Lessons from the first female Manufacturing Leadership Certificate graduate
With ample experience in manufacturing, Lukisha T. “Shun” Griffin (pictured above) recently became the first woman to earn GaMEP at Georgia Tech’s Manufacturing Leadership Certificate. Knowing she always had a knack for working with machines, Griffin, who is currently studying Industrial Engineering at Kennesaw State University (KSU), enrolled in the program to gain the skills necessary to further her career and become a manufacturing manager.
Having worked for big names in manufacturing such as Ford Motors and Berry Plastics, Griffin came to Atlanta after being recruited by Solvay and has worked her way up in the company’s ranks ever since. Griffin’s perseverance, determination, and strong work ethic have helped her succeed in her classes with great efficiency — she completed her certificate in only nine months! Griffin credits the Manufacturing Leadership Certificate’s interactive curriculum with teaching her how to practically apply the concepts she learned to advance her career. In this interview, Griffin reflects on her experience and how it has helped shape her career thus far.
What motivated you to take the Manufacturing Certificate while simultaneously enrolled in the Industrial Engineering program at KSU?
I knew I could accomplish this goal because the Manufacturing Leadership Certificate is designed for people who are working and want to take their career to the next step. My motivation to stay the course was knowing that I need the knowledge that these programs have to offer in order to become an expert in the manufacturing industry.
What did you expect to gain by taking the program and did it meet your expectations?
I have an extensive background in manufacturing and managing daily operations from the floor. However, I knew I had a lot to learn about leadership, the dynamics around managing assignments, the different metrics needed for standard operating procedures, and checks and balances to keep companies in the green with operations and deliverables. I went in with the mindset of being a sponge, knowing that whatever they had to teach me, I needed to learn. The program taught me so much and definitely exceeded my expectations.
What did you find most valuable about the program?
Creating Metrics to Drive Performance and Best Practices in Workforce Development: Building Your Team for World Class Performance are the courses that I dove into the most. They hit home for me because I manage the logistics of inventory and assist with the weekly scheduling for our group.
How have you used what you learned in the certificate program in your current position or in your current studies?
The classes also broadened my scope of implementing and facilitating group projects while managing the work in progress (WIP) and warehouse space. The training gave me a head start on what to expect moving forward with my Industrial Engineering degree. I have also been able to create live ongoing tracking metrics that my supervisor and I use weekly to stay on top of our experiments and projects.
Where do you see yourself career-wise in the next five years?
I chose a degree in Industrial Engineering because it provides access to many other options, but the Manufacturing Leadership Certificate is what determined my decision to stay in this career field. Five years from now, I plan to be completing my Master’s in Manufacturing Leadership at Georgia Tech.
In your opinion, what does it take to be successful in the manufacturing field?
When I was a young child, my father drilled two words into me: consistency and persistence. Along my journey, I realized that you also must enjoy and have a passion for what you do. My personal opinion is, if you are consistent and persistent in working hard, complete tasks and assignments with integrity, and are open to implementing continuous improvements along the way, you’ll be successful in the manufacturing field.
Is there a moment in your career that you thought you failed, but instead it lead to something better?
Yes, I have had moments where I felt like I had failed or had become stagnant in my career. I have learned that when we don’t receive the results or the recognition that we feel we deserve or have earned from others, we charge that as failure. I have grown to view those moments as learning curves and an opportunity to take advantage of the space and time to perfect whatever project I’m working on. The approval isn’t the goal – it’s the result!
This profile is part of a month long celebration of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), in honor of International Women’s Month. View profiles of other influential women in STEM careers here.