Blog posts by Michael O'Donnell

What's next for the automobile industry?

June 13, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

In the almost decade since the worst economic recession of the 21st century, several industries have shown resilience. Foremost of these industries is the automotive market. Not only have global sales reached a record high in 2016, but the operating margins are growing quickly as well. According to research presented by Capital IQ, average operating margins for the top 100 automotive market suppliers were able to jump above pre-recession levels by 2010, just a year from their record low. The problem with this success is that the view from behind the curtain is very different. A report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the trends within the automotive industry for 2017 mentions some careful considerations for both investors and manufacturers. Many Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers are fighting to earn back the cost of capital. Returns to investors have been noticeably below index standards. The companies that have survived were able to grow by the distribution of market share owned by those companies who were forced to tap out. The PwC report acknowledges these hardships while presenting encouraging solutions for OEMs and suppliers. Innovation to the Rescue Suppliers for leading automotive brands come in all shapes and sizes, from large mechanical

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How Ordinary Management Can Become Extraordinary Leadership

May 18, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

Ordinary management is crucial. The ability to step into a situation, understand the complex web of intertwining relationships, and manage the people and resources to accomplish a goal are critical skills for all executives. According to Mike Chitty in his article, “Ordinary and Extraordinary Leadership”, management is the efficiency-based, improvement-oriented focus on the present situation. Ordinary simply means the implementation of well-known principles to a situation that is relatively black and white. He makes sure to note that ordinary is difficult, and should in no way be undervalued, with even the best managers needing years of practice to master it. Leadership, while not mutually exclusive of management, is the visionary focus on the future. Extraordinary applies to the implication that the solution to a situation is not clear, that there is disagreement and absolutely no guarantee that the steps taken to solve a problem will succeed. The greatest executives within a company must be both managers and leaders. According to Mike Chitty, the set of skills common to all extraordinary leaders includes: Creativity and political/emotional intelligence, confidence, and the ability to work through disagreement. An extraordinary leader will apply an iterative process of hypothesizing, testing, measuring, learning, and trying again.

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How to Solve Your Top Workforce Challenges

February 27, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

According to a 2014 study conducted by Oxford Economics and SAP, two-thirds of manufacturers have made only slight or moderate progress toward meeting strategic workplace goals. This is due in part to a number of obstacles, including a shortage of workers and lack of resources to help foster better employee engagement and retention. Companies in this study, which totaled around 2,700 and spanned multiple industries and regions, also noted that engaging young people and attracting skilled employees were among the top issues they face – hardly surprising, as nearly 3.5 million positions will need to be filled by 2020. Are there ways for manufacturers – regardless of company size, industry, or amount of revenue – to tackle these challenges head-on without compromising assets or sacrificing talent? Absolutely. The following are examples of tips and tools capable of guiding you toward a healthy, sustainable pipeline of workers, which ultimately spells success for you and your company. Engage employees… and become more productive as a result! While time should definitely be invested in getting new, skilled workers in place, your existing workforce is just as important. Keep your employees engaged by offering them choices and opportunities to participate in operations and company

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4 Guaranteed Ways to Recruit Millennials for Manufacturing Jobs

February 13, 2017 by Michael O'Donnell

Standing at more than 80 million people, millennials are among the largest and most-studied generation to date. Studies, blogs, and other media have touched on their tech savviness and what seems like an innate ability to multitask… but not a high level of engagement in traditional jobs, especially in manufacturing. In fact, according to a 2015 Gallup poll, a mere 28 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 considered themselves engaged at work. This is due to a number of factors. The perception of manufacturing is often negative, associated with unsafe equipment and old-fashioned assembly lines like that of the early 20th century. This also contributes to the myth that employees are often stressed, overworked, and treated poorly in a factory setting. While businesses and community organizations are now taking the next steps toward quashing these misconceptions, your company may benefit by changing the way you approach young workers for prospective employment. The following are steps you can take toward getting a younger, more sustainable pipeline and attracting today’s young people to jobs in manufacturing: Create a clear and compelling picture of advanced manufacturing. Because most millennials are digital natives, technology is a cornerstone of their way

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