I slowly enter the day to the cacophony that fills my room- one that seems to originate at the same time and same source (my phone) every day. Funny that. I spend a minute pondering what actions I could take to make that 20 seconds of my morning less grating, before remembering that this is the point of an alarm. Whilst I can’t say that leaving the snug ensconcement for the chilly Hawke’s Bay outdoors is a good trade, prima facie, it is one I’ve figured out pays off. Lacing up the runners to hit the pavement helps me to fully wake up (picking up from where my alarm left off), get some fresh air, and squeeze in some exercise.
I’m definitely the warm-breakfast kind of person, and so like to spend a minute in the kitchen cooking up something that I think will keep me going for a few hours! Often, I make ‘loaded toast’ as it is filling, delicious, and not too far beyond my preparative abilities; Not to mention, also an opportunity to try the company goods!
I’ve just paused my morning podcast from the drive-in and make my way onto the King Street site (Hastings). I always aim to arrive at work about 15 minutes before my first meeting so that I can begin the ever-present ‘housekeeping’ that bookends my day. I check my calendar to frame the day’s events in my mind and send any quick emails to request meetings to further projects on which I am working.
The clock strikes 8:30, and the site management team gathers in our ‘operations hub’ for our ‘Daily Performance Review’ (DPR), wherein we explicate the previous day’s events, performances, and revelations. Here, we can all gather from our different teams to problem solve and liaise- two important activities that keep the site on track, no matter what the day had in store.
Now, it's time to get to work. I’m fortunate to have a substantial block of time in front of me to do some deep work. I first dispense with a little more administrative work that spilled over from before the DPR and move on to some project work. One of my current projects at the site is to improve the functioning of a certain particularly uncooperative machine- our cardboard box packer! On this line, we produce most of our tomato-based sauces (ketchup, tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, you name it), which are cornerstone products for the company. I’m planning on making strides in improving the operation of said machine through a process known as ‘center lining’, where all movements, settings, and parts of the machine are encoded, measured, and calibrated (‘set points’) for optimal performance. Today, I’m working in Excel to build an electronic system for mapping these set points and storing these set-points. This is bigger than a one-man-job of course, but I can do important parts of it individually, before consulting other local experts around the site for their inputs.
Lunchtime! I’ve worked up a storm and although I’ve lost myself in my work over the past few hours, the incessant pings of my also-hungry colleagues across Microsoft Teams lets me know that it's time to fill up the tank. I finish up a few small tasks and jot down a few points about others surrounding which I might lose my train of thought, before making my way to the cafeteria. There are many places to eat on-site, but the cafeteria is where I typically grab my grub and pull up a chair alongside friends.
One thing of the delightful things of working for my company, I’ve quickly come to realize, is the enthusiasm for the continual learning and self-improvement that is deeply engrained in our culture. Some of this is discretionary, with time set aside in our calendars of self-directed learning (that is, any topic we think interesting and edifying!), but today we have a specific zoom training on ‘Managing Your Energy’. Here we learned the importance of energy management in a shifting work landscape, and the various types of energy which are necessary for healthy living and performance. Whilst much of it consisted of lessons and research findings, a lot of it focused on self-reflection and diagnosis of our own situations; on who we are and what we do each day.
It's nice to contextualize your day’s activities with mindfulness- it is the best inoculation to humdrum!
Today, we also have our weekly continuous improvement (CI) team meeting. In my current rotation, I have joined the CI team in the constant crusade to value engineer and improve operations. Unfortunately, the entire team can’t make an appearance today, but most of those who cannot join us over Teams.
A colleague of mine in the Research and Development team invited me to a quick tomato soup taste test- seeing how different preparations affect the texture and taste of the product. The task is to identify which of the samples is different and give a reason for our selection- time to put my culinary skills to the test!
After squeezing in quick hot chocolate break with friends, I move to my desk for my next meeting- Line improvement guidance. Its great to work in such a highly international company, because there never seems to be a limit to either the breadth or depth of knowledge available if you know where to ask! Here in New Zealand, we accommodate those in Europe, for example, by scheduling end of the day meetings, and they by having meetings at the beginning of theirs. Its really quite a cool practice, if you think about it!
Barring any pressing issues, the office usually starts to empty out with the audible shutting of laptops and jingling of keys. I transcribe a few notes from my previous meeting to remind myself when actioning what I have learned, and send off any final email communications needing to go out.
All burners are ablaze in the kitchen, as I start cooking upon getting home- I’ve got friends coming over after dinner, so I have to be quick and tidy!
The whistle blows as the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final kicks off and noises of the crowd blare in the living room. My friends gather around the T.V to watch some of the best players face off playing for some of the best clubs in the world. The actual game began at 7:00 am NZD this morning, so we had to record it, and it really has been tough resisting the temptation to check the scores or even social media during the day. But totally worth it!
Although it's not quite time for bed, I’ll begin winding down with the nightly routine and some reading. I’ll try to limit the duration of this reading to about an hour, but depending on what unfolds, this might be a tough ask!