Continuing our Leadership Connect Series with Teranet’s thought leaders, this month we are featuring with Norman Ho, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives. Norman talks with us about various experiences on his career path and how they led him to his current role. As a Six Sigma Black Belt, he is passionate about process improvement and provides some insight on how Teranet is harnessing Operational Excellence practices.
Can you tell us a little bit about your career and how it brought you to your current role?
After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I spent a few years working in the automotive industry as a design and industrial engineer for Ford of Canada, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. It was within these organizations where I developed my process improvement abilities using Six Sigma and Lean methodology. One of the biggest perks of my role was being able to drive a brand-new car off the assembly line each day.
To broaden my education and work experience, I decided to complete an MBA and join a consulting firm that specialized in process improvement. I was fortunate to have consulting engagements in the US, UK, and Canada, where I led large scale improvement projects. Consulting allowed me the chance to apply my abilities across several industries including, nuclear power generation, food & beverage, airline cargo, and manufacturing.
To grow my leadership and management experiences, I took line management roles at GE, and D&H. This provided the opportunity to lead major transformational programs that included standing up a multinational EPMO, program managing a multi-million dollar re-platforming of the Canadian Student Loans Program, and leading a number of M&A integrations.
At Teranet, I am lucky to have the chance to apply my process improvement skills, program management capabilities, and people leadership abilities on a regular basis.
Tell us more about Operational Excellence at Teranet.
Operational Excellence at Teranet means three things. First it is a methodology and tool kit that utilizes industry best practices and tools such as Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, Agile, and Change Management. Second, it is developing a culture to challenge the status quo and to always look for ways to improve.
The third piece is that it is a certification program. We have two programs at Teranet: a White Belt program and a Green Belt program. The White Belt program is an online self-paced program, with a requirement to apply the knowledge learned and pass a multiple-choice test. To date we have had certified approximately 100 White Belts at Teranet. The Green Belt program is an intensive 6-month program, where the candidates are required to come with an existing high value problem they are trying to solve. Over the course of the program the candidates apply their new knowledge and are guided by mentors to solve their problems. This program culminates with a report out presentation and graduation ceremony with all the Executives.
What inspires you about leading strategic initiatives at Teranet?
A few things come to mind. First being trusted to lead important initiatives motivates me to do my best work and to ensure all the targets are met. Another reason is the pace that initiatives need to be delivered. For example, M&A integrations have very tight timelines with significant financial repercussions if milestones are not properly completed on time. The final reason would be the breath of Teranet team members I get to interact with. Typical projects can include more than 50 people in size from all departments of the organization. This is a great opportunity to establish relationships with new team members, and to work with familiar high performing team members.
What are you and your team focused on for 2023?
For 2023 our team is focused on several different areas to add value to the organization. Identifying a few key highlights per department:
- Operation Excellence – delivering Wave 4 of Green Belt training, deploying Robotics Process Automation (Digital Assistant) and optical character recognition (OCR) technology more broadly
- EPMO – continuing to advance project management as a core competency to support the successful delivery of Teranet’s projects and programs
- Procurement – supporting the organization’s needs through timely, value focused operating processes
- Facilities – rightsizing the real-estate footprint to ensure optimal use of space and resources