|Stephanie Windham - 2011 Associate of the Year (AOY)|
Stephanie's dedication to quality and commitment to our client's success made her the ideal choice for 2011 AOYStephanie's Associate of the Year Celebration
Stephanie Windham is the Staff Management | SMX 2011 Associate of the Year and was a finalist for the American Staffing Association's National Staffing Employee of the Year. Stephanie works on assignment as a training supervisor at the Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) Mid-Ohio satellite facility in Crestline, OH. PGW is a leading manufacturer and fabricator of automotive glass and coatings. Stephanie joined the Staff Management | SMX associate team in October of 2005.
Mike Apking & Joan Davison celebrate with Stephanie
To celebrate Stephanie's accomplishments, Staff Management | SMX President & COO, Joan Davison, and John Kay, Director of Operations, joined Mike Apking, Senior Account Manager, key PGW leadership and over 170 PGW and Staff Management | SMX associates to surprise Stephanie at the Mid-Ohio site on August 17, 2011. Joan announced that Stephanie had been named Associate of the Year, thanked Stephanie for her contributions and presented her with a Cleveland Cavaliers Weekend Getaway for two. Everyone was thrilled for Stephanie and as she accepted her award there were lots of cheers, hugs and a tears of joy - it was a great day for the entire PGW-Staff Management | SMX Team!
Stephanie and the Staff Management | SMX Team
Stephanie joined Staff Management | SMX in 2005 with a strong manufacturing background. She began as a production associate on an assembly line which produced rear windows for automobiles. In August of 2008, Stephanie was promoted to training supervisor. Stephanie’s journey from production associate to training supervisor was not easy. The work content was very different from the production positions that she had held for most of her career and the position required computer skills that had not been necessary for success in previous positions. However, with her fierce determination to succeed, strong work ethic, willingness to take advantage of the opportunity and the skills training provided, she overcame her challenges. Since becoming a training supervisor, Stephanie has continued to raise the bar for facility training standards in support of a significant increase in headcount and ever increasing product quality goals. Stephanie has become a success by all measures and her determination and commitment to quality have earned her the respect and loyalty of both the Staff Management | SMX team and PGW.
When asked about her journey from production associate to training supervisor, Stephanie tells the story of how the opportunity came to her. “I was working on the line and my supervisor Tim said ‘we need to talk to you.’ He took me to the office and all the supervisors, our Operations Manager and Mike, our Senior Account Manager, were waiting for me. I thought, ‘uh-oh what did I do wrong,’” laughs Stephanie. “But instead, they asked me if I’d be interested in being a trainer.”
Mike Apking, Senior Account Manager for Staff Management | SMX, recalls, “My supervisors brought Stephanie to my attention for the training opportunity. She seemed like a great fit because she had proven herself on the line and had a demonstrated ability to meet productivity and yield goals. In addition to that, she stood out because she was very active on her line and was a real team player who cared about the results and the end customer – she takes the work we do here and the results very personally.”
Stephanie accepted the new position because of a lesson learned on her first day on assignment in Mid-Ohio. “I took on the training role because I saw it as an opportunity to learn more. I always remembered my first day with Staff Management | SMX at PGW. A lady named Betty gave me my orientation and she told me ‘The more you learn, the further you’ll go.’ I took her advice to heart. My first position was clear priming on the sedan glass. When the last piece of glass would come down my line each shift, I’d go to another position and learn that position. Over my two and a half years in production I managed to learn all of the positions in my area.”
Before she was willing to take on training responsibility for the whole operation, Stephanie had one condition; she wanted to learn the production positions in the other areas of the facility.
“How could I tell someone how to do something if I didn’t know how to do it myself?” asked Stephanie. “The other side of the shop came hard. I knew my side, my product, inside and out, but I didn’t know the lines for the other products. It took me a few weeks to learn the basics on the other side. I’m not the fastest on those jobs but I know what I’m supposed to be doing.”
The transition into the training role was a challenge for Stephanie. “It was hard in the beginning but the managers at Staff Management | SMX and our client helped me instead of pointing fingers,” remembers Stephanie. “The position was different from the manufacturing positions I was used to and it required more computer skills.” Stephanie was determined to overcome these challenges and be successful in her new role. She was especially motivated to make Tim, her supervisor who had first identified her for the opportunity, proud.
“In the beginning she was a little over her head,” recalls Mike Apking. “However, I saw something in Stephanie that made me know that she could get through this. So, even when it was challenging, I tried to encourage her because I believed that she would ultimately be the right person for the job. We provided her with training to get her where she needed to be with the computer, but ultimately it was up to Stephanie to be a success. She took the training seriously and improved her skills. I think the most important quality that Stephanie demonstrated during the transition into the training role, besides her strong work ethic and good attitude, was her ability to listen clearly to constructive criticism without getting defensive.”
“Stephanie looked her challenges right in the eye, and overcame every one of them,” says Carol Harris, Quality Process Technician, PGW at PGW Mid-Ohio, who works with Stephanie on training and work instructions on a regular basis. “Stephanie is excellent at ensuring the associates are trained, and diligent about keeping the work instructions up-to-date. She is sacrificial with her time, if she feels it is necessary to come in at 2:00 AM, she is here…voluntarily. She has worked weekends, long days, whatever is needed for the job. When she does come in early, or works long hours, I never hear her complain…she just does it because she feels it will help the company perform better.”
In her position, Stephanie is responsible for ensuring that new Staff Management | SMX associates are successfully integrated into the facility through a combination of work instructions and on the job training. Ultimately, Stephanie is responsible for making sure associates know how to produce a high quality product. When a new associate starts, Stephanie tells them that “rate matters, but not in the beginning.” Stephanie explains that “you can run rate all day, but if you have one defect that is what will be remembered. Quality comes first and speed will follow.” Stephanie reminds new associates that “the people that they are learning from have been there for months or years so they need to be patient, get used to the work and let the rate come to them.”
Stephanie is passionate about ensuring that every new associate has the best opportunity to be successful and that they put quality first. “Stephanie can be a cheerleader, a motivator, an enforcer – whatever it takes to help us be successful,” says Mike Apking. “It doesn’t matter if it is an associate on their first day of work or her boss, if she sees a quality violation she will address it.”
“Recently, when we were going through a client audit, the auditor was concerned about our training process until she met Stephanie,” says Carol Harris. “Listening to Stephanie’s training process reassured the customer that our training was sufficient. I’ve heard other auditors provide positive feedback on her efficiency. This by itself is great, but when you place it over the backdrop of what she overcame, that is what makes her eligible for associate of the year. Stephanie never gave up, she has faced her weaknesses right in the face and stepped right over them to become a great associate.”
Stephanie takes pride in a job well done and is dedicated to the Staff Management | SMX-PGW team. “This is a happy place to work” says Stephanie. “I have never worked in a facility where I get along with everyone but here I really do – both our Staff Management | SMX team and the PGW team. In our facility everyone respects each other and we bounce ideas off each other.”
When asked the secret of her success, Stephanie responds, “Listen and pay attention to what’s going on around you.” In a fast paced work environment, “There is no use running around in a panic. My job is to keep the team calm and to set a good model.” How does she do this? “I take on one project or task at a time so I don’t lose my focus. I make sure it is complete before I start something else. I’ve learned over time that it is easy to get overwhelmed but in the end, if you keep your head, when the dust settles it will be okay. You have to look at the big picture.” Stephanie has also learned that “A joke goes a long way towards breaking the ice and a smile can make the difference between a good day and a bad day for someone who might be down in the dumps.”
“Stephanie is the ideal associate, one who has worked hard to achieve the goals she set for herself,” says Carol Harris.”I am so proud and blessed to work with her. Great job, Stephanie!!! Thanks for all your hard work.”
When asked about her greatest career achievement Stephanie explains, “My greatest career achievement is working for Staff Management | SMX here at PGW Mid-Ohio, becoming the training supervisor and having a chance to work with a great group of people, Staff Management | SMX and PGW, who I respect and learn a lot from. My goal is to continue to learn as much as I can to improve our training department.” When asked about life outside of work, Stephanie responds “My greatest joy in life is my family and friends. I have seven nephews and three nieces and they are my passion and keep me busy when I’m not at work – which is just the way I like it.”
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