Continuous Improvement

This past weekend I added another country to my travel list. I visited Amsterdam in the Netherlands where I was able to meet up with some friends from the Dublin IIP Program. It is incredible to have the opportunity to travel with other students from Pitt who are also interning abroad for the summer. It is really interesting to be able to discuss our experiences in different cities and talk about how much we have grown from our time abroad. In Amsterdam, we took a canal tour of city, visited the Moco Museum where I was able to see some of Banksy’s work, and had the infamous pancakes at Moak. I had an eventful last weekend of travel, which kept my mind off the fact that I only have one more week abroad in Europe.

I only have one more week left working in the supply chain department at El Hospital Sanitas La Moraleja. I have become so comfortable with my work routine, my host family, and the Spanish culture. It is sad to think that my life in Madrid is coming to end because my whole summer was spent here living, working, and exploring. Even though I must leave, everything I have learned and all the memories I made will stay with me as I work to incorporate them into my daily life in the US. I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to have spent the last two months working in Madrid, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with others when I return.

Defining success for a group of people is often difficult because it completely relies on what an individual person thinks, and feels is successful. To me, success is being happy with your current state of being while still focusing on how you can improve it. If you are not happy with your current job, relationships, or life then you are not successful and must do something to change it. You also must do something to change your current state if you are not growing as an individual in your career and in life. If I set goals for myself in order to reach some objective or desire, it is always something that will make be happy and feel accomplished once I finally have achieved them. That feeling of happiness from changing my current state to reach something different is success. However, success does not exist from staying in place, it can only exist when I am learning and growing so that I can continue to improve. I feel like success means something different to everyone, and therefore I asked my coworkers their thoughts in order to better understand what it means to people in Spain.

They first were very caught off guard by the question. It is not something that they have ever been asked before. They told me that they do not think about individual success in the workplace often. This makes sense considering they are a more collectivist culture that places an importance on the group more as opposed to the individuals within it. However, after some thought they each came up with their own definitions. They differed slightly in what they consider success in the industry, but they all included the idea of improvement in some form.

I discovered after speaking with my supervisors that success within the industry of supply chain management in Spain is similar to that of the United States. Success in logistics is ensuring that supplies are moving through the hospital in an effective and well-organized manner that ensures every department has the supplies they need without stockouts. This is exceptionally important in a hospital as stockouts can be fatal since it is necessary to have the materials to help the clients especially in emergencies. Efficiency is another measure of success in the supply chain department. If operations are running efficiently then my supervisor says that she has done her job. However, her job is never complete as there is always room for improvement. In terms of inventory management, success lies in compatibility of supplies on hand to what is listed in the computer system, and in ordering in a manner that keeps costs low while keeping enough stock to meet demand. In all of the areas that my supervisor focuses on, she said success also comes from finding ways to refine and improve processes to make things more efficient, organized, and systematic.

Another coworker of mine named Irene told me that she thinks her, and her sister define it differently. She said to her sister, it is having a good job, having a lot of money, and having a big family. Irene also said that that’s how people in Spain think everyone in the United States defines success. The culture as whole focuses a lot on the success of an individual and therefore, that is how the country is perceived. Irene said that success to her is being able to provide for her family. To her, success in the workplace is having enough to make her family content. As for within the company itself, she said success is being seen as competent by her supervisor. She doesn’t think that she needs to be extortionary to be successful, but she wants to meet her goals and move up in the company as planned. To her, success is continuously moving and improving which is exactly what supply chain management focuses on, continuous improvement. As long as she is always improving herself and learning she will be successful.