Written by: Wil Davis
It has been almost three weeks since my boss resigned, and the dust is finally starting to settle. With no immediate plans to hire a new category manager, it looks like the new status quo is starting to solidify. Although reporting to two different people, one of which is on another continent, can be difficult sometimes, it is a good experience. Cisco’s WebEx is becoming my new best friend. Along those same lines, working here at Mettler has introduced me to what seems like a cultural phenomenon – the European Vacation. In the U.S., most people take individual vacation days throughout the year, either for health or personal reasons, and at most a 1-2 week vacation during the summer. In Europe, things work quite differently. Rather than take lots of little “vacations,” people (MT employees, at least) take one massive vacation during the summer. Exhibit A: my boss is on a 4 week vacation and will not be back into the office until August 2nd! I don’t know about you, but I think being out of work that long would make it extremely difficult to get “back into the swing of things” afterwards. So much can change over a 4 week period, especially during a month in which financial results are released (Q2). This is apparently quite normal for European employees though, and it is a little piece of cultural variance that I find very interesting. I am also very impressed by their ability to jump right back into the fire after being away so long.
Back on the business side of things, my projects are progressing slowly but surely. I am in the process of building a supplier scorecard to use in the sourcing process for the new line of business we are entering. We are searching for 2-3 suppliers around the country to perform the middle step in the production process. What a supplier scorecard does is evaluates the potential suppliers based on any number of quantitative or qualitative criteria. Examples of criteria include lead time, return procedures, and process improvement initiatives. The suppliers are then graded based on how well they meet our minimum and target criteria, and we select the top scorers for the RFQ process.
The KPI reports that I am developing have grinded to a halt due to definition issues. Aside from these issues, I have learned another valuable lesson from working on these reports: you cannot be afraid to ask for the tools you need to get the job done, even as an intern. In my case, I exchange dozens of emails and, at the beginning of the project, spent hours on the phone everyday trying to define the metrics we were going to measure. When I asked my boss if I could just travel to Zurich for a week so that the discussions would be easier and more efficient than phone calls and emails for hours on end, he told me he agreed. As I was in the process of finding tickets, he came back and told me that his boss said I could not. Why? You guessed it, because I’m an intern. Unfortunately, there are now 4 or 5 of us who have to spend more time on these discussions than we otherwise would because we cannot have them face to face. The lesson I have learned is that you cannot be afraid to ask for the tools you need to get your job done, even if you are told no. Show your superiors that you are taking your tasks seriously and want to do the best job you can, even if you they tell you no.