In today’s competitive job market, global companies are looking for professionals who possess a combination of the technical skills and the aptitude to become the leaders of tomorrow. In 2012, with this ever growing need in mind, Comau, relying on its 40+ years of experience, developed its very own Comau Academy, the “learning factory” organized to promote the educational offerings and necessary skills required to face the constantly evolving technological challenges of today’s manufacturing environments.
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As part of Comau Academy’s offerings, Comau has successfully established multiple editions of the Project & People Management (PPM) School at offices in Turin (Italy), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Detroit (U.S.A.) and Shanghai (China). PPM School teaches students, from the best universities around the world, the leadership capabilities needed to successfully manage international and multicultural work groups and projects. The program is open to selected recent university graduates.
Programs are run with the same course outline and day to day agenda throughout the world, with each country adding in their own unique tours and events to enhance the overall learning experience for the students. In the Detroit edition, for example, students are treated to tours of local automotive plants, cultural and industrial museums, and sightseeing tours of Downtown Detroit. At Comau’s facilities, students are exposed to the senior leadership team in each location and shadow managers in fields of their choice, in addition to project managers in order to get a feel for what it is like to be part of a global organization.
In 2015, two Comau employees from the U.S.A. traveled to the corporate office in Turin to experience the Project & People Management School for themselves. Douglas Ehardt and Patrick McNulty agree that this opportunity is one they could not pass up– the ability to study in a multicultural environment, learning the fundamentals of management from some of Comau’s best, and the opportunity to visit Italy are just a few of the many reasons they decided to partake in the program.
Throughout the program, students gained knowledge that can be applied in multiple areas such as conducting productive meetings, giving presentations, and working well in a team environment. They also received constructive feedback from their teachers that instilled a new confidence in them to make important career decisions. In merging his skills as Quality Engineer in Comau’s Body Assembly division with the knowledge he gained in PPM School, Doug was promoted to a Project Manager in Comau’s Adaptive Solutions business unit. “PPM School helped reinforce my choice to pursue the managerial route,” he states. “It allowed me to recognize things that I need to improve, but also taught me what I excelled at and should be making a cornerstone of my future career.”
Pat describes his time there as a humbling experience. “In regards to my previous position as a Supplier Quality Engineer, the program gave me a great deal of motivation to become more engaged with our supply base outside of the country. In regards to Comau, it gave me a sense of pride to see the global aspects of the company and to see that the company goes above and beyond to provide this type of training to those of us who are new to the global workforce.” Following his training at PPM School, Pat was appointed as a Site Quality Engineer for a large aerospace program in the U.S.A. and is now a Project Quality Leader for two multi-regional projects; a feat which is possible after learning to bridge the gap between cultures and communicate effectively with those of a different background.
Prior to participating in PPM School, Doug and Pat were familiar with the NAFTA portion of Comau, but this experience expanded their horizons to understand how Comau functions as a global integrator. Not only did they obtain skills and confidence to help build their professional portfolio, but they also gained relations with their teachers and fellow young professionals from various positions and locations around the world that are still strong today. When discussing their experience, both gentlemen explained that they would highly recommend this program. While there is a lot of information involved, the staff teaches it in a manner that helps the students work together as a team. Pat states, “With technology and communication becoming more and more advanced, we need to understand the best way to communicate to be successful.” This communication was a key lesson that both men found to be a crucial part of the experience. Their experience has enhanced their professional careers at Comau and will be one they will never forget.