Part of WIKA USA’s succession planning, the Professional Development Program bears fruit as its first participant transitions into a full-fledged role in the IT department.
At the end of 2020, Eugenys Contreras was well into her rotation in WIKA USA’s Graduate Training Program. She went from department to department, participated in high-level meetings, and received mentorship from many company executives.
Fast forward to December 2021, and much has changed, yet the first participant of this training initiative (since renamed Professional Development Program) is as busy and involved as ever – if not more so. She completed the program in July and moved immediately into her current position as a business analyst in the IT group’s operations systems division.
Embodying WIKA’s Corporate Values
For a business analyst, the core value of continuous improvement is baked into the job description. So is partnership.
“My job basically consists of working with various teams to analyze their technical processes, then recommending and implementing business solutions. How can we operate more efficiently? Where are the areas for improvement? There’s a lot of travel, which I’m also really passionate about!” Eugenys said from WIKA’s Houston branch, which has been her temporary home for a week each month.
A highly satisfying aspect of her position is seeing slow but steady progress. “Improvements take time. We’re making lots of headway, which is awesome.” She also loves developing her business acumen by learning about how a successful global enterprise operates. “My favorite part of the job is being able to interact with the entire organization. I get to go behind the scenes and peek behind the curtain!”
As the Lawrenceville headquarters oversees operations in the Americas, Eugenys collaborates with employees not only in Houston (Diaphragm Seal Division), Ohio (WIKA Sensor Technology), and Pennsylvania (WIKA Mobile Control), but subsidiaries in Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and other countries on this side of the globe.
“I recently led my first Manufacturing Systems process team meeting for all of the Americas,” she said. “It was a lot of fun getting to know the different teams. We are far away from each other, but we experience similar challenges using the same ERP system.”
Giving Back and Paying It Forward
Even though the job keeps Eugenys plenty busy, she carves out time for another corporate value that’s dear to her heart: social responsibility.
“I’m super pumped to support one of our SML (Senior Management and Leadership) projects for community service,” she said. “We’re preparing for 2022 and hope to add many more giving and volunteering opportunities, not only in the greater Atlanta area but in the communities of other WIKA locations as well.”
She is also involved in charitable events that she doesn’t lead, as are many others at the company. “WIKA was part of the Angel Tree for Georgia CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recently, and I was able to sponsor a child – but barely! We had 57 kids that people could buy presents for, and within one day, all the names had been picked. There was even a waitlist for employees who wanted to participate!”
In addition, as the first person to go through the Professional Development Program, Eugenys feels compelled to check in with current participants, called PDP specialists. “I make it a point to touch base with them, get their feedback, and spend in-person time with them. I want their experience to be the best it can be.”
Developing WIKA’s Future Leaders
To ensure that the company remains vibrant and competitive, WIKA places a high value on recruiting, developing, and mentoring the next generation of employees. Other participants of the program, besides Eugenys, include the following:
- Justin Savage in the Lawrenceville office, who has a background in supply chain management and recently accepted a role as inventory controller after his first rotation
- Shelby Becker in the Houston office, who has a degree in mechanical engineering and is currently on her second rotation
- Elijah Mattox-Davis in the Lawrenceville office, who studied industrial and systems engineering and joined PDP in September
“Our workforce is our lifeblood,” said Brent Shadix, vice president of Human Resources and PDP co-chair. “Without fresh ideas and energy from people like Eugenys, Justin, Shelby, and Elijah, WIKA would not be the global leader that we are today.”
Felix Brockmeyer, vice president of Industrial Instrumentation and the other co-chair, agrees. “Our Professional Development Program plays a key role in ensuring that WIKA has the necessary leaders and talents so we can serve our customers and stay at the forefront of the market, now and in the future.”