Nearly 150 Darden MBA students have applied what they’ve learned in class to ‘kaizen’ continuous improvement projects around the world. In collaboration with the Danaher Corporation, a global science and technology company, the students have worked in Danaher facilities in the U.S. and abroad as part of directed studies for Second Year students and a non-credit experience for First Year students.
Every January for the past seven years, Darden has taken 10-15 First and Second Year students to a Danaher facility for a one-week on-site opportunity to work closely with its employees. Adhering to a Danaher-designed charter that lays out several specific problems to be solved and the goals for the week-long experience, students say it’s a great opportunity to see continuous improvement in action. Originally focused only on manufacturing, the student events have been broadened to include kaizen activities in sales, marketing and R&D.
Kevin Klau (MBA ’02), senior vice president of global business units for Danaher’s water quality business notes:
Danaher benefits from the energy, creativity and leadership that Darden students possess, and we continue to see it first hand during the kaizen weeks. Those attributes align well with Danaher’s culture, and keep us coming back to hire at Darden.”
Counting the seven students who will join Danaher in 2012, the company has hired 60 Darden students to join full-time since 2002.
Amanda Gingras, Darden MBA Class of 2012, traveled to China last year to participate in a Danaher-sponsored kaizen project. She says the opportunity allowed her to learn about both the operations of the plant where she worked and also about the Chinese culture:
At the Danaher operating company where we worked on our kaizen project, we increased productivity within the manufacturing cell by 7 percent. We changed the order of some processes, made tools more easily accessible and incorporated rotating shelves to allow for less travel time within the company cell, essentially reducing the time it takes to assemble a product. It was a great opportunity to travel internationally, work in an operations role and interact with Chinese employees.”
Learn more by reading the full article: “Darden Students Travel the World to Experience Hands-on Continuous Improvement.”