Chris Robinson is currently VP of North America Operations: Durable Goods, Cassettes, and Tubing Sets at the Concord and Reynosa Manufacturing Operations for Fresenius Medical Care North America. He is at the helm for the company’s North American hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis equipment engineering, manufacturing, procurement, and logistics. He previously worked for Coviden and Boston Scientific, overseeing manufacturing and operations of these diverse and challenging medical supply companies. This past summer, Chris was a hands-on Tauber Team Project Sponsor for the 2nd place Tauber Spotlight! team of Katie Redman and Matt Riley. Here Chris shares this thoughts about how his Tauber experience has shaped his career, and about his new role as a mentor.
Q: When you think back on your time with the Tauber Program, what stands out?
A: The team projects and EGL camaraderie stand out the most to me as I look back at my time in Tauber. I was able to do two projects; Harley-Davidson and Chrysler – SHAP. Both were great experiences to be part of a larger team and to have a much greater impact than other students who participated in typical internships. The type of access we had to senior leaders was amazing and helped teach me many things that I was able to leverage throughout the start of my career. As to the camaraderie, we had a small and tight EGL group that a lot of time together in class, team projects, and social venues. That crew provided a great support group as we worked our way through the program and greatly increased my learning and ability to execute.
Q: In what ways did your Tauber experience shape the professional that you are now?
A: I often say that I'm one of those weird people in operations management that went to school to learn operations management. I fell in love with Industrial Engineering as part of a STEP program at Purdue when I was in high school and became fixated on learning how I could be plant manager. Put simply, Tauber made that possible. I came out of the university at a higher level of capability than many of my other new-hire peers. That led to increased opportunities, more rotations, and responsibilities. I continue to leverage things that I learned in the program every day to help drive improvements and mentor my team members.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your work life today? What obstacles have you faced?
A: I'm now at my fifth medical device organization and have responsibility for two sites with over $400M value of production and nearly 4000 employees. My most challenging aspect currently is helping to create an overall culture that drives a focus on delivering the highest quality to our patients while continuing to drive business improvements. The obstacle is not only understanding how to manage a plant, but also to hire and develop a team of capable leaders that support the culture and enable their teams to be successful. The tools leveraged here are very comparable back to the Tauber projects where you often needed to convince the larger organization how to comprehend and implement change.
Q: What advice would you give to current or future Tauber students?
A: Take full advantage of the larger network that is the Tauber Student Committee. Take the time to meet others, partner with them in classes, and learn from the diverse experiences they have. That network will always add to your larger education coming out of the university.
Q: What would fellow alums be surprised to know about you?
A: Those who knew me well likely wouldn't be too surprised. Stephanie and I have 3 boys: Will (10), Leo (6), and Gus (2). We now live in the East Bay area outside of San Francisco and do our very best to enjoy the weather and have as much fun as possible.
Q: What is it like being on the "other side" of a Tauber Team?
A: This summer was the second project that I had the opportunity to support. On the previous project at another company, we didn't do a great job scoping the project and getting organization support in place. My focus was to eliminate these failures on the 2016 project and ensure the team was the most supported project in the Tauber portfolio. We had a great team with Katie and Matt. They quickly engaged with the floor and created strong relationships across the functions that allowed them to be highly successful. Based on the level of results they created, it was great to see them recognized with 2nd place! They did an amazing job and deserved the recognition!