Building on my nature
There is a story behind the reason why you are reading this essay. It began several summers ago when I worked for a summer in my Grandpa’s ice manufacturing and distribution business. As most summer jobs for a fourteen-year-old kid, my job consisted of simple stuff such as cycle counting of inventory of plastic bags, logging electrical power consumption of equipment, and checking supply inventory to place purchase orders when items reached a reordering point. As simple as my tasks were, they were my first opportunity to understand the importance of measuring and controlling data.
Next summer, I participated in helping in a more relevant project: the optimization of the
distribution network used by my Grandpa to bring his ice to hundreds of selling points. He hired a consultant to crunch the numbers and modify the distribution routes, and I helped in the project by logging the distance traveled by each truck and the volume of the product delivered. The project resulted in about a 20% reduction in the distance traveled by all the trucks, and that represented a huge saving in fuel and truck depreciation for the business. That was my first experience with the concept of process optimization.
The following year my Grandpa took me to the final ice packaging station of his manufacturing plant and told me: “Son, you see all those people working over there packaging ice? I guess we have too many people working here, and I am short of people in the distribution trucks.” He later showed me what a time-motion study was, and we looked at a couple of videos about it. He asked me to find a way to reduce the number of people in the packaging station and transfer them to work in the trucks. I spent the following month observing the operations, making videos, and analyzing them with friends who I invited to brainstorm ideas of ways to reduce the labor. We questioned all the activities done, and came up with a list of improvements that could be done to the process (many of them cheap stuff such as providing workers with a utility dolly). We tested all the ideas and adopted the ones that worked; the whole project resulted in the reduction of six people from the packaging station and their transfer to the distribution trucks. At that point, it was clear to me that all processes can be improved, and I started to wonder where I could find the tools to improve everything I wanted to improve.
For my last summer internship, I wanted to try something different and away from numbers and processes, so I worked in a law firm. I did several tasks to get an understanding of what a law firm does; however, I found myself gravitating to something that by now is clear I have a passion for, process improvement. One of my summer projects was organizing a pile of several years of documents that required to be sorted out by the company and by date. Sorting out the documents did not provide any learning opportunity for me, but designing a new method for the staff to use and avoid that pile of accumulated documents in the future was. It was very rewarding, the feeling of creating a new method from scratch, and most importantly, I learned that processes are everywhere and require improvement everywhere, including a law firm.
That is the story behind the reason I became a person with a passion for process improvement to make everything faster, cheaper, and better, from manufacturing processes like packing for family vacations to reducing my Mom’s trips to the supermarket by reorganizing the house supplies.
Industrial Engineering is the field that best fits my nature and will provide me with the tools I need to grow and become a great professional in process improvement.
Jorge Sequeira is a senior at St. Augustine Preparatory School. He is the co-captain of the men’s varsity volleyball team. This role has given him the chance to become his best self and help his teammates achieve their goals every day. Jorge can be found at the gym, playing soccer, playing tennis, or any other sport. He enjoys having an active day and being athletic. Jorge wants to study industrial engineering once he graduates from school.