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Career Story: Manufacturing Supervisor For A Defense Contracting Company

Manufacturing Supervisor For A Defense Contracting Company

Job Title: Operations Manager

Type of Company: I work for a large defense contractor which builds radar and sensors. Our customers are the US military and the Office of Homeland Security.

Education: BA, Economics UMass-Amherst

Previous Experience: I have worked in manufacturing for twenty-two years.

Job Tasks: My department makes the primary radar system that is used on US Navy destroyers. The people who report to me are assemblers, test technicians and crane operators.

My typical day starts at 6:00am. I walk the factory floor to make sure everything is running smoothly. I ask the employees if they need anything and try my best to get them anything they need to perform their duties. Sometimes they are missing parts to finish the radar. Other times they need engineers to help them find out why something isn't working as it should. By 8:00am I go to a series of meetings that review our progress.

The first meeting goes over scheduling. This is to ensure the Navy gets their radar units on time.

The second meeting goes over technical issues. If a radar unit fails a test, the group gets together to find out why. The third meeting reviews finance. With military contracts, you have to finish on-budget. When you agree to build radar system, the Navy expects you to finish on time and at the price agreed upon. If you finish the job on time and under budget you are expected to give money back. This helps keep costs down and ensure future contracts.

The final meeting is to review good work practices with other areas of the company. That way we can share good ideas.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working directly with the employees. They are proud of what they do because they believe they are making a difference in the support of the people protecting our freedom. Many of these people have children in the military or are former veterans, so they understand how important it is to make a quality product.

The worst part is when you run into problems that keep you from doing your job. Delays can cost time and money and put you in jeopardy of missing deliveries to your customer.

Job Tips: My best bit of advice is to try and enter a cooperative with a business during your school years. Many of our young successful managers work part-time during the summer and school breaks. It may not seem glamorous but managers are looking for people who show they can be responsible at a young age. Be yourself and be confident.

Additional Thoughts: Work-life balance is important, but hiring managers are looking for people who are committed to the career. If you work hard you will make a name for yourself early and the promotions will come.

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