Charge! & Change

Our day began with our group presentations, which developed upon our previous pitches. I think the presentations this round were much more rehearsed and organized than the previous while including more research and evidence to support their product. Personally, our group pitched the idea for Charge!, a mobile battery that is powered by kinetic energy to charge your smartphone. While we could have been more specific with our bottom lines in quantifying data, I believe that we were knowledgeable on our competition and how we plan to differentiate our product, using scientific research. I learned throughout this process, was that these skills needed to pitch our ideas can be taken outside of the classroom, as it helps develop our communication and time management transferable skills so that we can share our ideas and be able to support them in everyday life and discussion. I hope to continue improving my presentation skills so that I am even more prepared for the next pitch.

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We then went over the topic of process enhancement, that was then addressed in Nancy Patterson’s talk, a Pitt alum who joined us to speak about her role in operation management. She explained how although operations are key to process enhancement, the remaining functions of business, such as finance, marketing, and human resources, are interconnected. I found her talk to be interesting, but I especially was surprised by the reality that in most cases business units don’t share information between locations and can actually become competitive within as they protect their own knowledge. Yet, in a successful supply chain, that also includes financial, IT, and other training considerations, it is important to combine each other’s resources in order to continually improve the process. Her advice was that no matter what position we take in the future of our careers, we should always be striving to “make it better.” By thinking outside of the box, no matter how small, we can question the current methods to try and improve them. And, as most cases will be, we receive “no” as an answer, she recommended listening and then asking “why?” This idea that “we’ve always done it that way” is no longer acceptable in such an innovative society, although it may take persistence and confidence skills to make a change. She provided insight into the reality of the business organization, as there are often power struggles with a hierarchical structure, making it challenging to handle conflict. But when you stick to your positive idea and take the time to explain it, the benefits to process enhancement can be long-lasting.

I believe that the last two weeks have given me such great insight into the real workings of a business, and not just what we are taught in a classroom setting. Between site visits, company tours, and pitch presentations, I have gained such a foundation for preparation for my future career. As Ms. Patterson reminded us, it is important to contribute, innovate, inspire, and understand the big picture in order to make a difference and change in the workforce, and I hope I can use that mentality starting today to see that in my community as well.