Dean Rottau is currently a Senior Associate and works in the Boston office. Dean joined Stroud in September 2018 after working in automotive manufacturing for three years. Previously, he studied Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Management at Cornell University.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY ON SITE LOOK LIKE?
A typical day on site typically starts with the morning meeting for our improvement team. This cross-functional team can include technicians and operators with varied roles and expertise relevant to the team focus. An early morning meeting allows us to get input and perspective from both night and day shift in our team’s activities. We use this time to check in on previous actions and draw out the plan of attack for the day.
After the meeting, I like to take a few minutes to align my personal priorities for the day before heading out to the floor. Depending on what we’re working on and where we are in the project lifecycle, this could mean many different activities. Whether we’re identifying and prioritizing opportunities, trialing new line parameters, or looking to understand the fundamentals of a tough problem, though, getting up close with what’s really happening on the line makes a big difference. Spending time up close and personal with the systems we’re looking to improve allows us to see the opportunities on the line in a tangible way, leveraging the operators’ experience on the line.
I’ll typically attend the daily plant steering meeting to stay up to date on the site’s priorities. This is a great opportunity to touch base with plant leadership to align on help needed or provide relevant team updates to departments as needed.
At some point I like to go out to grab lunch for a quick change of scenery, then I’ll usually regroup to analyze our findings from the morning. Our afternoon team meeting is an opportunity to touch base on our findings from the day and usually includes a representative from the evening team in order to get alignment across all shifts. We’ll generally follow up on this meeting with some time on the line to push the last few actions of the day over the finish line.
Once we’ve reached a good stopping point for the day, I’ll typically head back to the hotel to hit the gym (or at least tell myself that I will). One thing I rarely neglect to do though, is scope out a new dinner spot and try to explore some of the local area in the process.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR WEEK?
My favorite part of the day is getting out onto the floor. I learn something new every time I go out to the line. Watching the process firsthand helps to gain insights into the problem or opportunity, and it’s also just still interesting to me to see how the equipment works. Especially after solving a problem, it’s great to be able to see the real impact of your work on the line and the people who work with it.
My favorite part of the week is coming into the office on Fridays and spending time with my colleagues. It’s nice to get a chance to catch up and it’s interesting to see what everyone else has been doing onsite.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR WORK AT STROUD?
Stroud has given me an opportunity to develop at a rapid pace. I feel like I’m constantly learning new things through the varied challenges we face in our work. I’m trusted with a level of responsibility and autonomy to make decisions to drive real results, which pushes me to improve constantly.
WHAT WERE YOU SURPRISED BY IN YOUR FIRST FEW MONTHS OF WORK?
I didn’t expect to learn so much about communication. Whether in a presentation, a meeting, or just a chat at the watercooler, effective communication is imperative to driving and sustaining improvement. Getting the right information to the right people at the right time allows all parties to leverage their resources and expertise to make the best decisions for the organization. Feedback from peers and learnings from day-to-day work help to constantly refine my communication skills
WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I’m a big believer in trying new things as much as possible. This could be exploring a new area, cooking a new dish, or picking up then immediately abandoning a new hobby. I’ve found that travel is a fantastic way to facilitate this. Whenever I have the opportunity I try to travel just about anywhere, because there are always new foods to try, people to meet, and perspectives to gain.
I also really enjoy cooking, hanging out with friends, and really any kind of games. From sports to board games to hot dog eating contests, I’ll take almost any excuse to get way too engaged in something completely arbitrary.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ACCOMPLISHING NEXT AT STROUD?
I’m eager to manage a new associate. It will be very rewarding to contribute to the growth of others and set them up for success in their work. Managing others adds a fundamentally different type of responsibility, as your actions don’t just affect your own successes and failures. I’m looking forward to developing my skillset to become the best leader that I can be for my reports, along with all of the new challenges that come with that.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK AT STROUD?
The biggest reason I decided to work at Stroud was for the opportunity for rapid personal development. I knew that I would be taking on some hefty challenges that would push me to constantly improve. Here at Stroud, we pride ourselves on constantly becoming better problem solvers, which is an invaluable skill in almost any aspects of life.
Another reason I was excited about what we do is the diversity of the work. We serve clients across many different industries, whose needs can vary dramatically. Combined with the nature of our work, this means that I’m always doing something new and my job never feels stagnant.
WHAT SKILLS/ADVICE/ETC. HAVE BEEN MOST HELPFUL TO YOU WHILE WORKING AT STROUD?
Having a mindset to challenge constraints and look at problems from their fundamental principles has been critical to my success at Stroud. When you’re trying to understand a tough problem that’s been looked at a dozen times before, it’s easy to start guessing solutions or just accept its existence as a fact of life. Taking a step back and interrogating the assumptions we make can be a difficult thing to do, but it’s a critical step in uncovering the full opportunity or driving to the true root cause.
Dean’s favorite insights: