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This is part of an ongoing series highlighting MMM summer internship experiences.

Name: Ken Yearwood
Industry: Management Consulting
Company: McKinsey & Company
Function: Manufacturing, Operations Practice
Location: Chicago, Illinois

As a Summer Associate in McKinsey’s Chicago office this summer, I was staffed on a lean manufacturing study for a global pharmaceutical client.  I was specifically responsible for improving the performance of five manufacturing lines at the site.

Moreover, I was fortunate to have joined a client study where I was able to see three phases of the project:

  • Phase 1 was the diagnostic, where the team and I examined where there was room to improve performance and propose cost savings areas.
  • Phase 2 was the design phase, where the team leveraged firm expertise and tools to create tailored solutions for the client.
  • Phase 3 was my favorite — the implementation phase, where we took ideas we’d designed in Phase 2 and actually put them into practice at the client site.

In many ways, I was able to apply learnings from MMM classes to the latter half of the client study. In particular, I found my operations course and MMM classes like Research-Design-Build to directly correlate to the work I was doing with the client.

For instance, one day I was leading a workshop with blue-collar workers and middle managers from the manufacturing floor. The team had mapped out a manufacturing process by placing sticky notes on a whiteboard, and subsequently found ways to rearrange the sticky notes to design a new and improved process with less wasted time. I recall taking a step back and thinking, “how wild is it that I’m applying some of the same people-centered design processes during my internship that I had in class?”

The next week, we were on the manufacturing floor attempting the redesigned process and the team was able to perform the changeover process in 40% of the time it had previously taken!

Not only was it rewarding to see my recommendations put into action, but it was even more rewarding to see the culture shift; people who previously were resistant to change were excited and vested in the notion of continuous improvement.

Learn more about the MMM program