February 15, 2017 by texasbbacareerservices
Major: Supply Chain and Operations Management
Grad year: 2014; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Current title: Indirect Procurement Supply Base Analyst
Please tell us about your career path and how you found your way to Harley-Davidson.
I started in procurement as an intern at a Milwaukee-area steel manufacturer during my junior year of college. I continued in this position part-time throughout my junior and senior years, including full time during the summer. From that experience I knew I wanted to pursue a career in procurement.
I was raised in Menomonee Falls, WI, the same city where the Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations plant is located. Naturally, I always looked at the company as a place where I dreamed to someday work. I was able to talk with representatives from Harley-Davidson at my college’s career fair, where we discussed the IGNITE Materials Excellence rotational program. I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of.
What do you like about working for Harley-Davidson?
I was passionate about the company because I was raised near Harley-Davidson’s Powertrain Operations manufacturing plant, but I have found that every employee here has the same passion regardless of where they are from. H-D is definitely not your average company to clock in and out from day to day. What was even more surprising was the culture that surrounds the company from its customers. Once you see the deep emotional connection our customers have with the brand and the product, it is extremely humbling. You will be amazed at the volume of conversations with family, friends and new acquaintances all relative to that person’s connection to H-D, it is further reaching than I could have ever imagined.
Beyond the passion behind the brand, H-D is very engaged with its employees’ development. The H-D career environment allows employees to drive their own careers and gain cross functional experiences to enable their own development, and help grow the business. We also have a dedicated Harley-Davidson University (HDU) training program which guides you toward professional and technical training. Other positive programs at work are our various Business and Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) such as the Young Professionals BERG and African-American BERG, which provide employees with common backgrounds, interests, and aspirations to achieve professional aspirations and increase their potential in contributing to Harley-Davidson’s success in the workplace, marketplace, and community. Transitioning to outside of work, given the deep culture around our brand, there is never a shortage of local events to attend such as bike nights, rallies, or even just the camaraderie of throwing a leg over your bike and riding with your co-workers. If you don’t ride, don’t worry, the culture surrounding the company will make your co-workers feel like family and it’s never a shock to hear of employee gatherings after hours.
What does this job/internship entail?
The Harley-Davidson Materials Excellence Program is a three-year rotational program, with three unique rotations. Potential positions are all procurement related and consist of various roles within supply chain operations (buyer of direct motorcycle components at one of our vehicle assembly plants), product development (buyer who works with our engineering teams and suppliers on designing and sourcing new direct motorcycle components for future vehicles, yet to be released to the public), and supply base management (buyer of indirect goods and services, along with new supplier qualification and existing supplier evaluation). Some of my most memorable projects were in the supply chain and product development roles. Within supply chain you’re assigned many system groups; a few of mine included handlebars, brakes and clutches. I held this role during model year 2015 at our York, Pennsylvania assembly plant. If you were to buy any of our Touring, Softail, Trike, Custom, or Police motorcycles from 2015, then I can confidently say I was the buyer of those components for your bike. Similarly in product development I spent the year sourcing and validating components that would release to the public toward the end of my rotation. I had a great amount of pride working on these projects and then getting to see them on vehicles at dealerships, rallies and cruising down the road. There are model year 2017 vehicles where I can now say I’m responsible for your paint, your muffler, or even your wheels. Both of these examples will be life-long memories.
You’re also paired with a member of The Global Materials leadership team as a formal mentor, this has been especially valuable. There are also development opportunities and diverse networking events exclusively available to the employees in Harley-Davidson’s functional rotational programs. In addition to the designed development opportunities, you will also have the chance to relocate to at least one of our manufacturing plants for a rotation, and I found the relocation assistance to be second to none. Furthermore, I would recommend any of the potential locations. I take pride in the experience I’ve had which has spanned all locations available to this program (if not for a rotation then at least for a short term assignment).
What skills make a person successful in this position?
Self-motivation, a positive attitude, and a willingness to go the extra mile are all keys to success. Riding a motorcycle is never a requirement (although there is a good chance you will someday feel the itch); there is a large portion of our employees who do not ride, including me when I was hired.
Please share your general career advice?
My advice as you progress through your career is not only will you be challenged to learn each new position, but you should always in return challenge your manager to assign you additional projects that will help you grow within the role. It’s easy to learn the day-to-day operations and it’s expected to manage the projects given to you, however the additional work you pursue not only helps you achieve the most you can from each position, it’s also a direct reflection of your determination in your career. This is what you should always strive to display.