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Student Spotlight Series—Stephen Butina

Stephen Butina is a fourth-year student at Michigan Tech currently majoring in Management with a concentration in Supply Chain & Operations. Stephen is currently working as a Logistics co-op in the Logistics department at Greenheck Fan in Wausau, WI. While at school, Stephen works in the Office of Continuous Improvement as a Student Process Improvement Coordinator.

According to Stephen, “no day is typical” as far as his job in the Improvement Office is concerned. There are a multitude of tasks and projects that are a part of his job. In the mornings, Stephen checks the Improvement Office’s Kaizen event board to make sure he is up to speed with what he will be doing for the day as well as checking for different events on campus that people are working on to see if they need help coordinating their Lean event. He then goes on to check his emails and to check his personal Kanban board. Stephen’s personal Kanban board includes recurring tasks, various deadlines, and items that need to be checked at a later time. Using this tool helps Stephen organize his thoughts and spend more time doing “value-added” work for the Improvement Office, rather than wasting time trying to figure out what he is supposed to do. Lastly, he finishes up any blog post detailing the Improvement Office’s work that he publishes on the mtu.edu/improvement website.

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Originally from an area ten minutes south of Houghton, Stephen has had the opportunity to explore the Keweenaw a great deal before coming to Michigan Tech. Stephen enjoys golfing, snowboarding, hunting, walking his dog, and hanging out with his family. Stephen is also an active member of the Leaders of Continuous Improvement. Stephen’s favorite thing about Michigan Tech is that he has met so many new people and feels as though he has grown as a person. Finding “friends that will be around forever” and getting to see new faces every day and meet new people has made Tech the perfect place for him.

From his time working for the Improvement Office at Tech, Stephen has had the opportunity to meet a number of great people dedicated to Lean. Lean has “opened my eyes to a lot of good people.” Having heard about Lean through his classes, Stephen has been learning as much as he can about Lean processes and continuous improvement theory, going to as many Lean events and training sessions as he can participate in. Stephen has also been reading books about Lean such as Andy & Me: Crisis & Transformation on the Lean Journey by Pascal Dennis, a book where the reader learns that Lean is more than just a collection of tools; it entails a new way of thinking and behaving. Stephen has been using Lean methods to help improve his grades and reduce his stress levels along with helping him become more organized. He is currently using a personal Kanban board for everyday use as well as an occasional Affinity diagram and 5S for small fixes. From using these different tools, Stephen has been able to keep himself organized by focusing on what is “value-added” towards his studies rather than stressing about various menial tasks. He has been able to organize himself to the point where he is comfortable relying on his Google Calendar and personal planner to effectively perform in both his personal and professional life which has shown significant improvements in his academic performance.