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Executive Director, Corporate Quality - George Strodtbeck


This article is from the “Cummins: All Access” series, a compilation of unique, reality-based stories featuring Cummins employees. The series is designed to give a behind-the-scenes perspective of Cummins employees as they develop their careers.

A military Veteran employee’s skill set is as diverse as the experiences encountered during their career.  Veterans have the skill set to be leaders, attain goals under times of pressure and manage teams with reliable productivity.  George Strodtbeck is that type of Veteran leader who leads Cummins Quality Function.
George, a West Point graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, is responsible for Quality initiatives, such as the Cummins Operating System and Six Sigma, across Cummins global businesses.
“I’m responsible for how the processes of the company are developed.  Two examples, the Cummins Operating System, and new product development, guide how the work of the company is accomplished. Every company process must perform in a high-quality way because it is important to our customers and they have a right to expect. So, having clarity about the process is the reason we succeed in business.”
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George’s day starts with a Six Sigma review meeting.  He’s working with a Master Black Belt and project team members to construct a KJ analysis.  The analysis is sorted feedback into columns of data where larger issues can be understood for priority and improvement.
“We use Six Sigma to work on both difficult and common business problems.  Whenever there is a mystery, we rely on Six Sigma as Cummins language of continuous improvement.  The magic of the Six Sigma structure is that it helps us support each project in a common and disciplined way.”
After the meeting, George visits with a member of his quality team to talk about her development.  She’s been in a two year Six Sigma Black Belt rotation in Cummins Fuel Systems working on projects in metrology and supply chain processes.
“We meet once a month in a mentoring relationship to discuss questions she has about Cummins systems, our leadership and how the company information flows globally.  Today, we discussed how she could translate the result of one of her projects to develop people around the region.  I’m really excited about her career development and how she is progressing.”
George returns to his desk and reviews an internal supply chain white paper written by a member of his team.  It’s a chance to refocus and refine his thoughts during a quiet time and provide feedback to the author from a leadership perspective.
Next, George heads out for a working lunch with a group working on the Cummins Business Model and Operating System.  The group is discussing an initiative from Cummins CEO, Tom Linebarger, and his direction to begin sharing functional best practices globally across the Company   
“Today we’re discussing our CEO’s review of each business unit.  We’re trying to accelerate the impact of new employees and speed up the learning curve inside the Company.  With so many new employees at Cummins, it is important that people hit the ground running.”
Training is important to George, especially since he knows our Company is growing.
“Cummins is making great strides to develop our employees globally.  No matter where we’re building it our products in the world – we expect the same quality.  We must keep asking ‘How do we improve processes so employees can do their best each day’?”
Later in the afternoon, George discusses a new supply chain strategy called postponed product differentiation with a colleague at an international manufacturing facility as they launch an important new product line.
“An example is to build base engines in one global facility in large quantities and add components later to meet the requirements of a firm order.  This strategy meets an important customer need to receive our products when they need them.  Working in a partnership with regional suppliers want to assemble final product as late in the demand cycle as possible.  And, while speed is important, keeping high-quality standards is just as important.”
Toward the end of his day, George has a conference call with members of Cummins Supply Chain Leadership Team (CSCLT) about a recent Net Promoter Score workshop to drive continuous improvement. They are analyzing feedback from global cross-functional teams about ongoing supply chain improvement.
“We’re on the phone with our team around the world discussing synchronized business processes.  As we implement our Synchronized Business Planning (SBP) approach more broadly, our supply chains have to continuously improve to be responsive to different customer needs and expectations.  The global integration of our supply chain is an important component of making our products and services so good that Cummins is their only power systems alternative.”
Finally, as George is leaving for the day to meet his wife and friends for dinner, he reflects on a recent presentation he gave to engineering students at Rose Hulman University in Indiana.
“I think about our younger generation studying engineering quite often.  Our future at Cummins is bright and we’re taking time to reinvest in each of our young employees just out of college.  It’s important to provide ongoing, professional education and development to meet the needs of our customers in today’s fast-paced environment.  Our Quality organization realizes it’s important, and we think each day about how to improve the future of our team around the world.”