#141: Manufacturing Capabilities and Workforce Development

#141: Manufacturing Capabilities and Workforce Development Featured Image

As the CEO of the US Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Cynthia Hutchison leads efforts to engage the national manufacturing ecosystem through local, national, and international projects and activities that accelerate the transition toward advanced manufacturing. She directs programming that helps shape the global agenda on the future of production, strengthens the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in the United States, and marries new technology and processes with valuable, tried manufacturing practices.

Among her many awards, Hutchison was named a Crain’s Detroit Business 2019 Notable Women in STEM, a Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News in 2007, and one of Woman’s Day Magazine’s “Women Who Inspire Us” in 2006. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Communications from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Host:

Rushit Shah: LinkedIn | E-mail

Connect with the Guest:

Cynthia Hutchison: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • How was Automation Alley introduced to the World Economic Forum
  • Building out the executive committee and establishing a national center
  • The three pillars of USC4AM- innovation, sustainability, and inclusion- and their ongoing projects
  • Workforce challenges in manufacturing, specifically in the USA
  • Supporting companies and how to help them face challenges
  • Valuing authenticity and accelerating opportunities

Show notes:

  • [00:27] How did you end up becoming the CEO of the US Center for Advanced Manufacturing? What was the journey from where you started?
  • [01:33] Why was World Economic Forum interested in Automation Alley? Why did you have to change the name? What is the purpose now and what was the purpose before?
  • [06:27] The agreement came between the World Economic Forum and Automation Alley to create a new entity, which is the US Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
  • [07:16] As a part of the US Center, are you also promoting US manufacturing, like bringing more manufacturing to the US? Are there any initiatives around innovating companies in the US?
  • [08:11] It’s important to me that we look for manufacturers from other states. As a matter of fact, when we built out the executive committee, I only allotted one slot for a Michigan manufacturer. As we build the first 10, nine should be from outside of the state of Michigan. Once we reach the first 10, then I will revisit a Michigan manufacturer. Because I’m committed to making sure that we are a national center.
  • [10:31] Do you mind kind of sharing the key initiatives that you have already taken? And what are the other key initiatives you see yourself taking in the next three to five years?
  • [12:01] I think we need to find innovative ways to connect with those people. And make sure that we’re finding any underrepresented group that wants to work, and enable them to get the skills they need to be successful. So the workforce is our biggest project.
  • [16:05] How open are you that people from different companies are reaching out to you directly and trying to understand what are the options they can get from you?
  • [16:46] I want to find the companies that are doing well but are not self-identifying yet. I would love them to raise their hand and identify and say, ”I think I’m doing something really special here. Please come and meet me.”
  • [18:42] How are you supporting people when they say they have people challenges, money challenges or they cannot automate? Is there a way where you can support them? Or do you engage with them as well?
  • [20:51] I believe we are at a time, at this moment in history when the top of the supply chain is not interested in squeezing every last nickel out of anybody, not that they were ever the bad guys, but it’s much more interested in finding a way to make sure that if you have a company, you are still in business five years from now, serving them.
  • [22:46] Is there a cost involved if they go and approach you with their problem? Can you tell them openly and more candidly, what is the cost? And when do they actually end up paying?
  • [25:45] How big of a challenge do you see the workforce is for the US? 
  • [30:05] Are you kind of solving challenges, apart from just rescaling and upskilling, where people are already skilled, but you’re trying to get them back to the workforce?
  • [31:05] At the national level, we’re trying very hard to talk about policy and not politics, but the politics have been so divisive, that I do think they have created a sense of hopelessness, and hopelessness is a terrible, terrible problem.
  • [37:41] What do you think are the soft skills within you, which helped you reach this level?  
  • [38:57] I think when you can actually reveal your authentic self, it helps you understand how other people can think.
  • [40:47] Do you have a way to evaluate and see if somebody is going through mental health and how do you help them?
  • [42:40] If I see that somebody seems to be exhibiting stress, I try to find the source of that and let them share what’s going on. And then level so that they can feel comfortable taking a little bit of a breather for themselves.
  • [44:17] Can you recommend three books that really inspired you?
  • [46:40] Doing the right thing against great odds is a powerful thing that inspires me and I hope in my tiny little speck of the world, running the US Center for Advanced Manufacturing, we can do the right thing with each of our projects to accelerate opportunity for people in the US.

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About the Host:

The host, Rushit Shah is the Managing Director of APAC and North America at Alcott Global. Rushit comes with 20 years of Executive Search and Selection with 8 years of Supply Chain Consulting service within APAC. He worked for more than 40 countries with diversified industries and functionality.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

#138: Signify, Innovation in Light and LiFi

#139: Sustainable EV Batteries and Supply Chain for Growth

#140: Effective Communication: Win Buy-ins and Achieve Goals




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