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Starting a Magna Career: Off-the-Charts Job Satisfaction

Just a few months into her job as a continuous improvement coordinator at the Magna division in Newaygo, Michigan, Megan Walker experienced an “aha” moment.”

“Through my classes, I found my love for lean,” said Walker, who graduated from Ferris State University in December 2022 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration, a minor in operations and supply management, along with dual certifications in lean systems and data analytics. “My ‘aha moment’ was applying lean principles from textbook examples to real life.”

“It’s a great start to a career because lean systems touch everything from the supplier to the customer. Magna is a fascinating place for someone like me because it’s a mobility technology company that has lean principles at the center of everything.”

Lean manufacturing minimizes waste while maximizing productivity – two important aspects to continue improving Magna’s Operational Excellence.

“Magna is a fascinating place for someone like me because it’s a mobility technology company that has lean principles at the center of everything.”

 

Megan Walker - headshot

Sustainability and Job Satisfaction

Walker’s job focuses on reducing waste and adding value to the customer. Her duties include serving as the plant’s sustainability lead, where she is helping to establish a walking path for employees near the wetlands, as well as a community garden. She also works with the division’s energy lead to track water usage, emissions, energy usage, waste diversion, and charitable work.

“One of my favorite aspects of the job is being part of a relatively young, largely female team,” Walker said. “We’ve also had a wonderful female mentor in Dawn Burns, our teammate, who encourages us to be confident in our knowledge of lean principles.”

A Seamless Transition

The transition from college to her first full-time job was seamless for Walker, since she had already completed two internships at the Magna plant and felt at home in its welcoming and supportive atmosphere. She said one of her first successes in 2023 was working with five operators making handles for a truck liftgate to save labor, reduce overtime and cut cost in their part of the assembly line.

“I spend a lot of time on the shop floor, relying on the operators to tell me what they are seeing and experiencing because they are the experts,” Walker said. “I want to understand how material moves and how you use your hands to complete a task. Sometimes, I will take scrap parts and replicate the process I see on the line. By working together, we were able to change the layout and simplify the work, with a savings on labor on all three shifts.”

Walker says one of her favorite things about the job is working in a fast-paced factory setting. It’s been a familiar experience since childhood, when she would sometimes shadow her father Benji Walker, who works as an automotive engineer and continuous improvement manager at a factory in western Michigan. Even as a high school junior, she had hands-on experience with kaizen, the Japanese term for continuous improvement.

“Growing up, I loved the beeps of the machines in the factory and the tight-knit groups of people,” she said. “I knew this is where I wanted to work. When I was a junior in high school, my dad asked if I wanted to help with a weeklong kaizen event at his plant. I got to meet operators and help reduce equipment that wasn’t needed. We presented our results to the manager. It was an experience I will never forget.”

Never Settle

As a continuous improvement coordinator, Walker embraces the Magna core value of “never settle.”

“We are always working to improve the process here,” she explained. “When I implement something in the plant, I don’t consider the project to be complete. There is always the opportunity to take something to the next level. I always follow up with the team and take their opinion into consideration.”

Her six years as a volunteer tutor for middle-school students in the nearby Fremont Public Schools have made her sensitive to different learning styles, a lesson that helps her to interact more effectively with her co-workers.

“Not everyone thinks the same way that I do,” she explained. “That was the biggest takeaway from tutoring. Sometimes I needed to draw a picture for a student to explain a math concept. Sometimes I need to do a cardboard city (a life-size replica of a workplace) for people to understand the workflow in a factory.”

And her advice to those considering a career at Magna?

“Be ready for a hands-on experience,” Walker said. “The fast pace will challenge you and keep you engaged full time. It’s always exciting to see what’s coming next.”

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