Kyle Bowman is a Project Lead based in the Boston, US office. Kyle joined Stroud in September 2015 after graduating from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. In his free time, he plays water polo, looks for cuisines he’s never eaten before, and travels to new places (sometimes managing to do all three at once!).
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY ON SITE LOOK LIKE?
I like to start my days on site by joining the daily production meeting or shift handoff, which helps me catch the pulse of what’s been going on in the facility overnight. The plant team will go over any issues that need to be addressed, and I’ll bring up any tests or trials we plan on running so that we can make sure everyone is on board. The supervisors and managers will then head off to their area to relay any plans or goals for the day back to the line. The day is off and running!
Next up on my plate is working with the team I’m running to quickly determine what we need to get done for the day. For example, running speed trials on the filling machine, and then getting out on the floor and making those actions happen. I’ll spend the morning working with my team to run various trials, analyze downtime events, problem solve, and crunch numbers to figure out how we can best improve performance
I’ll then typically grab a quick lunch, using the time to gather my thoughts and plan for the rest of the day, then head back to resume work to either test/observe things on the floor or head back in the office to analyze the results and communicate with the plant leadership. Based on what we find, we’ll either plan new trials or begin working with maintenance on implementing a solution.
I’ll typically then swing by the operations or plant manager’s office to make sure they’re in the loop with what’s going on, as well as understand if there’s anything else I can help them with. With all of this in mind I set the plan for the next day and get ready to do it again!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR WEEK?
My favorite part of my week has to be Friday morning presentations. Each office congregates on Friday, and we share out what we’ve learned and been working on during the week. Not only does this help my presentation skills grow and sharpen, as we only have 5 minutes to highlight a whole week’s worth of progress, but I also get to learn what everyone else in the office has been up to! I especially love learning about the different processes that people are working on. It is also a great time to ask for help with any challenges from the week that were particularly difficult and have the collective brainpower of the company focus on the issue.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR WORK AT STROUD?
The best part about working at Stroud is the constant ability to take on more responsibility and keep myself challenged. At no point have I ever felt bored. I have been able to grow my skillset more quickly than I could have imagined. On top of that, I’ve gotten to learn how a large variety of different companies have tried to position themselves for success. I have seen first-hand what worked and what didn’t. I think this has thus allowed me to bring more experience to bear in interactions with people than I’d have expected after being in the workforce for only 3 years!
WHAT WERE YOU SURPRISED BY IN YOUR FIRST FEW MONTHS OF WORK?
I was most surprised by the amount of responsibility I was given as a new hire. I was responsible not only for solving one of the biggest problems in a very visible part of the first facility I worked at, but I was responsible for reporting out on it weekly with the client as well! I was very grateful for the help I got as well, learning more from my first manager than I had expected.
WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I like to play water polo, travel, and try new, interesting foods, and Stroud is the perfect job to help enable that! Last year I was able to travel to London to go to a friend’s wedding, come back and work a week on site in South Carolina, then head off to Hawai’i for another friend’s wedding the following weekend. I met my family and my girlfriend while I was in Hawai’i on the island of Kauai, and explored for a week before heading back to South Carolina to finish up my project there.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ACCOMPLISHING NEXT AT STROUD?
I am looking forward to running engagements across a number of different sites, or with multiple Stroudies at one larger site. This will not only challenge me to multi-task, but also help me to become a better leader. As they say, you don’t truly know something until you can teach someone else how to do it!
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK AT STROUD?
When looking for jobs in my last year at MIT I wasn’t sure exactly what field I wanted to work in, so when the career fair came around I decided to stop by every booth there and talk to anybody who would give me the time of day. At the Stroud booth, not only did they tell me about the opportunities at Stroud, but they also engaged me and took the time to learn what I wanted out of a job. What I wanted, which was to keep learning while not getting ‘stuck in a dark room’ as some engineers are, matched up perfectly with the opportunities at Stroud. I went to the information session to find out more and was hooked.
WHAT SKILLS/ADVICE/ETC. HAVE BEEN MOST HELPFUL TO YOU WHILE WORKING AT STROUD?
I think two of the most helpful skills have been learning how and when to say “I don’t know,” as well as how to look for information, not data. Learning how to say “I don’t know” is not something we practice at school, as any time we don’t know something it reflects poorly on our study habits and grades, but in the real world it’s impossible to know everything. I thus have found it important to be able to tell people that I don’t know something, rather than making something up or floundering. I can always take the time to find out and get back to them later with the answer.
In the modern, sensor-filled world there is tons of data for people to dig through, yet somehow it seems like there is just as little information as there was before. People can have graphs and charts and reports out the wazoo, but without knowing what they mean and why they’re getting the data can just be a screen to what is actually happening. To combat this, I’ve found learning how to find the key information needed to be an essential skill.
Kyle’s favorite insights: