Voices of Fisher’s Business Partners
Fisher embraces lasting connections with business partners at all levels – with 2009 marking the 17th year of one of the college’s most successful business-academic collaborations – the Center for Operational Excellence (COE).
Spotlighted here are an established and new Fisher COE member – Cardinal Health, a global healthcare products and services company, and Aggreko, a worldwide leader in temporary power, compressed air, and temperature-control solutions.
The catalyst for Cardinal Health joining Fisher’s COE in 2006 was the company’s decision to launch an enterprise-wide operational excellence platform. “It was a fabulous opportunity for us to tap into local thought leadership in the operational excellence space, and expand our network,” recalls Bill Owad, SVP of Operational Excellence. “Fisher is really well connected across a diverse set of industries and geographies.”
Owad leads Cardinal Health’s operational excellence platform, and is helping the company become more externally focused. He says changing the company’s culture “requires a change in how we interact with one another, how we think about the customer and how we think about value creation. Our relationship with the center helps us refine our thinking in all of these (areas).”
As part of the company’s commitment to give back to the community, Cardinal Health frequently hosts employees to speak on Fisher’s campus. Over the last two summers, the firm has hired seven Fisher interns to work in its Dublin, Ohio, headquarters.
“Students ask great questions so it also forces us to stay on top of our game. It’s a great two-way interchange,” says Owad, adding that Fisher grads are “inquisitive, analytical and strategic thinkers.”
Owad’s enthusiasm for Fisher is shared by new COE member Mark Sheppard, VP of Process Improvement for Aggreko’s North American headquarters.
His company delivers temporary solutions (power, temperature control, and oil free air) to many sectors including major events such as President Obama’s inauguration to the Beijing Summer Olympics. Despite double-digit annual growth, Aggreko was experiencing lower customer satisfaction scores due in large part to the administrative functions such as timely order processing.
“Aggreko grew up in an entrepreneurial-type environment that wasn’t real process driven. We weren’t scaling at all. It was taking us significant more resources to keep growing,” says Sheppard.
COE is helping Aggreko develop a process improvement program focused on improving internal processes from initiation of an order to collecting cash, and enhancing technician productivity using mobile technologies. In addition to webinar training, Aggreko staff also flew to Ohio State for a week of training.
“We’re just getting started, but already Fisher has helped us think about our requirements and create a program that works for us,” explains Sheppard. “COE faculty members serve as an important information source to learn the pitfalls of where other people have gone wrong…to help us avoid similar issues.”
Sheppard says insights he’s gleaned from Fisher will be felt across Aggreko. “By the end of the year this program will have physically touched one-third of our workforce in North America,” predicts Sheppard. “We’ve never had a program of this kind at Aggreko. It’s about getting it imbedded in the way we do business,” he says.