Manufacturing Academy: A Global, Collaborative Training Program

At a time when a record number of the workforce are making occupational changes, many Timken associates seemingly present an anomaly. People often stay at Timken for their entire careers, beginning as an intern or a co-op and retiring with decades of experience at the company.

A career at Timken, however, doesn’t mean doing the same thing every day. Senior leaders place a high value on cultivating future leaders with a breadth of experience — who continually take on new challenges that keep them growing and expanding their knowledge and skills.

Experience working at one of the company’s manufacturing facilities is nearly always a requirement for advancement. “That experience provides important perspective,” says Andreea Raghina, human resources business partner for Timken’s operations division. “As associates move into leadership positions, they remain grounded in the company’s manufacturing foundation.”

Juliette Pierce Plant Manager

Location: Mokena, IL, U.S.

Focus: Engineered solutions from Philadelphia Gear

Class of: 2019

Education: BA in Psychology from University of Delaware

How she relaxes: Reading, yoga, watching sports

Grew up: Claymont, DE, U.S.

Volunteer Activity: Supporting houseless people

Favorite sports teams: Philadelphia Eagles and Flyers

Quote: “If you treasure it, measure it.”

Honghai Zhou Plant Manager

Location: Chengdu, China

Focus: Aerospace bearings

Class of: 2019

Education: B.S. from ShiJiaZhuang, M.A. from Harbin Institute of Technology

How he relaxes: Reading, walking

What he loves about his city: Hot pot cuisine and pandas

Volunteer Activity: Junior Achievement

What makes him proud: Timken’s core values of ethics and integrity

Quote: “Today’s young people get bored quickly if you try to keep them in a fixed job. They need a community to teach them different things, opportunities where they can learn, develop a variety of skills, and grow.”

Claudio Alcides Manager Logistics & Supply Chain

Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Class of: 2018

Education: Colegio Anchieta Politec, Sao Paulo

How he relaxes: Playing acoustic guitar

Smartest person in the room: His wife

What makes him proud: Contributing to the professional growth and development of his team

Quote: “As a Timken manager, I don’t need to run everything by my direct manager — I can go talk to any other manager around the world. That freedom gives me the power and responsibility to make fast, agile decisions with confidence. It’s one of the things I love most about Timken.”

Leadership as a collaborative skill, strengthened by diversity

Raghina runs Timken’s Manufacturing Academy, an intensive, two-week development program designed to identify promising talent within the company and provide operational training they need to become plant managers or leaders in supply chain or quality management.

Participation in this well-established program is by invitation only, although associates enrolled in the Operations Development Program (ODP) gain entry into the academy automatically.

“We select participants from all business units and geographies,” says Raghina. They gather at Timken headquarters to network with each other and with senior leadership and participate in group training simulations. Then, they tour U.S. Timken facilities to see managerial and project skills in action and to network with their counterparts in those facilities.

While other training programs continued during the Covid-19 pandemic, Manufacturing Academy was paused because travel restrictions and precautions limited associate in-person participation. Raghina looks forward to restarting the program in Fall 2022.

“Technology can’t replicate the Manufacturing Academy environment,” she says. “When you put people in the same room for two weeks, real bonding takes place. They’re working through obstacles together in a simulation game, having face time with the CEO, seeing a lean manufacturing process first-hand. Face-to-face interaction is central to the program experience.”

For participants, that experience offers incalculable benefits:

A broader network of support

Manufacturing Academy participants forge important relationships. Claudio Alcides, for example, developed contacts who became assets in his work managing logistics and supply chain for Timken South America.

“A few months after the program, we needed to expedite a rail bearing from India, and I remembered one of my academy peers manages the plant that manufactures that bearing,” says Alcides. “The support he offered as my friend from Manufacturing Academy was different than it might have been otherwise. When you meet a person and shake hands with them, the relationship changes.”

Broader product knowledge

Manufacturing Academy also broadens participants’ product knowledge, says Juliette Pierce, who manages the Philadelphia Gear facility in Mokena, Illinois. “It was interesting to see how specific plants concentrate on certain products, and to learn more about them,” she says. “I come from the gear side of the business, but there were people there from other Timken acquisitions — like Drives and Rollon — so I had the opportunity to learn about chain and linear motion products in addition to different types of bearings.”

A broader view of the business

Honghai Zhou, who attended in 2019, says he was at a critical point of his career. “Before attending the Manufacturing Academy, I was focused on my role as manager of engineering quality,” he says. “During the training, we studied the business as a whole — how things integrate and how to work with people in other areas.”

That shift in perspective helped him move into his current position — managing the facility in Chengdu, China — with a broader view of what it takes to advance the business strategically.

A broader understanding of difference

Participants appreciate the opportunities Timken’s Manufacturing Academy offers for interacting with associates from around the world — learning about their cultures and way of life, as well as gaining perspectives on their work.

“It was like traveling to four different continents and six countries,” says Alcides. “Having all these people together at the same time was an extraordinary experience.”

Manufacturing Academy participants come away with an understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion that transcends ethnic or geographic origin. “We did a personality-types exercise, where you learn to identify different types of people and how to offer feedback and communicate with them,” says Pierce. “I still use that to this day. Certain people just receive information differently, and it’s so helpful when you understand that.”

Pipeline to exceptional leadership

In the past 20 years, about 500 Timken associates have graduated from the program. Many have gone on to lead the company in important ways. “It’s what I truly love about my job,” says Raghina. “As I travel in my role, people come to me and say, ‘I was a participant in the Manufacturing Academy, and it changed my career.’ Those are the moments that keep me going.”

Learn more about Timken programs for training the next generation of leaders.