Jen is an Air Force Veteran who studied mechanical engineering at The Ohio State University. She has worked in manufacturing, operations, and engineering for almost 25 years. Her career has taken the definitive path from estimating to project management / project engineering to operations management to Director of Operations and now Vice President of Operations. Jen is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt (LSSMBB) and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). She had been working at Color Art for about three days at the time of this interview.
AM Hello and welcome! We’re all so happy that you’re here.
JC Thank you! I’m excited to be here. I’ve never received such a warm welcome by so many people. That feels really good.
AM What drew you to Color Art?
JC The company culture, values, reputation, and products are what initially attracted me to Color Art. But one of the first things I thought when I walked in was, “Wow, there are so many women!” (laughs) I’ve been in male-dominated industries most of my career; from the military to engineering school, manufacturing, shop floors, factories, operations, I was usually the only, or one of very few, women so it’s refreshing to see women in President, Vice President and other key roles. It definitely validates Color Art’s forward-thinking culture.
AM That’s true, there are a lot of ladies here. JC I love it!
AM Tell me about Six Sigma. How did you get involved with that?
JC I think I’ve always had a process improvement mindset, but my formal studies came from ASQ, Villanova and an enormous amount of reading. It’s been a long journey but in manufacturing and distribution, Lean is crucial. AM So like, eliminating unnecessary steps? JC Definitely eliminating unnecessary steps but also eliminating errors and defects, minimizing downtime or wait time, and ensuring talent and resources are properly aligned. I love observing and analyzing processes and finding creative ways to streamline. Our warehouse is like, a playground for my nerd brain.
AM Any secret talents?
JC I’m a painter on the side. I do a lot of murals, logos and feature walls. It was an occasional weekend hobby for several years but now it’s become a bit of a side business. Painting has always been a passion, but when my son, who is a very talented painter, commented that I rarely painted anymore, it reignited me.
AM If you were to receive an award, who would you thank in your acceptance speech?
JC I’ve had some exceptional mentors in my career, early on Tim McGuire encouraged me as an engineer and as a professional, and more recently Curt Kinney helped me to evolve and mature as a leader. Throughout, my son, Andy, has motivated and inspired me. I’m a very structured, mechanical, type-A, person but Andy brings out my creative side. He has shown me that anything is possible, taught me to worry less, be fearless, take risks and live outside of the box. He reminds me that “Life is short, buy the shoes, take the trip, eat the cake”.
AM What would your fake award be?
JC Best Shoes maybe?
AM How many pairs of shoes do you have?
JC Too many. Way way way too many. (laughs) For my last Color Art interview, I arrived wearing all black with leopard print shoes. Chris Hoffman also arrived in all black with leopard print shoes. I knew then that it was meant to be.
AM If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would it be?
JC Oh I could win a gold medal at folding a fitted sheet.
AM OH! That is unfair. What’s the secret?
JC (nods) The secret’s in the pockets.
AM Do you remember the name and type of your first pet?
JC When I was 7 or 8 we had this ugly dirty little poodle-mix named Fonzie. I don’t even know where he came from, he was supposed to be white but he always looked dirty. I think he’d been hit by a car 3 times and lived.
AM Favorite movie?
JC Waterworld with Kevin Costner. I know, it’s ridiculous. The engineer in me is intrigued by all of the inventions and adaptations. And the opening “water-filtering” scene definitely grabs your attention.
AM Favorite holiday?
AM Do you dress up?
AM We have a Halloween party here. A few people dress up.
JC Oh. (gestures to warehouse) There will definitely be an Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz theme happening in the future. We typically throw a huge Halloween party every year and dress up for the Halloween run downtown. One year we ran dressed as nuns and priests.
*The author of this article would like to add that she is incredibly excited to see the warehouse guys in costume. Don’t let me down, Jen!
AM What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their life
JC Skydiving. I’ve been once but I would love to jump again. It was exhilarating. AM I’m surprised that in the Air Force they don’t make you do it more often? JC (laughs) I was a computer programmer. They didn’t let us jump out of planes.
AM Do you have any songs completely memorized?
JC (laughs) I hope you do not publish this but there’s a song from summer camp when I was 8-9, called Four Wet Pigs and I still know every word of it.
AM Anything else you’d like to share with the internet? JC Um. I think that’s WAY more information than anybody should have but its good insight into Jen as a whole. AM You did good.