I wasn’t always a Product Designer. I spent years working in corporate America. Deep corporate.
I went to college at a small Engineering school in Michigan called Kettering University, formerly known as General Motors Institute. The program as internally described:
Students alternate academic terms of classes taught by respected faculty with academic terms of full-time professional employment at highly regarded corporate partners.
My first co-op company was Tower Automotive, a Tier 1 auto supplier that designs and manufactures structural components for cars and trucks.
During my tenure at Tower, most of my time was spent supporting Ben Roush, VP Global Lean Six Sigma. Deep corporate.
Six Sigma essentially means a relentless focus on output quality, with an acceptable 3.4 defects per million opportunities. This type of perfection is required in any competitive manufacturing operation these days.
Ben was great, a no-bullshit operator that was brought in to fundamentally change the quality of output at Tower. He was on a mission to deliver a packaged result of best practices for the company. I quickly became his publisher.
I was the guy who made custom PowerPoint templates to present my work; they’re now Tower’s default templates. I was the guy who specially formatted Excel spreadsheets to make his boss look…well boss.
Ben leveraged my skill of “computers” to help him bring this guide of best practices to reality. We spent 3 months, traveling the globe, building the “Global Inventory Reduction Process.”
This book was translated into 5 other languages: German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Slovakian.
This was my first exposure to large scale typography, layout, and publishing. It would have been nice for Medium to exist then, I may have quit my job sooner.