At Kohler Mira, making sure that all of our associates have the opportunity to develop is something that we’re very passionate about. Whether that’s learning new skills within their day-to-day roles, moving into other business areas and working with other teams or taking the chance to work at one of our global sites. As part of our parent company Kohler Co., our associates have access to over 55 manufacturing sites on 6 continents. Many have spent time in the other parts of Europe and China and at Kohler Co. global headquarters in Wisconsin USA.
One such associate is Wendy Bradley, Associate Manufacturing Manager in Production based at
Kohler Mira Cheltenham. Here, Wendy tells us about her secondment to the US and how it’s helped her career since.
So, Wendy, you recently finished your six month secondment in the US. How did it come about?
I went over to the US in 2016 to observe the assembly team leaders in the Brass Plating, Assembly and Cast areas of manufacturing, and was asked if I would like to go back over for a secondment. Wayne Walker (Vice President Manufacturing – Global Faucets) was very supportive and at the start of this year I was over there. I was coming back every five weeks or so to see my family. It was a hard decision to make – six months felt like a long time, but it’s gone by quickly!
I really enjoyed my time in the US and I learnt an awful lot which I’ve brought back with me to share with the UK Production team. But also, I was able to share some of the key measures we use here in the UK, such as how we reduce manufacturing waste and how we make sure our machines and factory areas are running at optimum levels. So there were some great learnings on both sides, which ultimately is what you want from a secondment!
The associates I worked with in the US were so welcoming. They made what could have been quite a lonely time away from my family much easier.
What differences are there between life in the UK and the US?
In the Winter, the snow! I didn’t realise how cold it would be. On my first day, I couldn’t find my gate pass and had to walk quite far to the HR building. I had no gloves and it was minus 21°C! I’d never been so cold in my life! I’d also never driven in the U.S, and found it quite nerve-wracking at first. I hated the drive from where I was staying in Sheboygan to the Kohler village, especially in snow, but I grew to love it.
Best bits? Learnings you’ll bring back with you?
The people. The teams I’ve worked with have been amazing. A big part of my job was building trust with those teams and they were very receptive to the change ideas I shared.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself too. I knew more than I thought I did and have done a lot outside of my comfort zone, presenting, facilitating meetings, working with people and in a place I didn’t know. I never thought I’d do something like this.
And, everything I’ve done has helped my career back at home. Since returning to the UK, I’ve been promoted to Associate Manufacturing Manager and now have new responsibilities and projects to get my teeth into!