Neemee Batstone, P.Eng.
For her, it’s all about improvement, progress and advancement—improving manufacturing processes, advancing the professional development of the engineers she coaches, and continuously progressing through her own career.
The 41-year-old is a Continuous Improvement Coach at Price Industries Ltd. in Winnipeg, MB. Her role is unique in that it combines the technical work of industrial engineering with a human element of coaching and teaching others in the organization. Her role has a strong focus on effecting change by focusing on such matters as organization effectiveness, improvement and development.
If you’ve ever been in an airport—or a school, hospital, convention centre, or even the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg—and looked up at the ceiling at those square air diffusers, then you know exactly what Price Industries produces. A market leader, Price supplies a range of air distribution, ventilation, and noise control systems to non-residential customers.
Neemee has been their Continuous Improvement Coach for the past seven years.
Her typical day starts with a staff meeting to recap yesterday’s work and identify the priorities of the day. She then spends half of her day evaluating current processes, procedures and programs.
She and her staff support the operations team, looking for ways to improve their processes by removing the steps that don’t add value, and maximizing the value of the rest. This means continuously challenging the status quo and continually developing the company’s employees to enhance Price’s business strategy.
“It’s a fun task of coaching, leading, facilitating, teaching and a lot of strategizing,” Neemee explains. “We do a lot of problem-solving as well when it comes to process improvements.”
It’s the combination of these technical improvements and coaching that she enjoys most about the job.
“I know most of our job is technical, but when you teach the people the technical side and they see how you can actually improve four or five seconds of your process by thinking about what you’re doing and what you’re not doing, it’s like an ‘aha’ moment.”
The benefits of coaching, mentoring and networking
Neemee then spends the other half of her day coaching and mentoring her team of five so that they can coach and mentor others.
A large focus of her coaching revolves around what she calls “the human side, the personal side” of engineering and the ability to help others learn to see opportunities collectively on a team in a high-paced industry.
“Being able to influence is a big thing,” she explains. “And that’s really important, and a hard one to teach. I spend a lot of time with my team developing and assisting them with their personal development and their ability to communicate and influence. One day they may become managers and leaders, and they need to know how to do that.”
Neemee places a high value on mentoring, in large part because she herself has benefited greatly from the influence of mentors, coaches and a strong network of support throughout her own career.
“I’ve had good mentors and I’ve made good connections,” she explains. “Creating that network of people makes a big difference and it’s opened doors for me.
“These connections were very big believers in me, which helped me with a lot of my promotions so that I wasn’t always just an engineer doing layout designs and process improvements and troubleshooting. They were advocates for me and helped promote me to where I need to go.”
In fact, at two previous companies, contacts from her network identified positions just for her.
“They didn’t know exactly what they needed, but they knew they needed an industrial engineer so they hired me and said to make the role what I wanted,” she recalls.
“The freedom and trust to put something in place is nice.”
Her managers at Price Industries Limited put the same trust in her seven years ago when she was hired and since then, Neemee has developed and grown her team from a one-person team, to the six-person team it is today.
And just as an industrial and manufacturing engineer is always looking for ways to shave even seconds off a process, Neemee too continues to network, mentor and coach in order to continue to develop her career, and the careers of those around her.
“If you like to build or you have a creative mind, engineering is the way to go, because every discipline requires you to be creative, and to be a problem-solver. So you can let your imagination run wild, just like an artist would with a painting.”
–Neemee Batstone, P.Eng.
Industrial and manufacturing engineers focus on efficiency and productivity. They balance any number of factors—time, number of workers, available technology, achieving an end product with minimal errors, worker safety, environmental concerns and cost—and improve the way they interact with one another to streamline processes and eliminate wastefulness.
Industrial and manufacturing engineers will plan and design plant layouts and facilities. They will study new machinery and facilities to recommend efficient combinations. They will analyze the costs of production and design, develop and conduct time studies and work simplification programs. They will determine the human resource and skill requirements necessary and develop training programs. They will conduct studies and implement programs that allow for the optimum utilization of machinery, materials and resources—all with the goal of ensuring that projects, programs and organizations are run safely, efficiently and profitably.
Industrial and manufacturing engineers perform some or all of the following duties:
- Plan and design plant layouts and facilities
- Study new machinery and facilities and recommend or select efficient combinations
- Develop flexible or integrated manufacturing systems and procedures
- Conduct studies and implement programs to determine optimum inventory levels for production and to allow optimum utilization of machinery, materials and resources
- Analyze costs of production
- Design, develop and conduct time studies and work simplification programs
- Determine human resource and skill requirements and develop training programs
- Develop performance standards, evaluation systems and wage and incentive programs
- Conduct studies of the reliability and performance of plant facilities and production or administrative systems
- Develop maintenance standards, schedules and programs
- Establish programs and conduct studies to enhance industrial health and safety or to identify and correct fire and other hazards
- Evaluate or assess industrial facilities
- Supervise technicians, technologists, analysts, administrative staff and other engineers.
According to the projections, the Canadian economy will produce about 584 job openings for industrial and manufacturing engineers annually over the next five years. Ontario employs the vast majority of these engineers and is expected to produce about 305 of these jobs each year. Nearly 70 per cent of the openings across Canada will be driven by the replacement of retiring engineers.
- A bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, preferably from an accredited program, or in a related engineering discipline is required.
- A master’s degree or doctorate in a related engineering discipline may be required.
- Licensing by a provincial or territorial association of professional engineers is required to approve engineering drawings and reports and to practise as a Professional Engineer.
- Engineers are eligible for licensure following graduation from an accredited educational program, and after three or four years of supervised work experience in engineering and passing a professional practice examination.