I am currently the Industrial Manufacturing Engineer for Body-in-White robotic production and welding. In this role I am responsible for implementing Kaizen and Process Improvement methodologies to reach the organizational goals for VPS at the New River Valley Plant in Virginia, USA. I am involved with conducting Root Cause Analysis and entrusting projects to team members so that we can work together cross-functionally towards a viable solution. In this role it is not uncommon to face resistance; by striving for improvement I serve as a change agent towards a better future, which requires the ability to effectively communicate with others as well as be able to motivate them to achieve not only the technological improvement but also a shift in mindset when necessary as well, which is crucial for new product and process introductions to succeed.
For a long time I knew that I wanted to have an international career, in an organization that provides the opportunity to develop my skillset as an engineer as well as my people skills when collaborating with other team members towards a common goal. I have also always been fascinated by automotive processes and the complexity involved with so many different components and parts being finally developed into one product impacting the lives of millions of people on a global scale. For this reason, I decided to join the Volvo Group, as it is a leader in heavy duty vehicle manufacturing with a global outreach and positive impact on society. In particular, I was interested in the International Graduate Programme because of the professional development aspect that comes from the job rotations in different countries around the world. The programme has also been excellent for acquiring a thorough overview of the Volvo Group’s Strategic and Business Areas.
So far, it has been amazing! I have really enjoyed learning more about the manufacturing processes and lean methodologies used in VPS. There are also some very interesting challenges we are currently facing in Body-in-White, with new robotic equipment being implemented. The three common weeks we had during the programme have also been a very unique learning experience during which we were really encouraged to challenge and develop ourselves. From this experience as well as working in different locations and job rotations globally I have built a wide network of contacts within the company and friends from many different cultures and backgrounds. The programme has also provided me the opportunity to be mentored by talented leaders for a successful future career.
The global opportunities available in the Volvo Group are a key factor, as well as the focus that the company has on developing and investing in its people. There is a strong culture here evident in the emphasis on teamwork as well as individuals that are motivated to continuously improve and take on challenges. If you are looking for a career that offers the opportunity to travel around the world, work with people from different backgrounds on exciting projects that are driving the automotive industry into the future, then Volvo is definitely going to meet and even exceed expectations.
Overall, the whole year has been an amazing opportunity. I have learned so much and met some great people. I really enjoyed the three common weeks, and believe that I speak for all the other graduates when I say that we definitely changed positively from when we had the first common week until the end of the program. Seeing us being transformed from 24 individuals who barely knew each other, into building so much camaraderie throughout the process and becoming a strong team was one of the best parts for me. I also had a great experience during my assignment abroad at the Renault Trucks plant in Bourg-en-Bresse. The people there were so welcoming and helpful, making it a fun learning experience both technically in their VPS methodology as well as culturally in their management approach and everyday work interactions. Even though this year has been superb, I believe the best is yet to come as we graduates are planning our fourth common week next year, and keeping in contact as we progress in our careers.
I enjoy my current role as the Industrial Manufacturing Engineer of Body-in-White, where I am able to drive progress in VPS implementation and process improvement in our current processes to achieve the goal of the department and the NRV plant to reach GOLD Standard. In this role, I act as a motivator for people to change for the better, which is something I am very passionate about. I want to keep taking on challenges and new roles in the company to continuously act as a change agent in driving projects and achieving our objectives. In my opinion, a great department manager or director must also be a strong motivator for people to build an effective team. Because of my passion for developing people and motivating others I could see myself becoming more involved in project management on a larger scale, also potentially become a department manager within engineering or another technical area, leading my team through effective decision-making and creating a supportive environment. I am very grateful for the opportunity of being part of the Volvo Group and I believe that the results I deliver will have a strong positive impact on the development of the company.
I know five languages: English, Arabic, French, Swedish and basic Mandarin. I learned the first three from being born and raised in my home country Lebanon, whereas the Swedish I learned from the years I spent studying in Sweden. Finally, I have some basic understanding of Mandarin from some courses that I took during my studies. Another thing that my colleagues would never have guessed is that I am a big fan of the Batman character from movies and comics. Even though fictional, to me he is a profound symbol of how a normal person is able to achieve extraordinary feats through choosing to champion good over evil, with determination and willpower.
Name: Majeed George Assaf
Function/organizational belonging: GTO North America
Position: Industrial Manufacturing Engineer – Body-in-White
Site/location: New River Valley, Virginia, USA.