My 12 ½ years in the military was spent in the Naval Nuclear Power Program. During that time, I served on two fast attack submarines and spent four years training officers at an aircraft carrier propulsion system prototype training facility.
I was introduced to Praxair 21 years ago at a hiring fair for veterans. After scheduling an interview, I drove to a Praxair plant, asked for a facility tour, and was intrigued. I was hired to work in the standard plant operations group and became an expert on ultra-high purity plants. I helped commission many of those plants around the world and spent most of my time as a manager for small onsite operations at semi-conductor facilities.
As my career progressed, I had the opportunity to manage customer service, trucking, and applications engineering teams. I established a Global Engineering knowledge management program, and then moved into my current role as Site Director at Praxair’s Technology Center.
The military’s foundation and Praxair’s continuous growth environment open the doors to many opportunities for veterans. For example, the military enriched my problem-solving skills. These skills became particularly necessary when I jumped into getting our new ultra high purity air separation process running. At the time, this process was new to Praxair and it had some complexities still challenging to the industry. We were producing gas directly off of an air separation column with less than 10 parts per billion of impurities. We had to work through multiple variables to eliminate potential contamination sources in the product streams by identifying the problem, analyzing potential variables, and going after root causes.
The lessons I learned in the military about dealing with ambiguity equipped me to help customers. Many of our customers have manufacturing processes that are sensitive to change. When a customer faces a challenge, we need to respond quickly, determine the root of the problem, and implement immediate and long-term solutions. This higher level of customer service often enhances relationships with customers, who tend to remember how they are treated when the waters are rough more often than when there is smooth sailing.
In my current role as a Site Director for Praxair’s largest facility worldwide, I strive to do my best to create and maintain a work environment that people are proud to come to every day. We invest in improvements that are high impact and that our employees, and our customers, value.
Like in the military, Praxair people focus on a purpose bigger than any individual. Every day, we are surrounded by something we had a hand in making and enhancing. Praxair is everywhere – from my glass coffee mug, to the car I drive to work, the frozen foods I eat, and the computer I work on. You can’t help but feel good about being part of something bigger and making our planet more productive.
The military’s foundation and Praxair’s continuous growth environment open the doors to many opportunities for veterans.