Recent graduate in Engineering Technology and Management (ETM), Jacob Zielinski, BSETM ’22, started his career as an engineer from the moment he graduated from Ohio University. Today, he works as a continuous improvement manager for Charter Next Generation, a producer of specialty films used in flexible packaging.
From day to day, Zielinski stays busy with a variety of job duties, including developing and implementing strategies to improve processes, monitoring and analyzing key performance indicators, leading cross-functional teams and training and coaching employees on process improvement methodologies. In addition to those duties, he is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders, tracking and reporting progress on improvement initiatives, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
These duties directly reflect the skills he learned as an ETM student in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. The ETM program helps students develop the technical expertise and business experience to effectively manage complex technological and business challenges. The curriculum includes business courses, which result in a built-in minor in business.
As a student, Zielinski leaned into the business side of his degree and became involved in the Ralph and Luci Schey Sales Centre.
“Participating in the Schey helped me develop skills such as sales, marketing and communication, and provided opportunities to network with professionals in the field,” said Zielinski.
In addition to his involvement with the Schey Sales Centre, Zielinski embraced opportunities to grow as a student, engaging in labs, applying his previous work experience to the classroom and seeking out mentors to help guide him professionally, academically and personally. Specifically, professors Curtis Cohenour, Michael Kennedy and Zaki Kuruppalil offered guidance, advice and insight that helped Zielinski develop his skills and advance his career.
Today, Zielinski is applying what he learned in the classroom to industry. Using principles of lean six sigma, a process improvement approach that focuses on reducing waste, Zielinski led his first kaizen event. A kaizen event is a team-driven, time-sensitive exercise that aims to identify quick solutions to improve processes in a given area.
“I am particularly proud of leading my first packaging kaizen event that resulted in substantial cost savings for my organization. It was a challenging project that required me to apply my leadership and problem-solving skills to develop effective process improvements. Seeing the positive impact of my work on the organization was incredibly rewarding and remains a highlight of my professional journey so far,” said Zielinski.
As a recent graduate, Zielinski is in the early stages of his career as a continuous improvement manager. He has already seen growth in his position because he has embraced opportunities to learn and apply the knowledge he honed as an ETM student at Ohio University.
“My advice to current or prospective ETM students who want to follow in my footsteps would be to take advantage of all the resources available, get involved in extracurricular activities, seek out mentors, and stay curious and keep learning throughout their academic and professional journey,” said Zielinski.