date?

In April 1997, I joined Engineered Sintered Components, a Sumitomo Electric Group company specializing in the production of powder metal components for the automotive industry. I have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, so my first position with the company was in the manufacturing engineering department developing automation systems for the factory. Within a few years, I became the department manager and eventually added responsibility of the maintenance and facilities groups in 2003. I held this position for about five and a half years before being promoted to Vice President of Operations in 2009, with oversight of all manufacturing and support departments.

About Action Learning Program

In late 2010, I was given the opportunity to be a member of the first Action Learning team outside of Japan. This was a great honor, but also a large responsibility, as none of us wanted to disappoint SEI management. We could also clearly see that it was our chance to contribute directly to the overall growth and development of the overseas division.

Our team was comprised of members from three of the North American subsidiary companies of SEI Group. Each company was from a different business unit, so our individual perspectives could bring different viewpoints based on our respective experiences. The task our team was given was “How to form a stronger group of US manufacturing employees in the SEI Group”. This seemed like a broad assignment, but early on through discussions between team members, we could see that we all faced similar challenges and had like weaknesses in the monozukuri skill of our work force.

Through the process of our action learning assignment, we had the opportunity to study organizations that were viewed as successful within the United States. We purposely chose companies that were transplants somewhat similar to SEI, but also some that were drastically different in their origins and management structure. This gave us good insight as to positive and negative components in each organization. From these comparative results, we could find certain aspects that were consistent within each successful organization that we built upon to propose our recommendation. In short, our conclusion was that the US Sumitomo Electric Group companies needed to improve our training and developmental programs by working together across business units with support and interaction by the SEI corporate departments.

After our presentation to the board members and other action learning teams in Dec 2010, it became evident to us that our assessment matched closely with the programs already progressing within the SEI corporate divisions. We were pleased that our conclusion was consistent with their direction, but also realized that our job was not complete at the end of the action learning assignment – it was only beginning.

After the Action Learning Program

Over the past year, we have successfully developed the US SMDC (US Sumitomo Electric Monozukuri Development Committee) based on our recommendation to the board members. This committee is comprised of members from each of the US subsidiary companies and chaired by another of the initial team members, Jon Cornelius, General Manager of SWPC - Dickson. We have monthly teleconferences to discuss group directives and how we can assist each other in the application of SEI corporate initiatives. With the new Monozukuri Fundamentals Assessment program created by SEI, we now have a clear standard of the expectations for each company and can utilize this format to audit and benchmark against each other to promote overall improvement within the overseas group.

In January, we completed the first annual on-site committee meeting and group assessment and hosted by ESC. This was a very successful session that gave us the chance to see how each company was applying the MFA auditing process and corresponding improvement activity. We also audited our facility with the group and representatives from the SEI production engineering and quality departments. This type of activity will help to ensure that each company has a clear understanding of the auditing process, and it also gives the host company an unbiased, outside view of its operations and management systems.

Through collaboration with the Human Resource committee in the US, we have also been able to implement an online training program that each of the subsidiary companies can use for interactive, web-based training of their employees. This type of system was one specific improvement the team members prioritized after seeing similar programs during our investigation phase of the Action Learning assignment. It has just recently been launched for use over the past few months, but we can already see that its impact will be immeasurable in the upcoming years.

Although the balance between daily responsibilities, the initial Action Learning task, and our subsequent SMDC activity has been challenging, it is also most rewarding. We are definitely seeing a more collaborative group of companies that can support each other in the US, as well as, provide a better gateway for SEI Headquarter to the individual subsidiaries. I’m sure that our activity will continue to expand this cohesion and drive improvement activity within the organization for years to come.

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