March 1, 2022
8 insightful answers in less
than 8 minutes
Internet of Business’ IoB 8×8 Series is designed to reveal more about the people who have helped shape IoB’s live event and digital content over the years, picking the key industry brains who have dedicated time to educating peers.
Mike Ungar, certified FocalPoint Business Coach delves into his experience in the manufacturing industry, his time at Michelin, emerging technologies, and guidance for those looking to advance in their careers and business practices. We are honored to have Mike chair Manufacturing X.0 Southeast on April 27th, 2022!
IoB: In a few sentences, can you introduce your experience working within the manufacturing industry please?
MU: I retired from Michelin after 35 years of employment. I started as an Industrial Engineer and then became an Industrial Engineering Manager working in two different facilities. I led several Operations teams in the manufacture of tires, of which the largest team was over 300 people. I led the deployment of elements of Michelin Manufacturing Way, Michelin’s manufacturing practices with responsibility for the deployment of Managing Daily Performance (Michelin’s Management of Operational Indicators), 5S, and the empowerment approach for North America and select plants in Europe. I also served at the Director of Competency for the Progress Profession, with responsibility for developing the continuous improvement competence of both progress professionals and the line managers that support them as well as the deployment of Lean Six Sigma for North and South America.
IoB: During your impressive tenure at Michelin, what in your opinion was the most remarkable transformation technology brought to plant operations?
MU: Over 35 years, there have been many significant transformative technologies. When I started with the company, there was only one computer in the plant where I worked. In 1986, we put the first computer on a forklift giving the drivers access to pick lists and inventory locations. I have also watched the evolution of PLCs from the very beginning of their deployment on the shop floor. Robots took over some of the most ergonomically challenging work. More recently, artificial intelligence has been a key factor in driving predictive maintenance and quality improving OEE.
IoB: Which emerging technologies excite you the most – which do you think will be game changing for the manufacturing industry in the future?
MU: Industry 4.0 provides a portfolio of cost-effective technologies. Manufacturers now have additional tools like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, sensors, autonomous mobile robots, and edge computing to name a few to go along with other more traditional approaches to help drive continuous improvement. The game changer for me is the breadth of Industry 4.0 tools and solutions available to support manufacturers as they work to solve their most pressing challenges and problems.
IoB: It is often said that technology is only as strong as the people behind it; how can manufacturers overcome resistance to change and hesitation over technology adoption?
MU: Installing the technology is quite often the easiest part of a project. I recommend that leaders focus on solving the priority problem identified by the associates on the shop floor using the appropriate emerging technology. When you focus first on the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me) of the associates, they will embrace technology because it makes their jobs easier. It is also important to involve them in designing the solution using the technology. This engagement helps to drive ownership for the solution.
IoB: How have you ensured that you are always abreast of technology trends, and what recommendations would you give to manufacturers looking to enhance their skills?
MU: Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace today that it is difficult to stay abreast of all the new developments. This is especially true for manufacturers who work long hours and whose priority is serving their customers. I suggest two approaches. First, identify an expert in each of the technology fields (e.g., artificial intelligence, robotics) and follow them as they share their expertise. Second, join a networking group of other manufacturers who are willing to host one another in their factories with the purpose of sharing technology and advancements.
IoB: Given your great career experience at Michelin, what advice would you give to those now looking to develop and progress their manufacturing careers?
MU: There are two pieces of advice I would give someone who would like to make manufacturing a career. First, you must be adaptable. This adaptability will show itself in three ways. 1) You must be able to learn new skills and competencies. The technology and methods by which we manufacture today will evolve dramatically over a career. 2) You must be willing to relocate. The factory where you start will not likely be the factory where you end your career. 3) You must be able to adapt to changing physical demands. Whether you are operating equipment or supporting those who do, the shop floor can be a physically demanding environment (even though there remains a strong effort to continue to make the work physically easier). Second, I suggest reading the book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. The bottom line – what brings you success in one role is not necessarily what you need to be successful in the next. You always must be preparing yourself for your next role if you want to progress.
IoB: Do you think manufacturers are successful in attracting enough talent, and the right talent? And, what improvements can manufacturers make in their recruitment strategies?
MU: Along with my manufacturing experience, I spent three years as the Director of Corporate Recruiting at Michelin. Attracting and retaining the right talent is more difficult today than it has been in decades. The competition for talent is fierce.
To win in the people marketplace, a manufacturer’s “employment offer” must be attractive. What does this mean?
- Pay and benefits must be competitive.
- The workplace must be attractive (e.g., clean, well-lit) and meet the needs of the employee (e.g., work from home options where appropriate, flexible hours).
- The manufacturer must also be able to articulate their purpose, why they are in business. This why must be more than “to make money.” A company’s purpose should be something greater than the product the company produces.
- Don’t try to hire the next great savior. Promote and develop employees from within. Leverage the talent and loyalty you have.
- Employees also want to be part of an organization that gives back to their community.
- The corporate culture must be attractive. This includes having explicit values and embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It also includes having leaders who empower their employees.
The best recruitment strategy cannot overcome a poor employment offer. When a company goes to market to recruit, without the right employment offer, it will not succeed in the long run. Manufacturers need to focus internally to be successful in recruiting externally.
IoB: When you consider the US manufacturing industry as a whole, what concerns you for the future, and how can the manufacturing and technology industries work together to maintain a global competitive edge?
MU: Over the last several decades, we have seen manufacturers close factories and move them overseas only to bring them back to the United States when the supply chain and economics of manufacturing overseas were no longer attractive. This vicious cycle must not be repeated.
How? By investing. Manufacturers must invest in their facilities to meet the evolving needs of the market at home and abroad. They need to invest in continuous improvement activities which will lead to the integration of new technologies. This investment in continuous improvement, given that the US is a “high cost country,” must drive needed productivity improvement to stay competitive. And most importantly, manufacturers must invest in the development of their people and the communities in which they live and work.
Mike Ungar is a certified FocalPoint Business Coach and Executive Coach helping business leaders improve their profitability and achieve their personal and professional goals. Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Mike spent nearly 5 years leading Infantry units in the United States Army. Following Mike’s service to our country, he joined Michelin North America. Over Mike’s 35-year career at Michelin, he held managerial roles in continuous improvement, manufacturing, training & development, and recruiting retiring from Michelin in May 2020. Mike also has an MBA from Clemson University. In addition to his work as a Business and Executive Coach, Mike is currently a Founder of the Industry 4.0 Club with the purpose to engage the power of diverse worldwide talent to accelerate the global evolution to Industry 4.0. He co-chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee for the Greenville Society of Human Resource Management and is a member of the Workplace Advisory Council with the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. Mike is also a Board member for the Upstate Veterans Business Network.