Zac Cesaro is currently an Associate and works in the Boston, USA office. Zac joined Stroud in January 2017 after graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Chemical Engineering.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY ON SITE LOOK LIKE?
A typical day on site starts with breakfast at the hotel. Then, I head to the plant to meet with the supervisors for both the night and day shift to discuss progress made and next steps. After the meeting, I prepare for what I need to accomplish that day. Then, I get out on the floor! My morning could be spent implementing a new system, running quality tests, or changing timings on automated systems. Whatever I’m working on, the common thread is problem solving and spending time out on the floor. I work with the operators to dig into whatever problem we are trying to solve. Throughout the day,I could be making a line produce something faster, changing how a process operates, or observing a production line to figure out why the product is over-filling. I also lead my team’s daily meeting. This team includes operators across shifts, quality control technicians, and a shift supervisor. We review our action items and ask the question, “Where do we stand in the week/month/day towards our goal?” My last task for the day involves meeting with the plant operations manager to give a status update on the team, ask for any support the team needs, and to see what help need they with.
Next is dinner. My most recent project was in Portland, which has some really amazing restaurants, but I’ve also sat around eating food truck food with locals. After dinner, I’ll usually work out and then explore the city, going to live music or visiting with friends.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR DAY? YOUR WEEK?
My favorite part of a day on site is getting the results from the previous day’s production numbers. Waiting for the numbers is exhilarating, and it is extremely gratifying to see them improve. It’s a rush to succeed with the plant, and we all truly feel like a team when we work together to make breakthrough change.
My favorite part of a typical week is coming back to the office on Fridays and sharing results with the other Stroudies. I love catching up and getting to hear what everyone else is doing on site.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR WORK AT STROUD?
The people I’ve gotten to work with have been the best part about working at Stroud. The Stroudies I’m working with are intelligent and have very diverse interests. The partners are extremely invested in the well-being and development of each Stroudie. The feedback culture is incredible - I’ve developed far faster than I thought was possible.
On top of that the “small company vibe” and the culture have both exceeded any expectations by a long shot. I don’t feel like just a cog in a machine. I am a significant part of the company, and I can see the value of my contributions to the company every day.
WHAT WERE YOU SURPRISED BY IN YOUR FIRST FEW MONTHS OF WORK?
I didn’t expect to learn so much about problem solving. In two weeks, I learned more practical problem solving skills than I did throughout four years of my engineering degree.
WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I spend a lot of weekends hiking and camping. I love nature.
I also love to travel. My favorite place I’ve been was probably New Zealand. I spent four months living there before starting at Stroud. I’ve been all over the map, including Spain, hiking in the alps, and most recently Colombia.
On the more day-to-day side, I enjoy going out with friends, going to concerts, and reading. My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. I’m also currently growing an herb garden on my balcony, which I use when cooking.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ACCOMPLISHING NEXT AT STROUD?
I’m really looking forward to the first time I get to manage a new associate. It will be very rewarding to get to watch someone grow at the rate I was developing when I first started. I want to be a part of their fresh experiences and their epiphanies. Managing someone else will also push my own development and work a different skillset. I expect it to be quite challenging because whoever I manage will be very smart and probably better than me at some things, but I’m excited to learn throughout the coaching process.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK AT STROUD?
Three reasons - the people, the work, and the development. The people at Stroud are top caliber and I wanted to learn as much as I could from them. In fact, I plan to never stop learning from them.
Stroud works in every industry. I enjoyed my work in manufacturing before, I but didn’t want to be tied down to one industry. Stroud gives me a chance to see many different plants across industries while still doing hands-on work and using my degree.
I also saw the strong focus Stroud has on personal development and the intense feedback culture. I saw Stroud as a place I could grow quickly. I’ve been given a lot of responsibility very early on because Stroud is a small company that is dedicated to investing in its people.
WHAT SKILLS/ADVICE/ETC. HAVE BEEN MOST HELPFUL TO YOU WHILE WORKING AT STROUD?
I’ve found that an eagerness to take on more responsibility has been an incredibly fast way for me to grow. For example, there’s a training workshop we give to clients that is traditionally done by someone more experienced than me. On the day of the workshop, my manager was ill and asked me to lead the training. I was not prepared and very nervous, but I agreed to it. It was an amazing chance to gain experience, and the training workshop ended up going very well!
Zac’s favorite insights: