|Virginia Dropkowski - 2010 Associate of the Year (AOY)|
The 2010 Staff Management | SMX Associate of the Year and The American Staffing Association (ASA) National Staffing Employee of the Year Nominee Virginia Dropkowski
Virginia will celebrate her 12th anniversary on assignment with our client, Mars, during National Staffing Employee Week and so I felt that it would be the perfect time to recognize her contributions. I believe that Virginia is the ideal candidate for the award as she represents our company and our industry with the very highest standards and Virginia's story embodies all five of the American Staffing Associations key messages (jobs, flexibility, bridge, choice and training).
More than anything, Virginia's story is of her own personal career bridge that has brought her from stay-at-home mom to highly successful temporary associate with a well developed skill set. In September of 2010 Virginia will take yet another step on her career bridge and will also be recognized by Staff Management | SMX and our client for her contributions and accomplishments to both of our organizations.
"Virginia is someone I am lucky to be associated with both personally and professionally and I have attempted to put her worth to our company and our client into words in the nomination essay that follows."
To celebrate Virginia's accomplishments, Staff Management | SMX President & Chief Operating Officer, Joan Davison, and Peter Doyle, Director of Operations, joined John Loftus, Operations Manager, and over 70 Mars and Staff Management | SMX associates to surprise Virginia at the Burr Ridge site on September 1, 2010 at 6am. Joan thanked Virginia for her contributions, formally announced Virginia's promotion and presented her with a congratulatory cruise for two. The early morning celebration was attended by key Mars leadership as well as Virginia's husband Henry and her youngest son Andy. A great time was had by all!
"Surprising Virginia at the end of third shift was one of the greatest moments of my career. Not only being able to recognize Virginia for all that she has done for Staff Management | SMX and Mars but also to see such incredible participation from our client. I was thrilled with the number of folks from Mars that took time out of their busy schedule to celebrate with Virginia at such an early hour. Also, on a personal note, my first day with Staff Management | SMX in 1996 was spent at the Mars Burr Ridge site on the 3rd shift which made celebrating Virginia's accomplishments particularly sentimental for me."
Bon Voyage Virginia - We'll See You Soon!
Virginia Dropkowski's Story - 2010 SM Associate of the Year
Virginia Dropkowski's first priority has always been her family. She is married to Henry Dropkowski, is a mother of three and has three very lucky grandchildren. When Virginia's children were young, she stayed home to care for them. Once her children were older, Virginia decided she wanted to work outside of the home to keep busy. Virginia reentered the workforce as a cashier at a local car dealership. However, when business slowed down at the dealership she was laid-off. After the lay-off Virginia saw a posting for a temporary production position assignment with Staff Management | SMX and applied.
Virginia began her Staff Management | SMX career on September 15, 1998 on assignment as a temporary production worker on a new production line at a Mars facility in Burr Ridge, IL. Virginia was responsible for completing a final quality assurance check before the packaging process began to ensure that the product was free of defects and met the client's quality standards. Virginia was a natural, despite never having worked in a manufacturing facility she acclimated quickly to the environment and was pleased to find that she was good with her hands. She also enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and developed many friendships at work.
After a few years in her initial production assignment, Virginia began a cross-training rotation which gave her the opportunity to work on all of the ice cream packaging lines in the facility. "By learning to work all of the lines I became better at what I did and it kept things interesting." Staff Management | SMX took note of Virginia's hard work and ability to do a number of jobs well and in 2003 Virginia was promoted to become a Line Lead for an ice cream packaging line. "I was responsible for ensuing that my line ran smoothly and that we were maintaining our client's standards." Virginia quickly proved herself capable in the Line Lead position and between 2003 and 2005 managed all of the lines in the facility finding success on each new line. Virginia's abilities and her willingness to do what was needed were always evident. Whether it was taking a leadership role, being on a safety team, or learning a new process, she always stepped up and answered the call.
In 2005 Virginia was promoted to an Assistant Group Lead in the ice cream packaging area. In addition to her production responsibilities she supported the Group Lead, who was responsible for the entire department, with training and break scheduling. "I supported the Group Lead to ensure that the department had a smooth and productive shift. I also really tried to put myself out there to connect with new associates in the department to ensure that they understood their role because I think that understanding what you need to do in order to be successful is really important. I also made sure that each associate was following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's) such as wearing their hearing protection. I paid close attention to maintaining a safe environment and to following our client's safety program, ensuring that the lines were clean and picked up and that everything was in its place."
During Virginia's time as an Assistant Group Lead, Virginia volunteered to be on the weekend shift or wherever she was needed. When the department moved to a new schedule with twelve hour shifts, Virginia's flexibility and dedication allowed Staff Management | SMX and Mars to ride through a much needed spike in business. Therefore, when a third shift Group Lead position opened in 2007, Virginia was the obvious choice. As a Group Lead, Virginia took on supervisory responsibility for the whole department with a greater focus on safety and more responsibility for paperwork and reporting. "It takes a lot of organization to make sure that the shift goes smoothly - before I end my day I ensure that our client has the reports that they need and I prepare my paperwork for the next day to ensure that things will go well."
Virginia has brought her team from one with room for improvement to a stable team that really adds value to the overall operation. Virginia did this with her do anything attitude and by leading by example. Virginia is always ready to jump onto a line to fill in where needed, to help in a trouble area or to provide support to a new associate. "My number one goal is to ensure that Mars is able to fulfill their production goals on my shift. Ultimately, the success of the shift reflects on me. To make sure that things go well I spend a lot of time at each of the lines. I find that it really helps to be out there making sure that people are doing well and it allows me to jump on a line and help out whenever I need to in order to smooth production. I perform Critical Behavior Inventories (CBI's) each day which allow me to communicate with our associates one-on-one. I observe their work and am able to point out things that they might be missing and help them understand better how to do their role. If I notice that someone is struggling I will work with them to try to get them into a position where they are comfortable."
"Virginia is very dedicated. She communicates any potential issues before the shift. She volunteered to take the leadership role for the midnight shift and she is the reason the straight midnight shift works. Virginia always fills her orders on the Midnight shift, even when we make special requests."
With ice cream it is important that the packaging operation runs smoothly. It may sound simple but ice cream melts quickly so you have to work fast. It is really easy to tell how things went each day by measuring how much scrap is leftover at the end of the shift. That is really what it is about - getting the ice cream packaged to our client's standards while wasting as little as possible." While we are two teams, the Staff Management | SMX team and the Mars team, we are all working towards the same goal. I like that Mars has an open culture and is interested in everyone's input and ideas and it makes me feel good to make our client happy." Virginia also enjoys her colleagues and is always willing to listen to or share a story. "I work with quite wonderful people and I enjoy seeing them each day but most of all I enjoy the work itself and I look forward to going to work and doing my job." Virginia works the third shift with a smile and then goes home and spends the morning with her husband and grandson. "Working the third shift gives me the flexibility to take our grandson to breakfast with my husband, to go on errands, to have time together as a family."
"Virginia has a very good working relationship with her employees. They understand that she is the person in charge of the group. If there are associates issues she will communicate with the leader on shift and work with them to correct them."
Virginia and Henry live with her daughter, son-in-law and their three children to help care for her youngest grandchild while her daughter and son-in-law are working. "My husband is retired and is incredibly helpful, not only with the grandchildren but also with everything from housework to automotive repairs."
When her kids were little Virginia enjoyed camping together as a family. She believes that family camping trips are a good way to keep families together and to keep kids "occupied and out of trouble." Now, Virginia enjoys traveling and going on cruises. Cruises have all of the elements that Virginia likes - people, varied activities and plenty to do to stay busy - though you can really do as much or as little as you like. In her free time, Virginia enjoys making jewelry. "I enjoy making jewelry because it allows me to use my imagination and I like making gifts for friends on special occasions."
Virginia's says her biggest accomplishments are her family and the progress she has made in her career at Staff Management | SMX on assignment at Mars. She is most proud of her work ethic. "I come from a working class family - a family of hard workers." Virginia credits her parents with setting a good example for her as she was growing-up and for helping to develop her "can do" attitude. Long before Staff Management | SMX Virginia was proving herself a natural leader and a people person. When her sons were young they were Boy Scouts. When they needed a new Scout Leader Virginia thought "I can do that" and became their Scout Leader. Staff Management | SMX and Mars have benefited immensely from that "can-do" attitude and willingness to answer the call as well as Virginia's natural leadership ability, exceptional work ethic and positive attitude. These qualities make Virginia a great representative for our company and our industry and an ideal candidate for National Staffing Employee of the Year.
In September of 2010, after 12 years on assignment at Mars through Staff Management | SMX, Virginia will take another step across her career bridge, which has brought her from stay-at-home mom to successful temporary associate, to become a fulltime Staff Management | SMX employee. Virginia will become a member of the Staff Management | SMX service team on-site at Mars in Burr Ridge. Virginia will be the Staff Management | SMX Supervisor responsible for the third shift operation. In her new capacity Virginia will assume important new responsibilities including weekly order administration, managing Staff Management | SMX's New Start and Associate of the Month Award Programs and Virginia will become Staff Management | SMX's company representative on the site's War on Waste Team just to name a few.
A heartfelt and well deserved congratulations and thank you to Virginia from the entire Staff Management | SMX and Mars organizations! Bill Tumpane, Plant Director for MARS Chocolate in Chicago worked with Virginia for many years in Burr Ridge and upon learning of Virginia's nomination shared this message:
"I'd like to recognize Virginia for her commitment to 'excellence in execution'. She focused on delivering excellent results while leading through others. She keeps the team informed and makes changes when necessary to meet the business needs. Thanks again for your commitment and congratulations."
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