My Story

Okay, you’ve come this far suffering through my blatant self-promotion. Here is my story.

I found my calling during a summer job at Combustion Engineering (since bought by ABB). They had hired several college students to help digitally store their engineering drawings. The drawings were stored on film embedded in computer cards. Our job was to scan the cards for errors before they were scanned into the digital system. It was tedious work. After a few days I pulled the manager aside and told him, “I can write a computer program which will identify the common errors we’re finding in a matter of seconds”. It was my first software project. In a few days the program was up and running, all the other college students were re-assigned.

Combustion Engineering gave me a job out of college as a manufacturing engineer. First they rotated me through several of their manufacturing facilities where I learned everything from machining, welding, casting and electronic assembly. My first real job was as a production supervisor, but I soon was frustrated by management decisions which didn’t make sense to me. They were outsourcing work to other vendors because the fully-loaded accounting costs were greater than the vendor’s cost to produce the products. However, the plant’s equipment had been paid off years ago and had only been marked up recently on the books due to the sale to ABB. From a cash basis, manufacturing these items in-house was much cheaper than the vendor’s cost. My frustration at not being able to argue for something which seemed obvious led me to go to business school.

I attended Carnegie Mellon’s business school which is focused on business analytics and optimization. CMU taught me how to apply these techniques optimize a business’s operations.  My goal was to get a job in manufacturing to apply my new skills to help revitalize American industry.  However, this was the 90s and U.S. manufacturing was not strong and the job prospects were limited.  Like most business students I ended up in consulting, landing a job with Ernst & Young’s (E&Y) consulting practice in Charlotte, NC.

I was with E&Y for seven years and reached the level of Senior Manager.  E&Y is where I learned large program management and the need to simultaneously address people, process and technology issues.  E&Y sold the consulting practice to Gap Gemini at the same time the Internet bubble burst.  The sale and economy caused the business to shrivel up and I was laid off with most of the firm about a year later.  This was my chance to get back into manufacturing, so I began a job search.  While waiting for responses to my job applications I began calling other former E&Y consultants asking if they needed any temporary help.  I was sub-contracted to a small consulting firm within two weeks and twenty-two years later am still working as a freelance consultant.

That is my story.