- On December 1, 2022
Maria Mara – MassMEP Employee Highlights
Maria Mara joined MassMEP as a Project Manager in the spring of 2022. She describes her job with energy and enthusiasm, “What we do is very exciting because we meet and work directly with our customers. We work with everyone across our client’s entire company. Depending on their needs, we provide training, and provide services to understand their processes and lead them into their continuous improvement journey. I really enjoy it a lot!”
Everyone finds their way into their job differently. Maria didn’t go looking – MassMEP found her. “A headhunter called me at a time in my career that I was really solid and happy. He really presented me with an offer that provided me with everything I was looking for. Maybe it sounds a little silly, but ever since I was little, I could see myself teaching. I’m an industrial engineer, which I enjoy a lot. But I always had that itch for teaching. When I got the call from the headhunter with this offer, I had to give it serious consideration. Not only was I going to be teaching, but I was going to be able to replicate what I had been learning in different places. Additionally, I am a Spanish speaker, so having the opportunity to go to companies where the main workforce is Latino Spanish speakers, and to be able to close that gap and get people into the system and training was very appealing. So I took the MassMEP opportunity.”
“At the time I was approached, I was with Trelleborg, an aerospace company, where I had the opportunity to lead continuous improvement and get people working together as a team. Trelleborg gave me the opportunity to grow. I started as a continuous improvement engineer and made my way up the ladder to engineering manager. I also have my Master’s degree from UMASS. Before that I lived in Columbia and worked as an engineer.”
Maria continues, “How my lean journey started is kind of an interesting story. One of my best friend’s father owned a clothing manufacturing company. He asked me if I’d like to work at the company while I was working on my thesis, and assigned me the project of how the company could make their own product there. So I worked on buying machines and hiring people. Six months go by and we’re losing money, I can’t sleep, was very stressed, and didn’t know what was going wrong. From my education I thought that you put people at machines and add raw material and you get clothing on the other side. It didn’t work like that, so I started searching and asking college professors to see how I could make it better. I found a lean program at the University EAFIT Medellin where I had been an undergrad. I asked my employer if they would pay half and I would pay the other half to attend, because I couldn’t sleep. I went to the training and was able to go back to the company and replicate everything I learned. We started seeing the benefits of lean! That’s how my lean journey began.”
“That’s what we do at MassMEP – we provide training and coaching and let people see the benefits. We have training that is very hands-on like Lean Legos and the Clock Factory. People are able to engage and you get so see them have AHA moments. That’s what makes my job so meaningful. For example, we were doing a training and I asked the trainees if they had any lean experience and they replied no. One machine operator said that her main problem was that her line wasn’t balanced and was explaining her situation with lean language. I was excited that she had the concepts and vocabulary and offered to guide her so that her company could be successful. I live for these moments at work! Another element is helping co-workers make connections with each other and seeing them build their team – that means everything and has me jumping out of bed every day.”
Maria concludes, “Outside of work my two daughters, my husband, my family are everything to me. I love doing things with them. Dancing, cooking, just seeing their smiles doing activities together, going on a hike, going to the park – my life has meaning because of them.”
How well do you know Maria? Two of these statements are true and one is not. Can you guess which one?
- I’m a salsa dancer and love to dance.
- I love to do 5S around my house.
- I really enjoy snowboarding.